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  • Writer's pictureAdil Malia

Cautious Speeding on the New-Track

Parachuted into a new organisation, the new manager has to be cautious but needs to certainly accelerate his up-so-speed learning. Cautious speeding and systematic re-seeding halts initial corporate bleeding.

Taking over as a Manager in a new Company, is a different challenge. However great as an actor you may be, each role you play is different. There is a different story line, a different back script, even a different set of relationships between the configuration of different characters in the new role.

If you as the new Manager do not recognise this but get into your new role with naivety, you do so at your peril. Safety Caution : You are about to enter a system where you are the only outsider and everyone else is an insider !!

The King is dead . Long live the new King !! Whilst your welcome party will echo such sentiments, remember, you are replacing the old King. His style, his friends, his protagonists and his mouthpieces would have all left it's hangover on the team you have inherited. It is never very easy to fit into someone else's shoes. Phantom of the Opera will dance.

The first resolution will have to be around the underpinning sentiments dating back to decisions even before you landed on ground : no one can replace him...we have a unique culture, we need an insider...he is from that Co which is friend has worked under him, he is not the right guy !

Of course there will be another faction riding the sentiment : we need an outsider, we didn't have skills...he seems good, let's try him out. Be non-committal. This is not your doing. Do not make political statements. Don't speak against the Old King and don't ever make a blunder of going for the jugular of those who rejected the idea of you.

There may also be some aspiring crowned Princes who may have been subsequently rejected by the system. They are your biggest challenge. They would tend to see you as the source of their frustrations. They may actively resist you. But more dangerously passively resist you whilst actively acknowledging you as the new King. The sooner you find your reconciliation to balance this equation , whichever way, the better. The first set of rumours around you in the new organisation , generally could be traced back to the frustrated Crown Princes. Don't worry. These rumours will soon die down (as fast and bizarre as they came).

Post one-on-one meetings (and this is the biggest investment you should make), setting up a common team meeting to address the team's 'curiosity' questions around you, would help you to break ice with your new team faster. At GE we used to call this 'New Manager Assimilation Program'. The NMAP would be supported by a technique where they would place an empty bucket in which the team members would drop their curious questions anonymously written on chits. The new Manager would open them one by one and address the same in all honesty. Albeit, humour allowed, one rule here is no hitting below the belt. The new manager then asks open counter questions to his team. This then becomes the opportunity for the new leader to set out his new agenda for the team.. how shall we now work?....what is ON...what is OFF.. what should change.. etc. etc.

Simultaneously, around the same time, you will have to discover nuances of an equally power-packed relationship.. with your Boss. It would be a folly to start working with your new Manager, the same way as you did with your Manager in the previous Co. Cautiously discover and maturely nurture this relationship, is what I would prescribe. Invest in this relation. Agree on expectations, deliverables, review times etc. with him. Don't be in a haste for a break- through.

Whilst the spider of this new relational maze is spinning it's web around you, need for you to also know your job, your scorecard, your customers, SOPS, budgets , Annual Business Plans, pending projects, Value Chain etc. All equally pressing. Eventually, you will as you progress, learn all this. But if you want to accelerate your up-so-speed learning, whilst depend on the organisational Induction & Orientation Program, design your own learning agenda and augment the Orientation Module with the same.

One other ways to accelerate your learning is to identify in general conversations with people, names of Subject Matter Experts, Value Chain Champions and Culture Influencers. Learn about their backgrounds. Try and graciously reach out to them with an idea to get you the real inner nuances of success in the system. The formal Orientation Program may not be able to do to the fullest extent. Your best opening line in such situations would be..."I have checked out with a lot of people in our system and have realised that my best bet of learning about xxxxx, is to personally seek your indulgence. So here I am, can you please be my coach? "

To be able to engage in meaningful contributions at full throttle, soon within the new system, engaging with people and investing time for one-on-one meetings, is very critical.

Getting a big job is good luck. But retaining it is certainly more planned work than just good luck. And here's wishing you good luck for that !!!

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