Job changes are critical times, and people are flooded with advice about how to look for a new job, go after a promotion or internal move, or make their mark on a new team. This guidance is all-the-more important as employers and workforce trends drive a continual stream of new hires and internal role shifts.
Our research has shed light on the role networks play in personal and team effectiveness—and the importance of helping people initiate, engage and refine their networks through role transitions.
Fast Movers Reveal Network Strategies
We learned that it takes 3-5 years to replicate the kinds of connections that distinguish high performers in a given organization. But we also identified a group of “Fast Movers” who accomplish this after just 9-12 months! These newcomers were productive more quickly, more engaged and more likely to stay in the organization.
To understand what these Fast Movers did differently, I interviewed 160 high-performing leaders (80 men and 80 women) across 20 organizations. Focusing on themes and commonality, I was able to identify 12 practices that people used to develop an effective network during role transitions. These practices resulted in higher productivity and early wins, which helped them build a solid reputation and position themselves for future success.
Different Path for Different Role Transitions
But I also learned the path is different for different types of role transitions. Our most recent work is taking this idea further.
We engaged a community of world-class business and talent management experts to give our 12 practices a trial run. We held feedback sessions to learn what else they would need to bring a network approach to their people. This action research helped us appreciate the unique context of different transitions and map out the pacing and priority of the 12 practices for a range of contexts or types of role changes.
For example, it may be intuitive that executives entering a new company need to initiate, engage and refine their networks differently than recently a promoted leader, or an early career new hire, or a person accepting a lateral transfer or role shift—but what specifically should each do and when?
This body of work will roll out in 2020, but here is some top-line guidance.
An executive joining a new company needs to surge early with proactive outreach to a broad, cross-boundary network. Establishing these ties early on is crucial—but how a new executive presents themselves in the early months is equally important. More effective people engage their new colleagues by aligning their expertise to context and others’ goals, prioritizing trust and pursuing mutual wins. Later—9 to 12 months in—they will need to refine their new network to minimize the likelihood of collaborative overload.
A promoted leader who is well-established within the company needs to rapidly gain the trust of their new teams and co-workers. They need to quickly connect with formal and informal network opinion leaders. Early on, they must also prune their existing network to reduce collaborative overload and make time and space for the new connections that will be critical for future success.
Any new hire moving into a new organization will want to pursue a broad network—not simply building relationships within their current team or project. During early introductions and opportunities to work with new people, it is important for people to engage in ways that draw others to them and their ideas—not push or over-sell themselves. This includes positioning their expertise to align with the new context, cultivating the network through early accomplishments and establishing trust. By doing these things, the new hire begins to build a reputation as someone others want to work with and will seek out.
When a role transitions involves a lateral move, shift in responsibilities, or a new team or project, the first priority is to connect with influencers in the new context. Who are the network opinion leaders inside and outside of the core group? Then, the newcomer should engage these influencers and team members in a tailored way, aligning expertise to the current context and strengthening that network through early accomplishments.
We also have started to look at role transitions through the lens of diversity and inclusion. We have some great research revealing the network habits of successful women and are pairing that with our 12 practices to provide guidance for women taking on new roles and entering new organizations. For example, research shows women tend to have “stickier” relationships, which means they may not be building the new relationships they need in a different role or setting. Building a network to address gaps in awareness, skill or expertise and dialing back on established relationships will help prevent collaborative overload and avoid common career-derailing network traps.
By building out the pathways to success for some of the most common role transitions, we hope to help people at all levels and career stages navigate these changes and generate positive outcomes for themselves and their organizations.
Find out more about our Fast Movers research and the 12 practices in our white paper, Accelerating Transitions: Initiate, Engage and Refine Networks for Success in New Roles. And explore our Accelerate Role Transitions courses, tools and videos, including new certification, workbooks and facilitator guides.Share!