It has been a while since my last post, at least 4 weeks. Many of you have been wondering what I have been doing the last few weeks, especially since my last post, discussing a major reorganization, was published. Well, let me get you up to speed. As I mentioned in my last post, the reorganization resulted in me reporting into a senior leader who I really respected, so I was pretty happy. I was two days into my 10 day vacation (a cruise to Alaska) when the phone rang. Not noticing the number, I hesitated picking up but decided to take the call as I thought I may have been a customer inquiring as to the recently announced changes.
Much to my surprise, it was the newly promoted Senior Vice President of Marketing on the line. Lets call her Susan. I had worked with Susan in the past and we always got along. We shared similar views on some of the key players, both sought to be non-political, and we had some deep discussions on brand management (which I argued was a critical need in the company but nobody else had realized it yet). It turned out that Susan, in her newly expanded role, was looking to build out her management team and wanted me on her team. Basically, the company was split in two parts in the restructuring (Legacy Business and Advanced Technology) and she wanted me to be the marketing leader for the Advanced Technology group.
I wasn’t given much time to decide: only 24 hours. Aside from a new role and team, accepting the position would require a move from Montreal to Atlanta, the HQ of our publicly traded company. I was conflicted: I really liked Montreal and my team there was beginning to gain traction with the changes I had made. However, this new role was larger in scope, closer to the executive team and played more closely to my background and strengths. After a brief discussion with my wife, I accepted the new role.
As I mentioned in my inaugural post, I have been promoted on average every 18 months in spite of having numerous bosses in three different large, publicly traded companies. This latest promotion comes only 14 months into a transition into a new company and industry. As such, I feel now, more than ever, that the skills and tips in this blog are a powerful tool to turbocharge your career. As I transition into my new role, I have pulled together the following tips and insights that can help you successfully navigate a career transition:
- Ensure a smooth transition out of your old job. Anyone who has started a new role knows the initial response is to focus on the new role, which is wholly appropriate. However it is critically important to ensure that the job you are leaving is in good stead (whether or not you are leaving the company). Work with your backfill (if there is no backfill, work with the next layer of management) to ensure you minimize the impact on customers, employees and management (in that order). Set up a formal “hand off” meeting in which you develop a 90 day transition plan for management, your backfill, and the next layer of management. Set up weekly transition meetings to ensure the 90 day plan is going smoothly. Ensure all of the relevant parties have your contact information and that you make yourself available to answer any questions they may have.
- Focus on your new job- Immediately. On your new start date, you officially have a new job so make sure that the majority of your time is spent on your new role. Set up 1:1 meetings with all relevant peers, executives and direct reports to understand their needs, priorities, and what they expect from you and your team. Create a 90 day plan with your manager to ensure you are aligned on priorities and deliverables. Also, create your own Management Operating System (MOS) which is the series of meetings you will use to manage your team. Have a clear time, agenda, and objective for each.
- Get advice from your predecessor, but make the role your own. If you are replacing someone who is still at the company, ask for their advice. However, ensure you make the role your own. You were promoted due to your unique skills and vision, so respect the past but ensure you are creating your own future. Similarly…
- Do not get mired in your old role. This is a common issue for senior leaders, especially senior leaders leaving a role in which they were successful and comfortable. Basically, once you move on to a new role, you need to support your back fill, but you cannot be emotionally attached to your old team or position. Instead, you owe it to your back fill to ensure they have the opportunity to spread their wings and make the changes they feel fit to take your old team from good to great. This is much harder than it sounds. For example, my back fill already wants to roll back some of the changes I made and implement some new processes that may or may not work. I am often tempted to push back but I don’t because 1. I have biases that may or may not be true, and 2. I owe it to my replacement to make their own mark. This is how innovation works. Its awkward sometime, but it is the right thing to do. The last thing I would want in my new role is to have the former leader second guess and push back against the changes I want to make.
- Realize that life is about change and embrace it. Honestly, leaving Montreal will be bittersweet for me and my wife. I really enjoy the culture, city and team and I feel that one year is not long enough to experience all of richness Montreal has to offer. Plus, my wife recently found a job and I spent most of my career in pursuit of an international assignment. However, when opportunity comes knocking you better answer the door. Instead of dwelling on the past we are looking to make the most of our move back to the United States with its (substantially) lower taxes and (substantially) warmer winters. One upside is I will still be responsible for the Marketing of the business in Montreal and Lyon, France so I will be traveling to those locations frequently.
Another year, another change. I am learning that careers are less of a “process to be managed” and more of a “journey to be enjoyed.” I offer you, my loyal reader, a sincere apology for the long absence and pray for your understanding. With this new role will come new insights I am excited to share with you.
P.S. Due to my expanded role and hectic travel schedule, and a sincere desire to share advice and insights to readers so that you, too, can excel in the corporate world, I am opening this post to other corporate warriors who have insights and advice to share. If you are interested in submitting a post, please contact me in either the comments or the “Contact CWM” section. You do not need to be a senior executive to post, all levels and experience are welcome. The only rules are that you work in the corporate world, have valuable insights to share, and are willing to engage with the CWM community.