Last month, as you might have heard, I started a new job. At some point in your career, maybe you too have made the life-altering decision to start anew. If so, you know firsthand how exciting, challenging and sometimes disorienting the first 30, 60, 90 days can be. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately myself.
I am by no means an expert at these transitions, but I’ve always tried to be consistent in how I run, exit and begin in a new business. I thought I would share a few professional and personal insights which are helping me adapt to a new sector, culture and country. (Silicon Valley can feel like a country unto itself!)
First: “Stay in your lane.” You’ve been hired because you bring a certain expertise to the team and the company. Try to resist putting additional or undue pressure on yourself trying to learn it all from day one. It’s human nature to feel insecure about everything you “don’t know”. By staying focused on your core competencies you will be able to contribute much sooner, add greater value long term, and enjoy and have more peace especially in the early days.
My father used to always say, “Ask questions, don’t make assumptions.” Questions invite conversations, stimulate thinking, break down barriers, create positive energy and show your willingness to understand and learn. Questions show humility, acknowledgement and respect for the past, and give you greater insights into both the business and individuals. And don’t be afraid to ask personal questions or share a few of your personal details. Talking about weekend interests, family and friends can give you a more complete view of your peers and partners, their passion and compassion. Building a relationship is also the first step in building trust, which quickly leads towards alignment and unity.
Also, trust your instincts and emotions. Let them guide you in every situation; they will not fail you. Never will your objectivity be as clear or your instincts sharper than in the first 30-90 days. Cherish this time and fight the urge to overthink. Real human dialogue and interaction where you can feel and be felt will be invaluable as your vision, enabled by your instincts, becomes clearer. In honor of the great American poet Maya Angelou, always remember, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” I would argue this is even more important in the early days.
So remember, first impressions are truly lasting and if you want to overthink anything, overthink how others are perceiving you and your leadership. Are they quickly lining up to follow you? This could single-handedly determine the speed of your assimilation and the company’s success.