In my career I have: Moved 14 times, had 7 jobs in different businesses, consulted with15 organizations, lived in 7 states (some twice); taught junior high school, college, MBA’s; was an executive in a non-profit; went from a staff specialist in a for-profit company to Manager, Director, then Vice President of 2 companies, and President of my own consulting firm.
I know a lot about managing transitions. My wife is an expert when it comes to selling houses, finding schools, dentists, doctors, new neighbors, car registrations and all the home-related chores, but that’s another story.
What did I learn? Here are some insights:
BUSINESS: Always leave on the best terms possible. Careers and relationships seem to intertwine in unexpected ways. You never know who will need whom over time. Always ask for a copy of your personnel file so you know what’s in there. You never know how it might change. Upon entering a new organization, always, and I mean always do three things: First, make sure your expectations and your boss’s expectations are absolutely compatible and consistent. Mismatched goals and expectations can mean disaster. Second, do a “Needs Analysis” in a new position. Survey, interview or talk to your staff individually, your internal client, peers, bosses to make sure their needs are understood and expectations are defined. It may determine your ultimate success: Whom you can and cannot depend upon for support and where the major issues will come from. Third, base line your key functional measurements so when you leave you can quantify the results you achieved in tangible terms.
RELATIONSHIPS: Your family relationships will be tested, especially with your spouse. Make sure you make time to relax and talk things through with each family member. But mostly listen.
If your family situation isn’t secure, most everything else will be off balance. One surprise I found was that strong relationships I thought I had with co-workers, bosses and subordinates were strictly job related. With some it only extended to references and what I could do for them: A number of disappointments there. Good off-the-job relationships on the other hand lasted far longer.
PERSONAL: I grew up in a limited opportunity environment. Various people saw the potential in me that I didn’t see, and they either encouraged or introduced me to a new world of opportunity. If not for them, I would be in a different place in life. I spent my first few years in teaching and community service work, and then gravitated to business as a natural expansion of both my passion to achieve success and my expanding capabilities. Once I understood my potential, I moved very quickly with career jumps and gravitated to higher and higher positions, hence the number of relocations. The reason I could achieve my career goals was the understanding and support of those who believed in me.
My advice to anyone: Make sure those around you are in synch with your direction and goals.
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