Finding a new job is often a long and arduous journey. It’s little wonder that many job seekers feel that the hard work has been completed when they land a new role. But to make all that hard work worthwhile and the career transition a success, there is more effort required.
This month, we explore the importance of successful career transitions in HR, drawing on the experience of two senior HR practitioners who have gone through significant career shifts and their approaches to the first 100 days in a new role.
A planned approach
At a recent seminar hosted by The Next Step, Dharma Chandran, Chief Human Resources Officer for Leighton Holdings, and Jim Nolan, Human Resources Director for AMP Financial Services, discussed their approach to their first 100 days in a new role.
One of the clear messages was that a planned approach pays dividends. Dharma indicated that he has been putting in place 100 Day Plans for career transitions for many years (for both transitions within existing companies and to new companies).
Dharma indicated that his early days in management consulting has provided him with the structure to take a planned approach to his career which even includes visualising himself in the role right from the point when he is first approached about it. Before a transition, Dharma also undertakes a comprehensive literature research of the organisation, which includes reading recent press and financial reports.
Dharma further suggested that consulting with current and ex-employees has enabled him to formulate the right questions to ask of the business, and also allows him to gauge what is important to the organisation – which allows him to start off on the right foot once he has secured the role.
Jim agreed that the foundations for success in a new HR role are laid before day one. His own personal emphasis in terms of pre-employment due diligence involves gathering enough information to give him the confidence that HR will be able and permitted to change the business that he is considering joining.
Get your feet under the desk – A thing of the past
The expectations placed on senior leaders starting in a new organisation are greater now than in the past. For Jim, a key to success in the first 100 days is finding that delicate balance between long-term change and short-term delivery. The importance of short-term wins, he said, “shouldn’t be underestimated – this creates the ‘pull factor’ and credibility that lets you work successfully in the strategic space.”
Jim also indicated that managing expectations is a key requirement. He said that the focus should always be on the top three things on the minds of the CEO and Executive Team, and aligning this with HR priorities and then agreeing on what is realistically deliverable and by when.
Dharma agreed, placing an emphasis on having conversations at the Executive and Board level to determine what those priorities might be. He cautioned that there is no time in 100 days to gain absolute and widespread consensus on matters – making the depth of the conversations that take place and the research that is undertaken prior to commencing a new role all the more important.
Acknowledge the past; plan for the future
At the seminar, one point that was discussed was the tendency of HR practitioners to move into a new role with a predetermined agenda centring on organisational change. This can result in practitioners leaping straight into the fray without acknowledging and respecting the history of the organisation and what has made it successful in the past.
This approach can de-rail the change before it has even begun. It is human nature to change whatever is wrong when first encountered. Dharma said that if successful change is to take place, however, employees need to tell the story of their organisation and be given the opportunity to acknowledge the things that have been done well.
Jim said that when moving into any role, he is very mindful that the organisation and its people have been very successful and that acknowledging and respecting the past is important. Jim said that in moving to a successful company like AMP, it was that much easier as there was so much for the company to be proud of.
The final word
The first 100 days in a new role can make or break a HR practitioner’s success. In an environment where demands are higher than ever, career transitions need to start as early as possible to be successful – even while the selection process is still taking place!
This approach will not only facilitate HR professionals to hit the ground running and make a positive first impression, but will also ensure that they get ahead of the game and deliver strong business outcomes, giving everyone the confidence that the fit between employee and organisation will be a successful one in the long term.
About the author
Adam Wilson is a Senior Consultant in the permanent recruitment team at The Next Step’s Sydney Office. For additional information call (02) 8256 2500 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Web: www.thenextstep.com.au