It is exciting to take on a new role, whether that is an internal promotion or a new position with a different organization. It can be nerve-wracking at the same time, however, when you have big shoes to fill.
It’s up to you to ensure your success, and here are some key strategies to do just that.
Do your homework.
Get up to speed before you start, as much as is practicable. If there are areas of the new position that are not your area of expertise, you need to get smart about them. Take time to ramp up for the new role.
Taking over for a big personality is hard, but don’t try to copy someone else’s style of leadership. Be authentic, it will earn you respect and pre-empt judgement and comparison to your predecessor.
Understand and manage stakeholder relationships.
A key element of your success will be your ability to establish and effectively manage stakeholder relationships, both internal and external. This requires knowing not only who these people are, but also what they care most about, what they each expect from you, and what concerns they have. Some may be skeptical of your ability to live up to your predecessor’s performance. You’ll want to meet with each stakeholder and ask relevant questions like:
- In your view, what should my top three priorities be over the next six to 12 months, and what would success look like to you?
- What other internal and external relationships are most important to support these priorities?
- What concerns do you have, and how can I address them?
Another option is to engage an executive coach to ask these questions on your behalf as part of an “assimilation coaching” program, which may get you more candid answers. However, this is in no way a substitute for you meeting with these stakeholders to start to build these essential relationships.
Assess the team.
Given your top priorities, you’ll want to assess if you have the right team to accomplish them. This includes hiring to fill any gaps on your team, as well as directly addressing performance issues that can prevent you from getting the leverage you need or impede your progress.
An initial meeting could include this introductory email:
Thank you for being available to meet with me! During our scheduled 1:1 introductory meeting, it would be very helpful to have some information regarding your work. Please complete the questionnaire below and return to me prior to our scheduled meeting.
- What are your job roles and responsibilities?
- What projects and deliverables are you currently working on?
- Do you have any areas of expertise that you would like to discuss?
- What are your training and career goals?
- What do you like about your position and working in IT for the organization? Don’t like or could improve?
- Do you have any questions for me?
Don’t get caught in the weeds. Failing to address performance issues with the team or shy away from difficult conversations will distract from strategic priorities.
Check your mindset.
Manage ‘imposter syndrome.’ Address limiting beliefs.
Seek ongoing feedback and support.
Create feedback loops with key stakeholders. Not everyone will like what you do. Give your team explicit permission to give upward feedback, then listen.