The transition to a new assignment

To develop a career, it is necessary to change position and sometimes necessary change job. A new start always includes many changes. We meet new associates and new colleagues. A new assignment will have different requirements in the working style, knowledge base, and conditions. The higher up in the hierarchy the change, the less help you will get. The associates expect that you will immediately implement changes to better the working conditions. Your bosses expect that the new guy will take the business to a higher level of excellence. What should you do to successfully manage this change?

The expectations of your direct boss are normally communicated first. He employed you, and you have already spoken with him. But even this information is not always complete.  Preparation for the new assignment should consider the following points:

  • Gathering information about the new business field and its current conditions
  • Common knowledge on information about the products and the production processes
  • All available information about the new company
  • Prepare an introductory speech to your employees (if possible, do this with your boss)

During the first week, you should take the opportunity to introduce yourself to your colleagues and departments or business unit leaders. Another important task is to organize with all your direct reports a four eyes meeting. This gives you the opportunity to learn something about them, and it gives them the opportunity to address the new boss. You get a picture of their character and their targets.

After this is done, you should go to the different departments that report to you to give them the opportunity to introduce themselves and to recognize you and your expectations. The above mentioned elements are the necessary tasks. Sometimes it is helpful, after two or three weeks, to host a workshop with those reporting directly to you. You can explain your expectations and your targets during this workshop. It is also helpful if you give the employees the opportunity to write questions to you anonymously that you can answer during the workshop. The anonymity is helpful to ascertain any employee doubts that they will not bring to you personally. You can also implement rules for working together as a team.

Try to define your targets during the first three weeks of your new assignment and make them measurable by defining the related key performance indicators. This provides a quick overview of the action areas that need your focus. ”A new broom sweeps clean.” Do not hesitate to implement these first actions. Your superiors will not understand later why you want to implement changes.

You should implement rules for the day and for general meeting procedures. I personally like to start the day in production with a “Go to GEMBA” on certain agreed points, to meet the line responsibly, and to listen to their problems of that day. An engineering department should also have a fifty minute meeting to discuss daily tasks and to share information about problems. I saw in a department for software development the rule that every morning, for fifty minutes, they discuss issues or why a certain way to write a program was not successful. So it was not necessary to try this way for the others. During this time, no meeting should occur. Standard meetings should have time limits and should take place on the same day each week or each month. This creates the opportunity to focus on discipline and standards and gives room for workshops and strategic work without disturbance.

The above mentioned issues should help you make a proper start in a new assignment. Try to organize your private thoughts so that you can concentrate during your first weeks in the new assignment. You have one chance to make a first impression. Prepare yourself and do not fail.

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