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So You Got the Job…Now What?

You’ve worked hard to understand your skills, history and goals and it paid off. You got the job you think you want. Now what? It’s time to do your homework again. You want to enter your new job as the leader and expert that your new team expects. Learn everything you can about the role. Find out all that you can about what value the new team brings to the company. They are there to increase revenue and/or decrease cost. There is no other reason to exist in a company. However, sometimes the value is not well understood or well defined. Make sure that you have ideas as to the value and some of the potential value.

If you are coming into a new company it is difficult to get an understanding of the internal situation. Spend as much time as you can, before entering the role, studying the new company. Look at the public financial statements and the product offerings. Study any press articles that have been published that will give you an understanding of the competitive landscape that you are entering. If you have people in your network that are customers or work for the company spend time with them and ask questions about their perspective of the strengths and weakness of the company and the function that you are entering.

Changing roles within a company makes it easier to start to learn about internal expectations and to get access to external customers. Build a transition plan from your old job that ensures you are meeting obligations in the old team and includes some time for research for the new function. Interview internal stakeholders to understand your new organization. What do they do well, what can they improve? What value does the team bring and what potential value is out there. When talking with these folks find out how they got their impressions of the group. How do they measure their success or what indicates positive or negative performance?

When you start your new role, continue with this line of inquiry, but also include the people within the team. Ask the individual contributors and the managers the same questions that you have been asking the stakeholders and customers. If you wrote out a set of questions and asked them in the same order you will be able to compare responses directly. Do the internal members of the team have the same impressions as the stakeholders and the customers? If there is a difference, try to figure out why. While you’re talking with folks within the team try to get an understanding of the roles each member of the team plays and how they do their job.

After about 30 days you should have a very good understanding of what the team thinks it should be doing, what stakeholders want from the team, and what customers are looking for. You should develop your vision of what the group needs to be delivering based upon all the responses. Validate your understanding with the key people from each category that you interviewed. Once you have this vision you are able to put together a gap analysis of where you need to be, as an organization, and where you are. The real value of a leader is to gather the expectations of all parties and to help to articulate what the business needs from the organization and how the group intends to accomplish the goals. If the mission and goals of the group are very simple it will be easier for large groups of people to interpret them in the same way, and deliver on them consistently. If these messages are ambiguous, people will have different expectations and varying perspectives of your success.

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