Here comes the third and last contribution of three postings that examine what happens in the heart and in the head of a new recruit during the first three months in the new job.

Victor answers to 5 questions after 4, 8 and 12 weeks which will allow us to compare what has changed on the way.

Read on Victor’s report on the third month in the new job and learn about his priorities, successes and frustrations. The report will close with his top 3 tips on what to do and top 3 things to avoid:

Question 1: “You started your new job 12 weeks ago. In which mindset did you start this third month and how has it changed since the beginning? What is your feedback today and which emotional evolution did you undergo since you wrote the last posting?” Victor: “I started this third month differently to the first two. 2 months in the job, you pretty much know most of its parameters: how friendly and professional are the people you are working with, how much means will you have to achieve the goals at you have been assigned… how much work-life balance can be reached… But also very practical elements: How good is the food? How long is your commute going to be? Etc.

Emotionally, it went down a lot in this month because fairly naturally you tend to focus on the downsides in order to try to fix them (you can’t but you keep hoping you can). So much so that you only see these and not the massive upside of you being in this great new job.”

Question 2: “What were your top 3 priorities for this third month on board?” Victor: “My top 3 priorities were:

  1. Plan for next year and in the process get group to support my positioning here locally through generous funding.
  2. Build new allies at group level and at local board level
  3. Start delivering tangible results such as a new brand campaign and a significant change to an existing product suite.”

Question 3: “What is your biggest achievement during the last 4 weeks and what is the biggest regret or frustration?”
Victor: “The biggest achievement: I got approval for a significant refurbishment of all points of sales throughout the country. This is a tangible result that will be not only visible to all staff but also to the open market as well.

Biggest frustration: my relationship with some key stakeholders (namely CFO, Sales Director) is not strong enough. I did not manage yet to create true bond and trust. This was partly for lack of time, partly because of early politics. Both reasons are very bad reasons…”

Question 4: “Victor, please draw a conclusion and be critical with yourself and your boss. Please think back of day 1 and tell us what is the difference to today: what are the top 3 tips you can give to any candidate in the same situation? And what are the 3 traps to avoid and the mistakes you did or avoided?” Victor: “If I think of now versus Day 1, I would say that the honeymoon is clearly over. I feel my boss is comfortable with how I interact with peers and guide my team (the HOW) but there is now higher than ever expectations on delivery (the WHAT).

I feel both he and I have made the most to make my induction work. Critical element has been very early and frequent feedback. Better give early feedback even if not very much backed up by evidence than no feedback at all. As we say, “impression is reality” and “feedback is always a gift”. 

As a matter of fact, I had worked so hard on my weaknesses – unknown to my new boss – that they turned out to be strengths to his eyes in my early feedback. What a great personal achievement for me! I had read and heard so much about focusing on playing on one’s strengths rather than trying to fix weaknesses that I did not believe this could work…

My top three tips for anyone I my position:

  1. Be open: Show open mindfulness interest and willingness to integrate: being brought in a new environment within the same company does not give you the right to come with conceived ideas. Think (or at least pretend) people do things for a reason. Challenge reasons, not people. Assess current results in view of the strategy in place but don’t judge strategies and the people who came up with it, etc…
  2. Choose your battles: Everyone is looking at you, how you handle first complex situations, how you go about disagreement, they then draw conclusions on how much character you have. Peers also look at what you consider your perimeter to be (let’s be frank, it is never what it is supposed to be in the first place. Whether it is less or more largely depends upon you). Fight too early and too strong on some items and you will be considered as someone difficult to work with. Avoid conflict at pretty much all cost and you will be considered as a weak addition to the team. In general I find it very useful to be fairly unpredictable in terms of what you are ready to yield in or not.
  3. Show you enjoy being there: A lot of people asked me “why did you decide to move over here?” Answering “because it is a great professional move for me and I really felt like being in this type of environment” caused surprise and sympathy from all. Telling people you are here because it makes sense for the company or because you have been asked to bring in such or such expertise is not a great way to make bonds.

Three great traps
to avoid:

  1. Focusing too strong on results too quickly: People buy people, not machines. Results alone will not get you anywhere.
  2. Bad timing for revealing your vision/ roadmap: Too soon and you run a risk of not showing the right direction by lack of understanding the business. Too late and your people will not follow you any longer.
  3. Avoiding the contradiction with your new boss: This can be very damaging in the long run as it might put you in a mode where you will NEVER be able to disagree and make your opinion heard. Playing YES man is always easy and comfortable but will cost you tons!”

Conclusion: “Victor, thanks for this report on your third month in the job and the two previous ones. You and I will stay in touch but the readers won’t follow you from this day onwards. What is the future for you in this new job? Will you stay? Will it work out the way you hoped?” 
Victor: “You are very welcome Jorg, it was a pleasure. A lot happened to me in the last 4 months, some of it predictable; some of it took me by surprise. This is the beauty of changing jobs. When it can be done within a same company, changing environment and job is a fantastic opportunity with limited risks. It makes for a sense of adventure, “revitalizes” your professional appetite, can mobilize the entire family, and overall makes you a stronger man…

My new job is not my dream job, but clearly a job that will stop me dreaming of a new job. I have a two to three year horizon on this job. Change will happen in these years for sure and I will certainly need a bit of luck again, not just hard work, to make it work for me rather than against me.”

About the interviewee:

Victor is a Marketing and Sales executive in the Financial Services industry in France. In the past, he has worked as EMEA Marketing Manager for a US-based software vendor and prior to this as a Management Consultant with a Top 5 Audit and Consulting firm in London. He has worked in multiple geographies including the UK, the US and France. Victor holds an MBA from INSEAD.