It’s obvious that taking a new job requires you to find the best fit between you and a totally new position. What’s not so obvious to many of us is that the same kind of dynamic obtains in many other situations: getting a new client, starting a new business, rolling out a new product, tackling a new project, finding your old boss or management team replaced, working through a departmental or company-wide reorganization, a new owner acquiring your business unit, and so on.
In each of these situations, old relationships and time-honored ways of working may no longer be suitable for producing the results you are used to. You may find that it’s advantageous to jettison some or all of them so as to mesh better with new values, new standards, new goals, new priorities, new policies, new personalities, new working styles, new opinions and preferences, and so forth.
A Second Chance at a First Impression
Right off the bat, the new situation creates an opportunity for you to make a good first impression. But since you’re coming in with an established track record, it’s important to carefully balance throwing out some parts of the old impression with bringing in just the right amounts of the new.
Kudos for the high marks you earned in your previous situations, of course. But when you face one of these new situations, you’ll likely find you’ve got to re-earn much of your enviable reputation all over again.
A First Chance to Educate New People
Most of the time, your new situation is not too different from your old one. But some of the players may be totally new to it – or at least to parts of it.
That leaves it up to you to bring others up to speed on your role and your capabilities, as well what’s truly important to making the situation work out well. Many of the players not only need your help in coming up to speed, they will want it and will appreciate receiving it – provided you grease the way with plenty of tact, consideration, and respect.
A New Chance at Building Strong Relationships
The new situation is usually populated with at least some new players, and each of them presents you with an opportunity to build a new relationship in strong support of accomplishing whatever goals you now share.
To this end, you’ll want to be helpful, but not overbearing. Each new person brings something special to the situation that’s new to you, and each of them presents an opportunity for you to learn new things, rethink old ways of working, and negotiate a viable way forward that both of you can buy into.
You may feel a tendency to fight for retention of the old ways, to criticize elements of the new situation, or to resent some of the new people – particularly if they are replacing old people you knew well and liked. But those tend to be counter-productive strategies.
One of the best ways to settle into such a new situation is to provide whatever resources and energies you can muster to help the new situation work out for the best.
Another effective strategy is to expand your flexibility in recognizing what’s new in the situation – such as relationships, resources, expectations, working styles, policies, procedures, and goals – and fitting yourself smoothly into them. You can do this through such tactics as learning new skills, building new competencies, and striving to contribute toward reaching the new goals.
In many of these new situations, you’ll find unexpected opportunities for personal and professional growth. Take advantage of them, and you’ll find that new situations you encounter can turn out far better than the old ones.