Imagine this: You’ve worked weeks, months, maybe even years to land a promotion or new job, and you’ve finally succeeded! Only once your new responsibilities begin, you discover that your first job is to clean up the mess the person before you left behind. Or maybe you have two bosses who can’t get along. It could even be that you don’t actually have any of the new responsibilities you were promised.
If this is something you don’t have to “imagine” because it’s your reality, you’re not alone! Too often a new position comes with unforeseen hidden job conditions and/or expectations.
If you find yourself in this situation, it’s easy to panic. But trust me, if you follow these three basic guidelines, things can turn around for the better.
- Give it some time.
It’s essential you truly understand the lay of the land – which you CAN’T do in your first couple weeks. Give yourself a three to six months to understand who other leaders are in the organization and how well they play in the same sand box. Through this process, take notes of what you are experiencing, learning and realizing for future reference; the little things you notice in-the-moment can make or break how you find your fit down the line. Keep in mind that no matter how difficult things or coworkers may appear to be, there are bigger stories at play – stories that, once you’ve earned trust enough to learn about, may change your dynamic. Give others the benefit of the doubt for a while.
- Stay connected with your boss.
Like it or not, your success is not just measured by the work you do, but by the expectations of your manager. Establish regularly scheduled ongoing communications with your boss – not to literally ask for a performance review, but more to identify where they see opportunities and flaws within the organization. 45-minute meetings like this once a week (or maybe even just once a quarter) can give you vision as to how you can best add value. If your manager is disengaged, seek out another mentor you can learn from.
- Look for ways to lead.
In today’s work environment, you have to accept that your roles and responsibilities will change. Why not look for opportunities to lead change for your department or organization? I don’t recommend you do this the week you start (see point #1 again). But once you’ve earned your stripes, take charge. Be prepared for resistance from others, but know that making an impact in times of change is invaluable – for managers, and for the individual.
There are times when the role just isn’t a fit. If you’ve followed these steps and things remain terrible, look for greener pastures. But most people who follow these three steps put themselves in position to be happier at work – and in life.