You may be thinking of transitioning to another field: From one job to another, to a different function, organization, or industry, from the military to the civilian sector or even from unemployment to a new job. Here are some key transition steps you should consider:
- Drop the jargon that may tag you as a newbie. It’s the quickest way to signal that you are not experienced in that field. Learn the jargon of the organization your interested in joining. Every industry has its own language. Find out what it is. The most difficult change is from the military to civilian sector so work especially hard to eliminate the buzzwords.
- Learn all about the issues of the new organization: Competitors, revenue and cost issues, shifting marketplace, and customer expectations. The more you know the better prepared.
- Different organizations have personalities all their own. Make sure yours is compatible. Are you moving from a more formal to an informal style? Are the keys to the business efficiency? Cost reduction? Accelerated growth? Acquisitions? How/where do you fit?
- What’s the unstated dress code? In the military, a uniform tells you a great deal about a person’s experiences. A suit does not. Ask your potential boss about unspoken practices.
- Some organizations are fairly clear about policy, practices or rules. Others may be nuanced and indirect. Find a role model who has made a successful transition and follow their path. Eliminate as many errors beforehand by understanding the culture.
- See if you can find out what the differences are between what is said and what’s done. Are there promises made but not kept. This is especially important if your future is dependent upon promises made to you. Will they put them in writing? If not, be careful.
- What’s the working environment and tone within the department? Competition between workers? Team orientation? Is there favoritism? Is the boss the problem?
- How are decisions made and communicated? Are there group discussions before a decision is made? Are decisions quick or prolonged? Are decisions communicated thoroughly so you know your role and expectations?
- How political is the organization? Internal promotions? The organization can be political (who you know), or more neutral (what you know) or apolitical (what are your results).
What to do during the transition?
- Operationally translate your past skills and experiences to the new job
- Transfer those skills, develop others and show a willingness to learn new skills
- Look for the lowest and highest performers. Figure out the differences between the two. That’s your window of opportunity. The higher standard becomes your goal.
- Focus on definitive transition steps, behavior, attitude changes, flexibility and adaptability. What do you have to do to become a raising star?
- Research the industry. Understand the short and long term strategies of the organization.
- Create your own 6-month strategy with your boss. Add benchmarks each month. What do you need to learn, prepare, experience, and accomplish? Define your expectations!
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