Transitioning to a New Role

Many of us go to work every day, and things are relatively constant.  But occasionally, a curveball gets thrown our way.  For me, the curveball came when I was asked to step into a new role.

We all wear many hats during our careers.  But what happens when you are asked to put on a hat you’ve never really considered?  You need to transition into a role that isn’t in your area of expertise and you need to do it quickly.

Now, I have done similar work in the past … the distant past.  However, that was long ago and far away (ok, really, just up the road).  Things have changed a lot since then and much of the process has changed significantly.

Suffice it to say, while I was gratified and humbled to have this responsibility and opportunity provided to me, I was also filled with some trepidation.

Though not my current area of expertise, I am lucky to have many friends and acquaintances who have worked or do work in this function, so I started asking questions.  And I paid attention to the answers.

For the most part, the advice I received centered around learning what I needed to know to accomplish the new tasks before me.  However, along the way, I’ve found that information overload is a real thing.  I’ve had to figure out a way to learn as much as I could about what I need to complete a task, then move on to the next thing.

I’ve been taking as many free webinars as I can find that are relevant.  And, as I am presented with a new task or situation for which I don’t have functional knowledge, I start searching and asking more questions.  As I figure out the answers, I document the process so when I have to go back to it (and we all know I’ll have to go back to it again), I know how to complete the task without re-inventing the wheel.

I’m not a master at this position, by anyone’s measure, but the level of anxiety has dropped significantly over the last few months.  I no longer have a mini heart-stopping moment when anyone asks me a question.

As I learn more and more about the function and process relevant to my new position, my comfort level continues to grow.  I’ll continue to take webinars and download resources to improve my knowledge.  I’ll continue to ask questions of those that have been doing this longer than I have.  I’ll continue to juggle the many hats, and hopefully, in the not too distant future, those hats will become so comfortable, I’ll forget I’m wearing them.

So how do you prepare yourself to wear a new hat?  Do you chat with colleagues, search the internet, read books or “fake it till you make it”?

By Sherry Arlt | People Science Processor


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