Starting a new job?

Happy African American business man shaking hands with a colleague Courtesy of Geograph.co.uk

(MoneyWatch) Booz & Company recently released a new edition of its annual report focusing on CEOs, their tenure and success rate. This year, the report focused on new CEOs and how they got started in their new roles. Good advice was plentiful - but it struck me that none of it was specific to bosses. We all want to get off to a good start and there are a few great ways to do that.

1. Look around. Even if you've been promoted from within, things do - or should - look different from the new position. What do you see now that you didn't see before? If the anwer's nothing, then you aren't looking hard enough. For one thing, you now have a different boss and different expectations; how does that change the information that you need?

2. Don't jump the gun. You will want (and need) to signpost your new job - but that shouldn't mean instant, dramatic changes. If you are developing a new perspective, give yourself time to think and to make a plan. You will never be as alert to issues, problems, strengths and weaknesses as you are in the first three months. So use that time to absorb and find new insights before doing a thing.

3. Locate yourself. With a new boss and different demands, the topography of your work has changed. Moving up means both that you see new things and people - and new people see you. What are your key relationships now? How do you want them to develop? If you can't see where the changes are, then you haven't - yet - successfully made the transition.

4. Ditch the old job. If you've been promoted internally, it can be hard to gain and maintain your new perspective. But you have to be willing to throw away your old position. You can be a friendly mentor to the person who's replaced you but no one will take you seriously if you don't firmly delineate the past from the future. And don't criticize your replacement; it always looks mean.

5. Build trust. You should, frankly, do this in every job you take. But you're dealing with new people who will have questions about how straight you are, how political you are, where your loyalties lie. This is the most important thing your new colleagues will want to know about you so make sure you get it right.

6. Understand your predecessor. What did he or she get right? If they're still around, can they provide mentoring? If not, who were their trusted colleagues? In senior positions, it's important to signal that you aren't a replacement; you're your own person. But it's smart to understand what was valued in your predecessor, if only to ensure you don't unwittingly disappoint. There's so much that isn't in a job description so make sure you appreciate what everyone expects.

The first three months of a new job are critical; they'll define how people see you and whether they want to help. Get it right and the rest will be easy.

  • Margaret Heffernan On Twitter»

    Margaret Heffernan has been CEO of five businesses in the United States and United Kingdom. A speaker and writer, her most recent book Willful Blindness was shortlisted for the Financial Times Best Business Book 2011. Visit her on www.MHeffernan.com.

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