Someone I know recently got into a new job at a large digital agency.
It’s her first leadership role.
She wants to do it right and asked for my advice.
This is what I told her and will tell you if you are getting into a new job.
Doing well in a new role has 3 things at play. Your skills, managing expectations, and managing relationships.
Here is how you can ace these.
1. Become really good at what you do
Read and learn to fill the gaps. Ask for advice from those who’ve done it before. Finish what you got to do early, a day or two before the deadline, and then use that space to add your special touch.
2. Manage expectations well
Since projects define agency work, so get clarity on projects that you are on. Ask everyone involved questions, and keep doing that until everything is clear. Document what you are supposed to do, and then get a sign-off/ confirmation from your manager. Propose a timeline for when you’ll finish everything, and then see if everyone is fine with it. Schedule check-ins with the boss/team working on a project long before delivery, to confirm that the direction you are taking is right. This way you won’t have to redo something and start from scratch. Rely on the team/colleagues to guide you on missing pieces.
3. Managing relationships
Identify key partners – the boss, people on an account, project manager, content, design folks, and other colleagues and cross-functional partners. Mingle but not at the cost of work. Beware of upward delegation, like the team you are leading delegating work to you. Don’t revolt in the beginning if this happens but be aware and fix it slowly if it happens. Communication is the glue for relationships, so communicate often and early. This will also help manage relationships.
Relationship with your boss
Ask your manager – what success looks like for her. Then over-communicate about what you are doing day-to-day. This is super important in the beginning before you’ve built a trusted relationship. Don’t let her, for even a day, think or worry about, what you are up to. Every day write a short email w/ ‘this is what I did today.. is this the way you want it?’ Be open to suggestions. This will be an extra effort and may increase expectations but worth it in the beginning. It will build trust and keep the possibility of micromanagement off the table.
Understand what her priorities are. Then help her shine in front of her boss, without worrying about who gets the credit.
Relationship with those you are leading
Ask the people/person what you should know/do to do things the right way, and also to get a good handle on work because they have been there before you. Honour that. Be in learning mode, about who they are, and how they work, and how can you help them do their work better.
To inspire people, those you are leading or anyone else is to be true to your word, know what you are doing and come with ideas and activities that can make people’s life workwise easy.
Aim for one small win on the first day of your new job. Then one small win in your 1st week. Aim for another bigger win during your first month on the job.
Avoid stepping on someone’s toes. Once you get a hang of culture, and how things are done, err on the side of action.
Ask a lot of open-ended questions, to get people talking and learn. Go everywhere with an empty cup at least for the first 3-6 months. Let your work speak for who you are and what you can do.
Above all, take care of yourself. Eat, sleep well. If I were in your place, I’d come early and get a headstart on the day but will avoid staying back late or taking work home.
Living close to work if you can because it saves you a ton of time and energy. You can use this time and energy to take care of yourself, learning and filling the gaps and going the extra mile.
Be on time. A friend once told that if you are not early then you are late. This advice has served me well.
Hope this is helpful as you get going in your new job.