The euphoria of accepting an offer is swift and fleeting. The honeymoon phase quickly moves on, a distant memory as projects expand, deadlines shift and the role as you understood it during the interview changes. In recent coaching conversations, my attention has been on how my clients are handling transitioning into their new role:
It is easy to focus on delivering your promise in the first 30-60-90 days. While this focus is critical, it is equally critical to step back and understand that this can be a period of extreme vulnerability where an assumption of peak performance is made without the availability of established structures, working relationships and a complete understanding of cultural norms and expectations.
- Identify and write out your learning curve with honesty. It might have been easier during the interview process to share a prepared stellar answer based on a past success to address potential gaps. However, now that you have the offer, the promise and delivery becomes immediate, fast and furious with very little learning time. What resources will increase your understanding of what you can’t do? What will it take to address this gap? What opportunities are readily visible within the scope of your role to practice new learning? [READ MORE: How to Answer ‘Why Do You Want This Job?’ in an Interview]
- Pay attention to daily habits. It is rarely the big things that get us into trouble. Our filters, perceptions and attitudes can dig deep holes for us with very little effort. For example, knowing what holds you back or what gets in your way is a good start; taking this knowledge into changed practice is brilliant momentum. One of my clients commented, “It is hard for me to ask for help. What if I am seen as incompetent?” This self-awareness freed the client to look for practical solutions to a behavior or attitude that was stopping her from completing a project. Superior results happen with and through people and asking for help is a useful behavior to cultivate. Then, learning how to ask for help, when to ask for help and what areas to ask for help in becomes a career strategy and leadership practice.
Address People’s Goals:
Everything you do does matter because everyone watches. One of the tasks that can consume immediate energy is building relationships with peers, clients and bosses. My observation is that when maximum attention is given to people’s goals, relationships are easier to develop. What will do you each day to make someone else shine? Giving up glory for your hard work isn’t easy and neither is it noble. However, connecting your hard work to and inviting others into common good is business value.
- Make your role a platform of generosity: I like the image of “emotional labor,” coined by Arli Hochschild to think about the process of building visibility and credibility. Today’s work world is fraught with tension. Whenever polls are conducted such as the recent one by Gallup, it is disheartening to learn that 70 percent of American workers are not reaching their full potential. What if you built your relationships around conversations of hope and joy? I refuse to believe that people can’t find something, albeit a tiny piece, in their workday that might give them a sense of fulfillment. Ask people about what aspect of their work they consider to be “emotional labor?” And, how can you increase that percentage for them?
- Make your work count: It is human to want that spectacular win quickly and get busy in creating work that supports that win. Go for that win by investing your energies in helping your boss own his or her territory completely. A study cited in, The Secrets of a Dynamic Subordinate by William Crockett suggested that 40% of each person’s work load in that study was made up of things the boss really didn’t care about. Furthermore, almost 10% of activities fell under things the boss did not want done. What might help you keep abreast of your boss’s quickly changing needs and priorities? And, ensure that your work is congruent with these priorities.
Say it aloud each day – there is life happening outside your job. Pay attention to that life by taking care of yourself. In a world that knows only warp speed, self-care is a lost skill. Few people will claim expertise in this practice! Having regrets sit as a sentinel on your shoulder is truly a waste of precious time.
- Nourish an outside interest/hobby: One of my clients coaches soccer at his high school. When he found himself in an unexpected transition, the relationships developed with players and their families resulted in an opportunity WITHOUT even beginning his search. The benefits of living a multi-dimensional life are many; the stories of how volunteering enriches our lives are easy to believe. Practicing this belief is harder. What hobby have you ignored in the recent past? What has been on your bucket-list? Create an opportunity to explore and build a wholehearted life.
- Work around the assessment trap: Grades, comparisons, scales and standards abound, especially externally driven measuring very personal and internal drive and productivity. Winning or losing, bounty or scarcity, promotions or demotions – work appears to be arranged into these hierarchies. What if you didn’t measure success this narrowly? What might you include in your personal “measurement” toolbox?
I invite your thoughts on what living a wholehearted life looks like for you. What connections do you see between work and abundance, giving and receiving, awe and compassion?
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