Expa nailed it with this tweet yesterday:
When you join a team, be chill. Learn and help out before you try to make any significant changes
— Expa (@expa) March 10, 2016
It’s natural to want to impress people when you start a new role. The quicker people know they made the right choice in hiring you, the quicker everything settles down and feels more normal.
The same goes for those involved in hiring someone new, particularly the hiring manager. There are a lot of unknowns when hiring and you won’t always get it right. Hiring managers are just as keen to see their decision validated ASAP.
That said, pushing to make changes and trying to get results too early can backfire on you.
When coming into something new, you need to set aside time for soaking up what’s going on. The company, it’s history, the culture, the people, its products or services etc.
Even if you think you know most of the answers on the first day, I can guarantee your views will shift once you start to poke about.
Take the time to properly understand what has happened before you. Start getting opinions from people on what the future should look like. Often the root cause of what needs to change lies in these conversations.
You need to have people on your side to make significant changes. For that to happen, your team and the people around you need to trust and respect you. This takes a bit of time to do. They need to feel you are with them, not against them.
You also need to understand the company’s culture, so you know the right way to make changes. It’s amazing how differently change needs to be managed in different companies.
Lastly, sometimes people just need a bit of time to get used to you, and to the notion that changes are coming. Taking the time to learn, help out and get to know people allows you to do exactly that.
Some advice on starting a new role
I’ve been asked for my advice a few times when someone is joining a new company in a senior role. I always say the same. THE most important thing to do is set and agree expectations for what you will spend your time doing in the first 60 days with your hiring manager. Make sure you’re on the same page for how important it is to learn, help out and get to know people in the first 30 days. Make sure you’re on the same page for when results are expected.
When I hire senior people, I tend to make sure this is the first discussion we have. I make it clear, I expect NO impact or results in the first 30 days — perhaps even the first 60 days.
What I expect is for them to get to know the company, their team, their colleagues and the product. Let things sink in a bit. I would even go as far as providing a list of suggested people they might want to meet with.
The first 30 days are JUST for that, nothing else. They should make good notes on everything they observe and we will chat about them at the end of each week. At the end of the first 30 days, I would want to see all notes pulled together so we can dive deeper into everything. Observations, insights, ideas for how to move forward etc.
I’d then allow roughly another 15 days for that to come together into a plan for the next 90 days that we agree on. There will be a bit of back and forth and getting approval on stuff, so a couple of weeks to get it done should do it.
At the end of 45 days you will have a well thought out plan that outlines what to focus on and what to get done. At that point, things can move more quickly and you can still end up with someone making a significant impact in their first 6 months.
Compare that with jumping in, rushing to conclusions and making changes too soon. You can end up in a real mess early on. Sometimes it’s even too hard to undo.
So, it’s worth thinking about this if you’re a hiring manager or starting a new role. Take your time and make sure expectations are set early for getting up to speed and making an impact. Genuinely take the time to learn, help out and get to know people first.