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Jacqui McGill AO

Non Executive Director

Starting a New Role?

Following on from my last Blog where I provided some tips for leaders who were preparing to welcome new starters. This month’s blog has some tips for the new starters.   After all success requires both parties to be thoughtful and engaged in making the transition go smoothly.

  • Understand your mandate.  Spend time before starting the role considering what you have been brought into to do. 
    • Were you recruited to the position to turn performance around?
    • Build on current success?
    • Or Is it a new team or business? 

It is critical to have this clarity as it will guide how you plan and navigate your first few weeks.

  • Preparation is the key, good preparation starts when applying for the role and through the interview process but it should continue once you have been successful.  Take the time to build your knowledge of the industry, the organisation and the team.  Apply this knowledge to establishing a list of questions that will help you fill in the gaps.  
  • Allocate time to meet internal and external stakeholders it is important to build these contacts in your first few weeks.
  • Know yourself.  Understand your derailers (these are your behavioural tendencies when under stress) awareness of these is key to ensuring you perform at your best. Reflect on how you behave when you are nervous, uncertain or lacking in confidence.  Do you tend to micro manage? Or are you overly critical? Or indecisive? You need to understand your potential derailers and then put in place strategies to reflect and correct as required.   
  • Plan how you will get to know the culture of your organisation and team.  If you are moving within an organisation you will likely already know much of this, but it will important not to assume.  If you are joining a new organisation, take the time to reflect on what you see and hear to quickly get a view on the culture.   In addition, you will need to understand your team culture as well.   Key observations areas are;
    • Meeting culture
    • Decision making
    • What gets celebrated and recognised
    • How people speak to each other and refer to others outside of the team
    • Systems and processes (or how things get done)

Take the time to note your observations, this will provide you a great point of reflection a few months in – your early observations are useful in guiding your leadership.

  • Set up regular meetings with your leader to check in and engage with them in your first few weeks.
    • Honour their time by preparing for these sessions well – send a list of discussion points prior and keep sessions brief.
    • Ask for feedback, it is important early on to provide your leader with the opportunity to assist you in being successful.
  • Take the time for the informal catch ups.  Many people get so engrossed with their formal interactions they skip the coffee breaks or informal chats.  This is time well spent informal interactions are great way to smooth the transition into a new workplace. 

For further ideas take a look at The First 90 days by Michael Watkins, it is my go to book for any new role.  Good luck!



MBA, BSc (Extractive Metallurgy)

DAdel (Honoris Causa), GAICD

Adelaide, South Australia



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