New job or new role? - Time to collaborate and network!

When you take on a new challenge in your job, make sure you are accepted by the hierarchy. In today's hyper-collaborative and dynamic workplaces, successful moves aren't as easy as they once were, and too often, transitioning managers and employees don't live up to their organizations' expectations. In today's organizations, transitions occur all the time and take many forms. Internal moves are increasingly common in organizations that are undergoing a culture change. Employees, and managers, change jobs more often than previous generations, with some expecting to leave their employers in 2022. Gallup's research shows that replacing employees can cost up to two times that employee's salary, and at the current turnover rate, companies could face replacing their staff at a cost of nearly $1 trillion a year.

Although onboarding programs are offered to new or transitioned employees, only 44% achieve desired outcomes. Research proves that the most successful people establish broad, mutually beneficial, uplifting connections from the start. In most cases, individual managers must do these things on their own. Organizations and team leaders can help people in new roles work through the following strategies as part of a well-designed program.

Collaboration is increasingly important as companies seek to meet business goals. In one study, 82% of companies reported that their employees must work closely with colleagues to achieve their objectives. We spent 85% of our time in collaboration activities in our own research, and this has increased by 5-8 hours a week as a result of remote working.

Gartner reports that companies now view network performance as equally important to the ability to handle tasks individually. New hires need to be helped to establish critical networks during the onboarding process. 

People making transitions today must be intentional about building their network quickly and must discover the informal org chart of key boundary-spanning, energizing opinion leaders.

It is essential to meet with several people across the company to understand the business environment, how the groups operated, and what each person's most pressing concerns were. A person’s transition success depends on making connections with key stakeholders and customers or clients, formal leaders, her team, direct reports, and others who might not be viewed as important.

After putting yourself out there, ask questions, listen, and build relationships to attract like-minded colleagues, who will offer advice, suggest new ideas, and bring you into new projects and roles. The fast movers understand the value of modesty when transitioning and meeting new people. They keep their skills and experiences to themselves and show, not tell. Fast movers do not focus on their own stories but cocreate a joint narrative of success.

Transitions invariably create skills gaps that we either fail to see or bluff our way through. Fast movers get clarity and work to fill those gaps. A 20-year veteran was promoted to an executive role but didn't understand some of the terminology. After a quick informal chat with domain experts opened his eyes to a new way of thinking about the production line. 

Fast movers can get big things done by tapping their networks of innovators and influencers for ideation and implementation. A doctor in a teaching hospital who led a palliative-care group had the vision to reach more colleagues through internal publications, speeches, news-media interviews, and other tools of the PR trade. His new contacts helped him achieve scale.

Research shows that it is essential to connect with four types of influencers to achieve scale: central connectors, boundary spanners, energizers, and resisters.

It should be noted that fast movers manage to prioritize their health and not let their networks overwhelm them. A carefully crafted, supportive network shields new leaders from some of the pressures of their new roles. Sometimes new connections help us rethink our own patterns of behavior by giving us the confidence to take action to make it happen.

If companies want to support their new hires and promoted employees, they need to develop a networks-first mindset and provide more intentional engagement with smaller subsets of super helpful people. Organizations can help transitioned employees build the networks that will help them thrive by establishing norms for sharing expertise in meetings, pairing newcomers with veterans, continuing onboarding programs well into the first year, and developing leadership training.


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