So you're moving on to a new adventure, and a new team. You've learned a lot from your previous role at Hypergrowth, Inc, and built on your time with Megacorp and Uni. It's time to try small and growing this time.
Let's call this one Disruptors, Ltd. Disruptors, Ltd is small, lean, and looking to grow. They're sustainable, but just. In your first week, you wonder if you've made the right choice and have a few sleepless nights.
But Disruptors, Ltd has given you a new opportunity – a chance to come into a team that's eager to grow and learn. You can really shape these folks and set them on the right path. But it's different. And different is scary.
A colleague once made the analogy between career growth and an operating system. You get entrenched in your role after awhile, and things get stuck in your working memory and start slowing down your performance. In order to start working at peak performance again, you have to reboot.
Take a moment to save the things that worked well for you in your last role. What techniques were really useful for connecting with your folks? What things did you learn from your colleagues about building and managing? Put those in permanent storage, then forget everything else.
You've got an upgraded operating system, patched quietly over the previous few years. And like that OS update, it won't start working well until you reboot.
If you keep too much of your previous role, you're going to drive yourself crazy making comparisons. Their onboarding is going to be different. They're going to have different processes around, well, everything. "But at Hypergrowth, they had everything figured out!", you might say to yourself. And yes, of course they did – they were 3 years and several hundred million dollars of funding ahead of where your new folks are now.
Fight the urge to make change to justify your fancy new title. Stop. Listen. Talk to people. Learn about what makes them tick; what they love about their work; what keeps them up at night. Be the new, completely naive set of eyes, ignorant to the entrenched history behind processes and working styles. Ask questions. Stupid questions. Use this time to build trust with your team and to shed habits and attitudes that you had in your previous role. You're not in the same role you were before, and you're not the same person you were either.
Because you might find, during that first couple of weeks, that you can't take a full quarter to get settled. Despite holding back on making premature changes as you learn about your new team, you might see some systemic issues that need to be addressed. And that's hard to do when the business is relying on your folks to plan work, build, and – most importantly – bring in critical, life-sustaining revenue for the company. It takes a soft reset, and a leap of faith from your new team, who hasn't really seen what you're capable of yet, to start instituting change this early.
Start making use of that nascent trust to bring the issues you're seeing to light. There's a very good chance that at least some of the team will see exactly what you're seeing, and be open to figuring a way to make things better. Bring in the lessons you learned from your previous roles, and use past experience to guide your team down a new path. Be crystal clear that you're not doing this in isolation, and that you're not only looking to them for input, but giving them agency to help blaze the path towards a better way. Take the time to talk to each of them individually to get their perspective on what is or is not working for the team. Then bring them all together for the exact same conversation.
Start applying those same patches you've learned in your previous roles to the team, and get them ready for a quick reboot.