Are you fatigued by a prolonged lockdown and feeling like “Can this be over now?!?” Have you started to relook at your career i.t.o potentially making some changes?
Clinical psychologists have suggested that this pandemic has caused an emotional tsunami for many. “Peoples’ feelings are exacerbated to the extremes at the moment, especially because of the uncertainty of what’s going to happen,” Suntosh Pillay. The toll this pandemic has taken on peoples’ mental health is leaving many in a perpetual state of stress.
While, for some, lockdown has afforded the opportunity to spend much needed time with family, which would not ordinarily have happened; for others lockdown has been a source of anxiety, hopelessness and disconnectedness. Financial stress, anxiety and panic has been cited by South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) as 3 of the major challenges South Africans are facing.
In addition to this, many people are being forced to re-evaluate their careers with many looking for ‘re-skilling’ opportunities to ensure they can adapt to the post lockdown world of work. Many people have found themselves retrenched or forced into unpaid leave and still others fear they could find themselves in the same situation and not have a position to go back to in the new year.
Has this pandemic caused you to consider pivoting or changing careers completely as you begin to prepare for life after lockdown?
Global research indicates that many people are attempting to upskill in the hope they will be able to be re-employed or be in a position to transition into a different sector.
Regrettable only 36% of polled employers has offered their employees support in improving their existing skillsets during this time. We know that without continuous improvements to skill-sets, existing members of staff are likely to become bored and demotivated because they are not being challenged or given the opportunity to grow. This is more important now than ever before. If staff are unfulfilled and unmotivated they will start to think about pursuing a career elsewhere when things settle down.
This in-turn is likely to mean businesses will need to invest huge sums of money in recruitment – with no guarantee they will be able to find anyone with the right attributes. So investing in continuous skills development with existing employees is the best way forward – and it’s also less costly.
For many this pandemic has been the wake-up call they were waiting for.The study found more than a third of those polled have reconsidered their chosen career since lockdown began.
In fact, one in 10 people are currently attempting to retrain for an entirely different job. However, 54 % of people surveyed fear they are too established in their current career to do something new; despite many feeling that they may not have a job to return to.
Business owners, have indicated that six out of 10 job applicants lack the skills employers are looking for and filling vacancies with workers who have the desired skillsets is one of their biggest challenges – even harder than retaining valued members of staff.
Recruitment is costly on a financial level, and there is a danger it could affect a business’ ability to grow because they can not find the right people for the job.
This is why continuous skills development is so important – it reduces the need for investing in recruitment because fewer members of staff want to leave as they are likely to be more fulfilled and stimulated. Furthermore, businesses can then grow with a workforce who has all the right skills for the business.
What plans do you have for continuous skills development as you prepare for life after lockdown?
There has been a lot of discussion around the impact technology and AI will have for the future of work. Many companies and countries have already adopted and adapted many of their offerings and services to be automated and or offered by some form of AI. South Africa launched its own journey into the Fourth Industrial evolution with the president committing to the country being an early adopter of this new way of being.
Then Covid-19 swept the globe, and the message about our future has become even clearer: what started as a few weeks of working from home has evolved into a catalyst for change regarding how we work and live.
Millions of people have transitioned to working from home globally and many South Africans have found they too have needed to join the fray. In addition, South Africans, like many others around the world, have also begun to stream online content for 8 hours or more each day.
It is safe to say that the traditional definition of office life has been put to rest, and now we are all left to wonder, what will replace it? Many employers have begun to ask whether it is necessary to return to the a pre-Covid world of Work and if not, what does this mean?
However, before we follow that rabbit hole into the future, let’s get some context around the past that is so abruptly changing. Office spaces as we know them have really only existed since the 1930’s, with the birth of the cubicle occurring in the 1980’s. This style of work is not a long standing phenomenon, and even before Covid-19, it was already on its way out of style. Employees were pushing for their freedom, with 80% of US workers reporting they would turn down a job if it didn’t offer flexible working arrangements. This requirement for job flexibility was a huge factor and had a huge impact on decision making especially when families were getting started. Employee demand pushed remote working opportunities to grow 44% since 2015.
So in essence Covid-19 has really only expedited what was already on the horizon anyway.
As a career expert and coach, I have found myself questioning how permanent these changes are? How will this affect employees in the workplace, especially those, whose careers have already taken a battering lately due to economic downturns.
We have also seen our universities transition to blended learning approaches [some more quickly than others], with only a fraction of the student body and staff on campus at any given time. The rest are all on some form of rotation. Our schools have been forced to reinvent the way they teach while simultaneously attempting to salvage an academic year, and observe social distancing protocols. Rotation scenarios again being implemented across the vast majority of schools, colleges and universities. We have also seen parents getting progressively more involved in the children’s education rather than leaving this vital aspect of their childs’ development to the education sector exclusively.
Our very notion of work is changing – and not just from a geospatial perspective. Workplaces are being reconfigured. Various industries have overhauled their spacing policies to observe social distancing protocols. The trend of less space per person has reversed into more space per person, allowing fewer people per building. We have seen online facilities been utilised with progressive proficiency, even for those who were once overwhelmed and intimidated by the prospect.
Working from home is no longer reserved for certain industries and professions – it is becoming the number one workplace benefit people are looking for in a job. A recent survey by executive recruiter Jack Hammer revealed that remote working and flexitime are increasingly being implemented by South African companies as a means of enhancing employee engagement, wellness and productivity.
While there are signs pointing to a big spike in remote working over the next two years, South Africa still lags about four or five years behind the global working-from-home curve? WHY??
South Africa is a country that embraces ubuntu. We like being together. The attributes that make South African culture unique – our laughter, our humanity, our solidarity – may help in part to explain why we have been slower to embrace remote working than our global counterparts.
At the individual level, differences in personality types mean some people are simply better suited to remote working than others. Self-initiation and self-motivation are crucial traits, as are the means and ability to build systems that can support individuals to work effectively from home.
At an organisational level, the challenges are linked with leadership and teams. People feel disconnected from their teams and believe they do not perform as well when they are not physically in the same space. Executives report difficulty in leading effectively when teams and individuals are not physically present. These are two conundrums we are going to have to figure out, because good leadership and agile teams are important aspects of future-ready organisations.
Many South Africans started working from home in March and now almost seven months down the line many continue to work from home. According to the study, more than nine out of 10 (94%) decision-makers responded that they regarded it as essential to allow parents more time with their children. Cisco South Africa country manager, Garsen Naidu, says they were fascinated to learn that working from home did not negatively impact productivity. “We were fascinated to learn that working from home did not significantly impact the output. Employees are still as productive as they were in the office, partly as a result of not spending time getting to the office and settling in. It suggests that an employee’s mental energy remains finite, within the context of traditional roles and tools,”
South African businesses are more willing to embrace remote working. Those that remain reluctant may find themselves pushed that way by necessity.
Additionally, with another 18 months to two years of continued rolling blackouts ahead of us, this may be the very thing that pushes South African businesses to take the leap and catch up with the rest of the world regarding remote working. Meanwhile, reliable internet connectivity plays a vital role as it has implications on stress levels of employees.
“Connectivity emerges as an important factor for success in remote working…, and illustrates that remote working only functions successfully with remote connectivity. Connectivity is the key to the digital office.” The digitalisation of the home office must take into account the personal circumstances of the employee,” says Arthur Goldstuck, managing director of World Wide Worx. Terry Bell says he believes that a large number of companies will adopt the practice of remote working after the lockdown because the benefits of working from home for employers are significant. He adds that with fewer cars on the road would mean reduced road fatalities and less pollution. “I certainly do see that working from home is going to become much more common. It’s a lot cheaper for employers because they don’t have to provide office space. From a worker’s point of view, they end up working as individuals, they will then end up being negotiated with as individuals.”
It’s extremely advantageous for employers, and productivity does not fall.
For a young country like South Africa these are important considerations. We have a growing population and we are one of the most rapidly urbanising places on the planet. When we reflect on a horizontal city like Johannesburg, with its sprawling footprint, or Cape Town with its gridlocked roads, and it is easy to see how asking people to travel further is just not realistic; working from home just makes sense.
COVID-19, of course, is not the first attack on our jobs. The fourth industrial has already changed the job landscape. As it is, humans and machines are increasingly working together, bolstering efficiency and productivity. The workforce is becoming increasingly more structured by project rather than job function, allowing tasks to be created and dismantled flexibly.
Many companies may opt for a reduction in workdays. Others will rethink their ratio of permanent employees to gig workers. Expect to see leaders pivoting towards business models that create new digital and online forms of value. Until now, the concept of unlocking the digital dividend has been largely elusive.
During these unprecedented times we all need a little help. Here are a few packages which may tickle your fancy and provide some help along the way to redefining your normal.. If any of these sound like something you may be interested in doing click here to connect with me and we can schedule a FREE consultation session with no obligation.
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Staying mentally healthy as the country begins going back into workplaces.
Life as we knew it has changed and our reality is very different today than it was 100+ days ago. Many of us were in various stages of lockdown for extended periods of time. and even as many of the initial restrictions were lifted , many have still remained and will remain for the foreseeable future.
As we begin to emerge from what felt like hibernation for many, we are all to aware that life is very different and things will never go back to the way they were.
As we start to return to work, and our children return to school there is a lot to think about. Lockdown has affected us all in different ways, and it is normal to feel uncertain about what the future holds.
Many people feel confused, worried and apprehensive about going back to the workplace and even more feel anxious about sending children back to school. Amid this worry there is also the harsh realisation that indefinite lockdown is not sustainable and life still needs to carry on.
Organisations are considering a range of adjustments to the way work is done, to comply with government recommendations. These adjustments will depend on your job, and your individual circumstances.
Everyone’s situation is unique. However, as you return to work, there are some general principles that will give you the best chance of getting back to work and staying mentally healthy over the coming months.
Talk and connect
It is important to keep in touch with colleagues and your line manager. You don’t need to talk about work, but a quick check-in will help you feel connected. We have all been impacted by the coronavirus in different ways. You may have been bereaved, felt overwhelmed or isolated, or been unwell. If you share this with others they will be better able to help you in the months ahead.
Plan and prepare
Think about your job and your situation. Does anything need to change to help you do your job well? If you haven’t been told what to expect, ask what provisions have been made to create a safe work environment. It can be helpful to think through what will happen on the first day back:
How will you get to work?
Will anything be different as you enter the building?
Who will be there?
Will you need to do things differently to get your job done?
Are you on a rotation schedule?
Have a return-to-work conversation with your line manager
If you have not received a return-to-work briefing from your line manager ask for one.
This is a chance to identify your work priorities and raise any concerns or questions that you have. If you have something important you want to talk about, make a note of it for when you have a briefing or perhaps drop your manager and email with your concerns. This is an unprecedented time for all of us and we are all trying to figure things out as we go along. NO one person has all the answers so raise your concerns and ask your questions – chances are you are not the only one who has the same concern.
Try not to panic and slip into a paranoid space
Take things one step at a time
The way we all work is likely to keep changing in the coming weeks and months so we will need to keep adjusting. Don’t expect everything to quickly return to normal. The life you knew and were familiar with prior to lockdown is gone and will very likely never return. We have a long journey ahead. We may never be able to go back to our old ways of working so this could give us an opportunity to do things very differently, and even better. Look out for yourself, look out for others and take one day at a time.
Monitor and review how you are getting on
It is important to have regular check-ins with yourself (How am I coping? Could I do more to help stay mentally healthy?) and check-ins with your team members and manager (How are we working? Is there anything we could do differently to work better together?). This way you can address issues as they come up and start to plan and prepare for the journey through COVID-19 together.
Be mindful of those who may have been directedly affected or infected by this virus. Be supportive and check-in if a team member has had to deal with the illness or loss of a family member due to COVID-19. many of those in essential services have has to deal with unimaginable conditions from and emotional and psychological perspective. Many of them have brought these traumas home and family have had to deal as best they could. so be gentle and be kind with those who are struggling you may not know what they have has to deal with on the home front.
Everyone is finding their own path and things might not always go to plan. It is important to be kind to yourself and to be kind to others as we all find our way. Returning to work is not always easy, but having support can make a huge difference. If you are finding it difficult, ask a trusted colleague or friend to help you work through the questions and identify some concrete actions that you, or they, can take to help you.
I have Coached Over 200 Career Transitions — Here is A Routine That Helps People Bounce Back Faster
Losing your job takes a serious toll on your confidence and stirs up all kinds of unpleasant emotions.
Realistically though, it is likely that we’re going to face some kind of job loss or significant job change at one point or another in our careers. Sometimes this change reaches far beyond the scope of our individual control and comes as a surprise to us. The best we can do is be prepared to manage this adversity and take some time to focus on ourselves. I’ve worked through over 200 career transitions over the years – including a couple of my own (most have been my clients’). Self-care is critical to successfully getting through this time. Here are five ways I practiced self-care after I was laid off — and I think you should try this routine, too
Losing your job can often be a big shock to your system. Sometimes we know our organization is going through significant changes, but sometimes the change comes as a complete surprise. Whatever the case, when the change impacts you personally, it can really hurt and take a toll on your confidence.
Depending on who we are and how we react to things, we might become emotional as we react to the news. The best advice I can give here is to take a breath. If your employer is presenting you with a severance package, make sure you DO NOT sign anything in the heat of the moment. Take some time to review the severance package offer after you get over the initial shock factor that will inevitably happen.
Reach out to a friend or colleague that you trust and get their input. Lean on your support system and let your feelings out in this safe environment. You don’t want to be embarrassed by emotional, irrational behavior in front of your former employer. Save the insanity for close family and friends (lucky them).
For me, the pause was critical because getting laid off was a very emotional experience. Taking time to breathe allowed me to have a rational and professional discussion with my employer about severance.
I resolved the outstanding issues with my employer, A.S.A.P.
After the ‘pause’, it might still take you a few days to get your emotions back in check. Once you can get through thinking and discussing your new situation without bursting into tears or fuming in anger, set your sites on closing the loop on outstanding items with your employer.
For your own mental health, you’ve got to get the details resolved as quickly as possible. Having the details of a severance looming over you for days, weeks or months is simply exhausting. You owe it to yourself to get closure so you can move on.
In most cases, your employer should appreciate that this is an emotional situation and provide an appropriate deadline (a week or so) for you to get back to them on their offer of severance. If they don’t give you some time to get your act together, count your blessings that you no longer work for them.
So, you have done your due diligence in terms of reviewing the details and terms of the severance offer, now you need to respond to them. I always suggest having this conversation via email so everything is documented. Avoid the phone if you can it can muddy the waters. You also don’t know what might set off potential emotional outbursts. Make sure you get all of the details from your employer such as how and when the severance will be paid, what happens to your benefits, what happens to any sort of other company programs and any additional amounts owing. Get all the information that you can to minimize any need for follow up contact. You likely won’t want to talk to them again.
I didn’t try to find out why I was laid off.
I have heard people say time and time again that they need to understand why they have lost their job in order to move on. They want to know what they have done wrong, or how the employer decided that they should be the employee to exit.
The fact is, a lot of time, the reason that an employer provides a severance package for you is so that they don’t have to share this information with you. Quite frankly, it might even be none of your business, and part of some broader organizational plan.
For me, adopting an ‘I don’t need to know’ attitude was the key to self-care when I was laid off. What value is there in knowing the organization’s point of view, anyways? Would it really change the current situation? Probably not. If anything it would only serve to inflate your anger and frustration levels. So take time to make peace with the reality that you are out the door and see it as an opportunity rather than a set back.
I got into a routine.
I allowed myself some time to mourn the loss of my job. This is an important step many people seem to forget to do or chose not to do. Loosing a job is much like loosing a loved and the lose needs to be mourned. For me, this was the end of the longest-term relationship I had ever had. Grieving was important, but I set myself a deadline to be sad. I cried and moped, but only for a week. At the end of the week, I started into a routine.
It was summer and I wanted to take advantage of the time away from work and focus on the positives of being away from work. I got up every single morning and planned an outing with my little guy. Every day we were up and dressed. You’d be surprised how therapeutic getting up and going outside can be.
Getting into a new routine is critical to your career transition success. Part of establishing this routine was knowing what I would say when people asked ‘How’s work?’ I actually practiced my response so I could answer confidently without stumbling or feeling insecure.
While I only allowed myself a week to be sad about losing my job we all know the grieving process has no hard and fast deadline. The reality is that, sometimes, we have to work through the emotions of things , and that can take a while. While I wasn’t sitting at home and moping, I was still going through all the feelings of job loss. I wanted some time and space between that job and my next one. Since I was laid off in the summer, I set myself a deadline of autumn (fall) to get on a structured job hunt. Setting parameters and clear goals for myself were really key parts of my self-care and managing my overall mental health.
Job loss is hard. Period. There is no magic formula to work through the grieving process and there are no standard timelines. When it comes to self-care and job loss, you’ve got to take a moment to reflect what will work for you. Focus on those things that give you comfort, structure and a sense of purpose. It’s inside those things that you will find a transition process that is uniquely yours. On the other side of that transition is your future career success.
Career transition at senior level is difficult as there are only a few available opportunities and plenty of very tough competition. More and more senior managers and executives are using career coaches to gain competitive advantage. Many of the best business leaders engage executive coaches. Career coaching can help executives navigate career transition quickly and effectively. Engaging a career coach will substantially improve competitiveness, marketability and ultimately the success of your job search and long-term career.
If your strategy is to send out hundreds of copies of your Curriculum Vitae and hope for the best, you will quickly discover that this doesn’t work and is a futile use of your time. Even if you have the best LinkedIn profile, it is not a guarantee of success.
A good career coach will help you articulate your best attributes and highest skills for a prospective employer to notice. A career coach will help you develop an effective job search strategy to identify the best target companies and secure your ideal position.
It can significantly reduce the time it takes to find your ideal position by helping you develop a comprehensive job search strategy. Many people including senior manager and executives find it difficult to articulate the value they can bring to an organisation and as a result how to pitch themselves effectively feels awkward. Many are also unsure what exactly they are looking for in terms of both position and type of company and this can be a significant disadvantage. If your vision is not clear, then you cannot develop an effective strategy to achieve it.
Get help to create a Vision. Vision guides you! In simple terms, if you are going on a business trip or holiday, you would not arrive at the airport without knowing what your destination is. Your destination guides your choice of airline and ultimately which terminal to arrive at. Your career transition journey is no different. If you don’t know where you are going to how will you know when you get there?
A career coach can help you create an impactful Curriculum Vitae (CV) / Resume and LinkedIn profile. Many people forget that the purpose of a CV / Resume is to get the interview and not the job, and as such this document must be carefully constructed to articulate just enough information to create interest and impact and encourage an employer or recruiter to reach out. BUT…. not too much information! At Renata Career Coach we sometimes see CV’s / Resumes that lack impact, are poorly written and in many cases are simply a cut and paste of a job description with little attention given to achievements. Remember that the attention given to each CV / Resume by a recruiter or potential employer is very short so making an impact quickly is essential!
Develop your networking skills. Some experts say that 70% of people ended up in their current position thanks to networking. Others say it’s more like 80-85%. Which ever statistic you believe what is clear this is substantial and as such incorporating a comprehensive networking strategy into your job search strategy is one of the most important actions you can. Effective networking provides a focused way to talk to people about your job search and can help you obtain leads, referrals, advice, information, support and most importantly uncover hidden promotion job opportunities. A good career coach will help you review various opportunities, networking events, existing contacts, developing new contacts and how to prioritise those that could generate the best results.
Preparation for interview and the overall assessment and selection process. Most organisations now have comprehensive recruitment and selection processes consisting not only of competency-based interviews, but also psychometric assessments as well as situation-based presentations. Having someone help you prepare for this puts you at a distinct advantage versus your competition. In our career coaching practice, we help you identify and segment your achievements across your entire career and then help you articulate them in a structured and impactful format. This process alone greatly assists Executives in interview preparation therefore it can also help you. Remember …. 90% preparation = 10% perspiration. 10% preparation = 90% perspiration!
A good career coach will hold you accountable for the goals you have set, offer valuable advice and expertise, and help you acquire different perspectives. Inevitability, there will be setbacks throughout your job search journey and your coach will be there to pick you up and encourage you to keep focussed and face your next challenge with renewed confidence and enthusiasm.
On-boarding into your new position. Depending on the terms and duration of engagement, some career coaches provide on-boarding coaching. The first six months of any position can be critical for both the organisation and the new appointee. On the one hand the hiring organisation will need to see evidence of added value from you. On the other hand you will need to feel that you have made the right career decision.
Various sources of research have shown that the average executive failure rate within the first 18 months is approximately 40%! A career coach can help with embedding and securing the success of the new relationship and provide a confidential environment to discuss goals, objectives and any potential issues that may arise.
In conclusion, you must remember that the role of a coach is to facilitate you to acquire different perspectives to get more out of work and life. The true value of the coaching process is gained from the work you put in between sessions.
At Renata Career Coaching we provide 1-2-1 coaching for people who are in career transition or planning to change jobs. We tailor a structured programme appropriate for the needs of each individual which results in a professional and effective job search campaign and improved confidence.
Our career coaching service can include:
Skills and competency assessment
Curriculum Vitae / Resume preparation
Development of a Comprehensive Achievements Profile Document
Development of a Job Search Marketing Plan
Engaging effectively with Executive Search Consultants
For those people looking for an improved alternative to the traditional outplacement program, our Career Coaching programme provides unique and highly customised support on how to conduct a professional job search campaign. Ideal Careers Happen by Design let us at Renata Career Coaching help you find the ideal career that suits you
For a free no-obligation consultation please contact our office via email at email@example.com
There are many professionals out there who stay in their jobs (even if they don’t like them) just because they are afraid to start a new role with a new employer.
It is understandable that applying for and accepting a new role [which may also be in a new organisation] can be overwhelming. Adapting to a new position, developing new relationships, and assimilating into a new culture can is a big ask. While each professional, position, and organization is unique, there are behaviours that can support you making the transition into your new role a smooth process:
Acclimate to the organization’s corporate culture:
The most important thing you can do during your first week, month, and even quarter is to assimilate into the culture and environment of the organization. Accomplish this by observing the behaviours and communication patterns of those around you.
Show excitement for your new role and you will exude confidence. Your positivity and enthusiasm will make a great impression and may even bring a new energy to the organization.
Listen and learn:
Show your willingness to learn about the company beyond your job and responsibilities. Become as knowledgeable as possible about the new organization and /or new role. Keep an open mind to suggestions from colleagues who have been with the organization for a number of years. These people can provide invaluable insight and knowledge. By combining that understanding with your skills and experiences, can add significant value to a new employer. Lastly, I suggest they keep an open door policy. It is one of the best management styles there is.
Remember that you are new: It’s critical to understand why you were hired and the skills that made you attractive. Keep in mind that while you may have the capabilities and talent to perform admirably, it’s best to wait until you thoroughly understand the company’s procedures and operations before bringing up new and improved ways of doing things. On another note, although it’s great to volunteer for extra responsibilities, in most organizations, it’s best to stick to your job description during your first few months. You want to make sure not to step on anyone’s toes. However, if you are asked to do something outside of your realm of responsibilities, take it as an opportunity to show that you are a team player and happily perform the task.
Be open to constructive criticism:
Again, remember that you are new so accept the fact that the potential for you to make mistakes in the beginning months will be quite high. Use them as opportunities to learn and to do better the next time. Be open to constructive criticism and you will do well and you will be able to improve. You also want others to feel comfortable in expressing their thoughts.
Build relationships: Connecting with your new team is imperative. Even if you don’t have an outgoing personality, do your best to get to know your colleagues, join them during lunches and team outings, and if you’re in an office, keep your door open.
Seek out a mentor:
The best way to familiarize yourself with a new role, company, and its culture is to develop a relationship with a professional who can be your mentor.
Make sure there is clarity about your 3 and 6 month expectations and deliverables. While these were probably discussed during the interview process, confirm them during your first week on the job. In addition, develop your own goals for achieving success early on and fitting in with the company and your team. Make sure your objectives are appropriate and, if necessary, cover them with your direct report before spending time on them.
Keep your private life just that – private: While you will eventually make friends within your new company or your new role, it’s best to keep your personal life and opinions private until you get to know others better. Over sharing is a thing.
Jump-start the on-boarding process yourself:
The on-boarding process can be a laborious task so ease into it by contacting your future employer prior to your first day to get any paperwork that could be completed in advance. Additionally, ask for any work or information that you can review or meetings that you can attend while finishing out your notice period with your previous employer. This can help ensure that you hit the ground running with your new employer. It also makes your transition into the company early on that much easier.
These recommendations are a great start for making your transition into a new role or organization a smooth one. If however you are a senior executive, you could have more difficulty with career transitions. Senior executives who accept new offers are expected to go into an organization and start getting things done immediately, while at the same time, developing positive relationships with your team and colleagues. More on that later.
Do you have any other Tips for Making a Smooth Transition? Share them in the comments
Well done you have been promoted! Congratulations! All that hard work and focus has finally paid off. You are in your first leadership role. It truly is something to be proud of.
A lot of people want to be promoted. They want the recognition that they have done a good job. However, a lot of challenges surface in a new leadership role. Leading people is very different from leading projects. Leading people taps into different aspects of your capabilities. The changes are also a little more subtle. Expectations from all levels in the company will also be different. What will be considered acceptable behaviour will also be very different. Relationships will be different. And no one gives you a handbook about what to expect.
Here are some of the changes that occur when you move into management and how to deal with them on an emotional, mental and physical level.
A Transition Model
A good way to think of transition is through the prism of William Bridges’ Transition Model.
It’s made up of three parts:
Accept that the status quo has changed and say goodbye to what was.
Expect discomfort and accept that when you start the change there will be many questions, but few answers. Understand that this is a temporary situation. It’s a period of time when you are going to be tested. Reflect, be flexible and move forward despite the uncertainty.
Revere the past and welcome the new.
Mark the end of the chapter
It can be helpful to mark the end of the old chapter with some sort of ritual. Rituals help you understand that a shift has taken place. It could be simple like going down memory lane and remembering things you did well, having a final dinner with old colleagues or taking a trip. Find a ritual to signify the end. Then you can move on to the next level.
Changes With Your Relationship With Yourself
How you see yourself must change in order to be an effective new leader.
Emotionally: Explore your emotions. As you enter this new phase are you feeling confident? Ambitious? Hesitant? Curious?
Mentally: Examine the mindsets you have about yourself. Are you feeling equal to your peer group? Are you deserving of this promotion? Are you ready? If not, what do you need to do to get ready?
Physically: Are you fit enough for the role? Will you be traveling? If your new role involves travel, it can be difficult to exercise while on the road. Take an inventory of your physical health and how you can improve or maintain it.
Relationship with Your Team
People are often promoted because they have shown competence on a technical or skills level. However, when they get into leadership they may not have been primed for the way their former peers, as well as their news ones, may see them. If you are promoted from within the ranks, there may be growing pains from your former peer group. You may be the one who “changed” now that you are in management. It’s a common problem.
Remember, always, that you’re supposed to be in this role. Your former peers may not see it, but there have been few promotions where everyone in the company agreed with it.
If underlings are complaining, there is likely a need buried in there. Ask them, specifically, what they want. What can you do to make it work? If you don’t call it out, the team may inadvertently sabotage the decisions that are being made. Calling it out shows that you’re in control and that you want to hear what they have to say.
Mentally: Set a vision for how you want to work with your new team. Make deliberate choices about your relationship with them. Be clear with yourself what you do and don’t want.
Feel free to join them for drinks, but establish boundaries. Leave after two drinks, for example, or limit socializing to lunches, etc. Even though you are part of the team, you can’t be one of them. It can hurt when you have to give tough feedback, etc.
Emotionally: Continue to empathize. Make sure they know you hear them. You may not agree with every suggestion they make, but validate their opinions and thoughts.
Be aware that your direct reports will share more information with you than they ever did if they were a peer. Some of it will be personal. Anticipate this aspect of leadership.
Physically: Decide how physically close you want to be to your direct reports. Even if you’re in an open office, establish boundaries. Maybe private conversations have to be held outside of the open area.
Relationship with Your Work
You go into a specific field because you like doing the actual work. You like writing the code or recruiting candidates. In leadership, the relationship to your work changes. Your value-add shifts. The pace of work slows and it’s less about the day to day output. Use the pace to your advantage.
Mentally: Accept that you are in it for the long-haul. Embrace that your biggest contribution is to create a new set of leaders.
Emotionally: Learn more about the people on your team. Even if you came up with them and think you know them, there are likely aspects to them you don’t know. In order to manage people, you’ll have to know about their professional goals, etc.
Physically: Find a way to do what you used to do — in small doses. You can’t lead and do the day-to-day work and do both well. Your direct reports also don’t want you doing their job, since it will make them miss out on opportunities to grow.
Relationship with Your Peers
Mentally: Expectations have changed at every level. Your new peers expect you to perform at their level. It’s not just about the quality of your work, it is also your attitude towards work. Your former peers may not confide in you anymore now that you are in management, and that’s okay. Accept that you now represent the organization as a member of the management team.
Emotionally: You may have a feeling of aloneness. Expect less feedback the higher up you go in the organization. Your direct reports will give you feedback, but your peers and your boss may not. Trust in yourself that you’re doing all right, otherwise you wouldn’t be where you are.
On that note, don’t be afraid to take risks to grow your self-confidence. You won’t lose your position over one bad move.
Physically: Remember: you represent the organization at outside associations and clubs.
The Take Away
Promotions and change are part of your professional career, and should be welcomed. Above all, it’s important to accept that they are transitions, and setting expectations for transitions is the first step to managing them. When you expect that there will be periods of uncertainty and that relationships with people may change, it’ll be easier to move through the change while still being productive.
Have you experienced any of these in your promotion? How have you navigated it – share your experience .