So it’s been a little over a week since my first day in my new role (if you missed the news, catch up here), and it’s been such an amazing first few days! It’s not every day you get to return to a company that you not only loved working for, but also loved the people you were working alongside. Since my first day back in the building I’ve been flooded with congratulations, positivity and assistance as I work to get up to speed. But this transition into the promotions director role has been really enlightening for a few different reasons. While I anticipated switching industries and positions would have its challenges, I’ve already picked up on a few imperative skills that are helping make said switch as seamless as possible. So in this post I’d like to share some of my biggest lessons learned thus far. No matter the industry or the position you’re stepping into, I think these tips will be helpful for all!
It sounds so elementary, but I’ve noticed how incredibly important it is to listen critically. Not only am I meeting new faces, whose names matter, but I’m also being introduced to new content, new processes and new responsibilities within my role. So as much as I may want to share ideas as they come, talk about my past experiences or dive into brainstorming sessions headfirst, I don’t think the first week is necessarily the time to do that. Instead, I’m seizing this opportunity to listen closely, ensuring I’m understanding and working on getting myself up to speed on current priorities, key accounts and important processes.
I wish I could shout out one of my new team members, but truthfully, I don’t know her well enough to predict her computability with that! She’s been a huge help and put up with way more than 21 questions. Over the last 9 days I have asked so many questions, and you can ask anyone, I always leave meetings saying, “I reserve the right to come back with more!”
Over the years I’ve heard a lot of students and former co-workers express hesitation is asking questions – fear of being chastised for not knowing something is a real thing. But, from where I’m sitting, I don’t know what I don’t know. I’m surrounded by a team of incredibly talented people across six floors in our building, and I view each of them as a wealth of information. Depending on the situation I may write my questions down and save them for later, or, if I feel comfortable enough, I may ask then and there. Regardless, I would encourage anyone on-boarding to ask questions. They’re how you learn!
This is one of my favorite aspects of the first week. Now, I will say, depending on who you ask this may/may not be a first week-ish activity. Per one of my Director’s recommendations, I’ve been reading The First 90 Days an awesome read that can help new leaders work through adjusting to the newness of an organization. Author Michael Watkins recommends setting priorities for who you meet with, and while his strategy is a bit different from mine, I like to think we’re on the same page. Ish!
My specific role is one that works across two stations at Emmis, so I’ve not only got a group of programmers for each station, but there’s on-air talent, my fellow promotions team, a digital team and a sales team, among a variety of others. In all honesty, if I’m doing my job well, all of these entities will be happy and successful because they will have what they need to ensure business is and continues booming. So for me, the first step was meeting one-on-one with as many of them as I could. In my first four days I met with 12 people. Over the course of the next three weeks I plan to meet with about 12 more.
These meetings aren’t necessarily just work-related. Yes, I ask about key clients, industries they typically handle, what’s most important to them, from me, and address any current priorities/successes/challenges, but I also seize the opportunity to learn something about them. So far I’ve learned some really cool things about some really awesome people. I’ve met an account executive who enjoys historical reenactments so much she participates in them, a digital Director from Chicago who was familiar with the Hoopeston Cornjerkers (bet you have no idea what I’m talking about!), and learned that many current employees left and returned to the company throughout their career, similar to how I have. It’s been awesome to create those more personal connections with our team. While I’m sure conflict will arise in the future, I’m confident there will be ways to manage and resolve said conflict that only strengthens my work relationships.
I alluded to this a bit in the ask questions area, but log your ideas! The first 100 days, give or take, are going to be the most critical days to learning the organization. From culture to people to processes, everything I’m doing right now requires careful thought and a great deal of learning. As I get more comfortable, and get more experience executing some of these tactics, they will inevitably get easier! When that time comes, I’ll have a notebook full of ideas to prioritize and hopefully can begin developing strategies to make a meaningful difference for my stations.
Dive in, kind of.
Look, even though I pride myself on being able to do it all, the fact of the matter is the first few months at an organization require a great deal of patience and learning. But that doesn’t mean you can’t dive in! Whether it’s setting up meetings, reading reference material, or reviewing the website to get a feel for content and messaging – there are more than a few ways you can dive in, cautiously! Of course, you’ll want to work with your supervisor to set priorities, but if yours is as awesome as mine, s/he will trust you to tackle the tasks you know you can handle. Then, when you have your one-on-one huddles (aka meetings), you can blast her/him with a million questions about everything you need some guidance on!
Whether you’re starting a new job, approaching a new project, or just reading my blog for fun, I’d love to hear what you think. Comment below and share some of your biggest suggestions for embarking on a new professional adventure, and as always, stay tuned for more!