Taking over a new role – part 2: Focusing

I wrote here about the transition experience to a new role, and how coaching questions can help you focus on the right areas.

This post is about what comes next.

The first week of a transition is an explosion. So much new information, new perspectives, and everything seems almost like a foreign language.

What to maximize

You get a great helicopter view of what works and what doesn’t. You come in with an outsider’s eye and zoom in on how the job actually gets done. Now is when you ask most “stupid” questions – such as “Why do we put the files classified by letter rather than by department?” and get most insights. My advice: ask all questions. The ones that seem stupid at the beginning are the ones nobody has thought before.

What to watch for

All these insights get buried by the work, more work, and unfinished work left by the ones before you. You need to get things done, fast. You can’t be efficient yet because you’ve got no clue how the job gets done. So you take double than necessary, get stressed, and leave the brilliant ideas for later.

Much, much later.


Write them down. Have  a notebook handy and jot down your remarks, feedbacks and ideas.

Talk with people – get their input. What I did after my takeover in my current job, was to have some targeted discussions, with:

- my predecessor – after all, this person knows best how the job looks like
- my boss – to understand what results are needed first
- my team – to set the ground and earn their openness, to see how they prefer we work
- some stakeholders – to see a client’s outside view of what could be improved.

Prepare work plans. mindmap_2
Another thing that helped was to make a mind map with the main areas of my role. A mind map takes just 10 minutes of your time, and helps you have a clear view on the outlines of a project. And then I reddened the areas I had to focus on. And then I did the same for the people in my team.

You can find a very simple guide on how to make mind maps here.

Starting a new job is fun. It’s thrilling, intense and overwhelming. And then you start to immerse yourself in the work. You pick up projects and start juggling them.
Make sure you know which juggling balls are the ones fit for catching.

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1 Comment
  • earnlikeaboss
    May 31, 2012

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