14 September 2015 10:28:30 IST

Take charge, now!

If you fail to, you may be quickly deemed as someone who is a wrong hire or choice for promotion

It is estimated that an average executive takes on a new role, or job, every two to three years. More recently, this time span has become even shorter. With each such change in the role or responsibility, it can take up to six months or more to settle down and go from being a consumer of corporate value to becoming a contributor. However, given the pace at which things are moving, more successful executives are those that shrink their “time to value” and become noticed for their contribution.

There are many roads to shortening the time to value, but experts suggest that there are six key elements involved in doing so effectively. Briefly, they go as follows:

1) Craft a clear learning journey for yourself: Smart leaders prepare well in advance, often even ahead of the transition into the new job and continue to do so even as they assume and perform the new role. Looking at a wide range of sources for information will help get a more complete and accurate picture of the situation. If your new role involves managing people for the first time, taking time to understand what motivates and inspires a team, how to communicate effectively, the vision and values and the like would be a good preparation. Organisational processes and policies that are meant for a people manager are critical, to learn and master, sooner the better.

2) Promote and protect yourself: This simply means letting go of the past role and promoting yourself to the new role. For many, this does not come easy. It is not uncommon that an HR leader or CFO getting promoted into a business role often persist with the past and spend a whole lot of time in their comfort zone of crunching numbers or dealing with people issues that are best left to the successor in HR.

3) Build and expand your new network: As you change your role, it is important to reassess your networks and add/expand it appropriately. A substantial part of any successful transition is building newer and stronger relationships at work. It is equally important to understand the changed expectations from the new role. Job descriptions barely describe the performance expectations.

4) Get to know the new team: As you gain new team members, who sometimes report directly you, it is important to build a good chemistry with them at the earliest, understand and address their concerns about your styles and expectations. They, perhaps, will hold the key to the larger part of your smooth settling down and eventual success. Higher the degree to which you and your team members work out the mutual expectations about performance goals, review schedules, roles and priorities, the better your chances of success. McKinsey & Company reminds new leaders that a leader’s first task is to give team members an opportunity to talk – and take that same opportunity to listen. Unfortunately, many new leaders just do the opposite- start giving their war stories.

5) Manage drinking from the fire hose: New roles and jobs can be overwhelming as the workload begins to gradually increase after the initial week of everything looking great! It is important to organise the work and prioritise right from the beginning and secure small wins on the job. The overwhelming workload can only be likened to “drinking from the fire hose.”

Team members will test the waters by upward delegating “their monkeys” to your shoulders if you are not careful. The desire to please everybody should be handled with maturity and care to avoid being marooned by the load.

6) Focus on the future: Many a time, we tend to live in the past – our successes, and forget the fundamental fact that corporates demand performance on a daily basis and resting on past laurels become a baggage. Past can be a source of energy, but not the one that will propel you into the future. New stripes and stars have to be earned afresh and every day

New jobs and new role changes do bring in a lot of excitement. But expectations far exceed the excitement in a very demanding corporate environment. No one can afford the luxury of taking several weeks to settle down and create value. Speed is of the essence and, therefore, it is worth remembering that if one does not take charge fast, one may even get dismissed as a wrong hire or choice for promotion.

To read more from the From the Coach section, click here .