Got the new job, can’t quite figure it out

An acquaintance recently started a new job–a big one, large prestigious MNC, very good package (expat perks), regional purview.

He was hired within 2-3 weeks, unusually quick, in my experience (I was a bystander, not involved). One meeting in Asia, a couple of telecons with global HQ, flew out to meet everyone, the contract was waiting to be signed–and sign he did. Gave notice within a short time and jumped right in.

Sounds pretty darned good, no?

Here are his challenges with the new job (as there always are):

  • New industry, new company and corporate culture, new staff to manage, new industry vocabulary to learn, and little time to do so.
  • New function–the role never existed in Asia before, he’s a new employee with a job that has no history, and must explain to other long-timers already doing similar work how he can truly add value for them.
  • His team used to report to global HQ, but now report to him–the new regional guy with no industry experience.
  • A loosely dotted line to a regional president who is skeptical of the need for such a role.
  • [/list]

    Any of this sound familiar? Who did what wrong? Or is nothing wrong, and it all appears as the norm?

    The company hired quickly, mostly to show how fast they could efficiently turn around a new hire (and not pay a search fee, no doubt..).

    No due diligence done, no background or reference checks, no assessments, nor any on-boarding. He was dropped off the deep-end, and still swimming like mad to keep his head above water.

    Quick decisions can be good (as opposed to searches that grind on ad infinitum) but too quick is shooting from the hip, both for the employee and employer, and it can take a much longer time to acclimate.

    He may end up smiling in the end–he’s resourceful, knows how to build alliances and knows what he has to do to succeed. But it’s tricky with skepticism both above and below, trying to learn new industry lingo, proving oneself with very little counsel or guidance. Now, you could reply with “Yeah, but senior people shouldn’t need to be hand-held.” Not true. Maybe not coddled, but they should be given a briefing book of some sort at the outset to see past, present and future, especially if it’s a senior role.

    I’d wager he won’t stay long. If he goes, the company may just shutter the position or promote a lower level person, and grumble that he ‘never got it anyhow.’

    Companies often do not think through what a [new] role is supposed to achieve. The jobs is ill-defined, nor measured to last. For most new C-level hires, it is 70% political awareness, alliances and behaviour–30% of the job is functional. The higher up you go, the more you are judged by behaviour, not hours worked.

    If you can’t figure out the job, you’re either in over your head, you jumped too fast, or you’re in a nightmarish organisation–or all of the above. It happens.

    And if it does, get help to see how to salvage it. Most times it can be remedied. Many executives ironically think what succeeded at the last place will work at the new place. Half the time they’re wrong.

    When you’re confused in the new job, get a coach, get some help; it’s always close by. But don’t deny the problem by working harder and hoping it will go away.

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