From “Transition” To Transformation

By Angela Lane & Sergey Gorbatov



Beyond Successful Transition

Especially in the era of the “great resignation”, many people find themselves starting a new role. They may, or may not, be prepared. In our experience, the necessity to “ace your transition” is understated. Many employees take the transition for granted. Why?


Well, many of us “goal set TO…” achieve a goal. For example, we goal set to “be promoted to Sales Manager”. Or to “become a Vice President”. Many employees fail to “goal set THROUGH”. For example, “to be promoted to Sales Manager, and perform successfully”. Or “become a Vice President, recognized for strong leadership skills”. Instead, with the job landed, the pressure is off, and we put insufficient focus and planning on actually succeeding.

Sometimes we see a focus on, transition, but it is all about, for example, the first 90 days. Don’t get us wrong. Given all we know about how frequently job transitions fail (shockingly, 40-50%), this approach is pragmatic. But it can result in short-term thinking: the pressure to perform quickly sees us rely on what historically worked for us. And so we carry into the future our best, and our worst.


We see a new role as the opportunity to move from a simple "transition" to true "transformation". But it requires three steps:


  • putting the new opportunity in the context of your longer term goals and objectives. This is about crafting the new role, and how you approach it, so that you build the skills and experiences you need.

  • planning how you will transform your skills, behaviors, networks, reputation … The transformation you want is determined by your longer-term goals, but you need a mid-term plan to make it happen.

  • ensuring you start strong. We don’t ignore the benefits of getting up and running. What we encourage is aligning that strong start to where you want to go, or what you'll need to get there. If you don't, it's frankly a wasted opportunity.


Our challenge to Talent is to approach a new role as a pivotal moment in the bigger fabric of their career. Having achieved a milestone, it’s time to recalibrate against longer-term career goals, reset objectives, including identifying the need to course correct if necessary, while ensuring the type of strong start which will contribute to your path.


In the next three weeks, we’ll explore each of the phases that take a job change from "transition" to "transformation", by recalibrating and setting goals: long-term, mid-term and short-term. In that order.


A New Leaf? Start by Making Your New Role Work For You


Congratulations! You have landed your new role. This represents the beginning of the next phase of your career. And the end of a chapter. Your first step needs to be to re-assess your Career Plan.


We are big fans of having a written career plan. We favor a clear definition of success, and ideally options, different paths that might take you closer towards the career you want, on the terms you want it. A career plan maps out your “Long Game”, the phases with represent the growth in experience or skills you need to accumulate, to build towards your destination.


Each step you take, each phase you complete, requires you to recalibrate your plan. In taking this role, other roles may now be off the table. Or the new role could open up opportunities that you didn’t contemplate before. This role may be on your preferred path. Or perhaps it was less directly supporting your long-term career goal. In any case, you need to recalibrate.


So take out your career plan, and dedicate time to answering three questions:

  • Has anything changed my ultimate destination?

  • What paths have opened, or closed, because of this choice? and

  • What must I do (learn, change, know… ) as a result of this role that will prepare me for my next move?

These are all important questions. But it is the last of these that helps drive individual transformation.


Let’s be clear. This is not about “getting ahead of yourself” and thinking about next roles before you have delivered in this one. It is about keeping the long game top of mind. Don’t have the strategy chops you need to be a VP in the future? What do you need to learn in this role that can help you? Not seen as a team player? How will you, in this role, reinvent your reputation for building relationships?


The exercise we describe, getting clarity on what you want out of this newest experience, is a strategic one. Because it isn’t enough to know that you need to change and grow. Or even that a new role is a chance to do that. We, all of us, need a reason to do the hard work of personal change. Without a compelling reason, we’ll approach this role leveraging the same skills, behaviors and approaches we’ve always used. If the new role is to play it’s part delivering career success, as you define it, you need the motivation that comes from having a reason to change.


Confirming your long-term goals, identifying what the role needs to deliver to keep you on track, and recommitting to prepare yourself for the future you want, is your reason to transform. It ensures you enter the new role with clarity of intent.


Next Time


Anchored in your compelling reason to grow, you need to plan your transformation. In the absence of a plan, old habits may die hard. In the next post, we’ll look at how to use a job change to implement a transformation. It's about how to craft the new role in ways that help you develop the skills, create the reputation or build the network you need for success.


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