Congratulations, you got that promotion, you landed that new job! Your focus and commitment to ‘moving on’ has paid off and you can relax now, right?
When I coach people through their career transitions, I can sometimes see the expectation that the work ends once the new role has been found and ‘won’.
For many people there is a tendency to believe we can immediately move out of one thing into another, with very little consideration about how we need to ‘be’ in the new role. We can cross our fingers and hope for the best, or we can equip ourselves to be far more effective by considering the following.
In managing personal change it pays to think on the real shifts that are going on as we move into the new. We don’t simply ‘jump’ into what is required of us. We transition through a phase of experimenting and adapting, gradually sliding from the old state into the new. ‘Joan Bloggs’ who gets the a promotion into a new leadership position may, or may not, be working in the same sector or department than before, bringing with it a certain amount of technical challenges. However, chances are it will be the degree of self-insight and self-awareness, and how best to apply that, which will offer the biggest hurdles (or opportunities) to being successful.
Jenny Bird and Sarah Gornall in ‘The Art of Coaching: A Handbook of Tips & Tools’*, describe this as the ‘Transition Slice‘. Simply put, this is a rectangle with the ‘old’ operating system on the left and the ‘new’ operating system on the right. Overlay that with a diagonal line with the old gradually decreasing and the right slowly increasing. Where you are at any point in your transition period can been seen as a vertical line cutting through both – a ‘transition slice‘. At that point you have a certain amount of the ‘old’ you are reducing and a certain degree of ‘new’ increasing, until eventually you emerge fully on the right hand side, in the ‘new’.
Looking at this model, you can start to appreciate that shifting into a new role is not a sudden jump into ‘being’ everything you need to be, know and act. It’s a gradual process of ‘letting go’ of old habitual ways of doing things as you develop and increase your focus and capacity for new understanding and appropriate behaviours.
For example, what used to work very well for you in your old job may not necessarily be what you need in your new role. Seeing yourself sliding into position in this way gives you an opportunity to reflect on ‘what do you need to give up?’ as well as ‘what needs to happen now?’ We can offer ourselves far greater chances of success if we embrace this process of transition and not pile the pressure on ourselves (and others) to be fully able to function in the ‘new’ right from the start.
Rhian Sherrington is a Career Coach, Choose2Flourish Ltd, who supports people seeking to shift from a place of stressed out making do, to thriving in careers that make them happy and fulfilled. Her book ‘Choose to Flourish: How to change career and thrive in life‘ was a best seller on Amazon and can be found here.
* Bird, J & Gornall, S (2016) The Art of Coaching: A Handbook of Tips and Tools, Routledge.