QI'm starting a new job soon, and don't have a good track record with making smooth transitions. What would you suggest to help me avoid the bumps?
A: Change can be hard, but I wonder how much of the bumpiness has to do with your perception vs. what others would report. Learn from the past and also make specific plans to move into your new role.
What do you think about when you face a change like a new job? If you're anxious and apprehensive, you'll create some realities in your mind that may not exist externally. Your clues will be the thoughts you have: "I won't fit in," "I won't understand what to do," or "This job won't be any better than the last one" will doom you to a rough start. Notice if these are the types of tapes you're playing so that you can consciously counter them.
Take the next step outward to review past behavior. List the things you'd have done differently with respect to learning your job, understanding the culture, creating relationships with the people, or any other aspect that has tripped you up in the past. You might not remember clearly now that time has passed, so ask others who were around, particularly family or friends. They may well have clearer memories, having lived through past changes with you.
It's one thing to say that you want to avoid the past, and another to know what you want instead. Prepare yourself by thinking through how a successful transition would look and feel. How will you feel at the end of the first day? What would you like to reflect on after your first week? After your first six months?
Now it's time to get your "start a new job" toolkit in order.
Item one: your attitude. As your first day approaches, notice and reverse any negative thinking. It may sound a bit artificial, but substituting positive thoughts for repetitive negative thoughts does have an effect. Often just noticing and stopping the negative ones makes a difference. After all, they are just an old habit, which probably doesn't serve you well anymore.
Item two: your plan. Make concrete steps to know how you'll achieve your ideal first day, first week and first month. Focus in particular on areas that have been hard in the past. For example, if the bumps have come from feeling too isolated from people and being perceived as unfriendly, have a plan that includes lunches with co-workers and enough time chatting. If they have come because you feel that your good ideas have been ignored, plan when and how to introduce them in order to be successful.
Item three: your support. Know who you'll turn to for reality checks and encouragement through the inevitable challenges that come with starting a new job. Be sure that you and your boss are on the same page with expected accomplishments so that you aren't surprised to find that you're underperforming.
You can take control of the transition, and, by managing your thoughts and behavior, get off to a good start.
Liz Reyer is a credentialed coach with more than 20 years of business experience. Her company, Reyer Coaching & Consulting, offers services for organizations of all sizes.