Top Performance in a New Position: How to Quickly Shift into Overdrive

top performanceBy Dana Gillis, Executive Coach — After years of hard work, lots of effort and perhaps a little luck, you were just awarded that long sought-after promotion. Congratulations! A feeling of accomplishment came with the news of your promotion. However, a secondary sensation is likely nagging at you. It’s a sense of anxiety about what lies ahead. Specifically, you may have doubts about being able to quickly get to a level of top performance in your new position.

Before the promotion, you were the master of your domain and the subject matter expert. You were the resource your colleagues turned to for answers to their most burning inquiries. Overnight, you’ve become the “new gal/new guy.” Along with your new status comes excitement, anxiety, and uncertainty. How do you get to your “fifth gear” — that place of professional mastery and top performance?

The Road to Top Performance

First Gear

First, accept and embrace the fact that the first weeks in your new position will be unsettling. New names, faces, procedures, acronyms — a new way of doing things. All that “newness” is a breeding ground for anxiety, even among the most confident among us. As you assimilate into your new role as a leader, learning the business and learning the culture of the business should be a major focus of your time. As a new member of your team, commit to being the “new guy/new lady” for as short a period as possible. The people who work for you are counting on you to make the transition to your new position as quickly as you can.

Second Gear

Accept that your new job is not your old role! Personal adjustments should be expected and will be required to navigate your new position successfully. Keep in mind that the transition will take time and won’t happen overnight.  Take the time to get acclimated to a whole host of emotions that you might not have anticipated. Don’t be afraid to reach out and talk to people who’ve been where you are. They might provide you with tips to avoid pitfalls that could sabotage your path to top performance and future success.

Third Gear

Next, remember to pace yourself for the marathon over the sprint. Unfavorable conditions may have greeted you in your new position. They didn’t happen overnight. Therefore, you need a studied approach and a strategic plan to successfully move forward. You don’t have to “make your mark” in a day. Be deliberate. Be decisive in plotting a way ahead in the new job.

Fourth Gear

Remember to live in the moment. As the demands of the new position increase, nostalgia will surely pull on you to recall “the good ol’ days.” However, if those days were so good, why did you choose to pursue a new path? Embrace the learning and growth that come from the lack of equilibrium you are sure to feel as you take over your new responsibilities.

Fifth Gear and Top Performance 

Finally, once you’ve learned the ropes of your new position, you have a decision to make. Do you want to be a steward of the job you’ve acquired or do you want to be a respected leader? Likely, you will find the answer to that question in the eyes of those who look to you for inspiration and direction. The time it takes for you to transition from “new gal/new guy” to master and visionary will determine the legacy you leave in your newly inherited role.

Note: A robust hiring and onboarding process significantly increases the likelihood that an organization has the right people in the right roles. These new leaders are then able to quickly shift into top performance.