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  • Dawn S. Kirk

“Learn From What I Didn’t Know Then-How to Handle Professional Transition”

The one thing that is consistent in the world is change, and the workplace is no exception. Professional transitions are commonplace, and your ability to adapt and perform is critical to your success. Whether you are joining a new organization, just recently promoted, or took a lateral position, the first 90-120 days are critical to your success in this role and within the organization. As a result, this requires an onboarding transition plan. Instead of waiting on the organization to provide you a plan, I highly recommend you develop your onboarding strategy and present it to your leader for feedback and alignment. During your meeting with your leader, it is imperative that you gain a clear understanding of:

1.) Current State

2.) Future Expectations

3.) How your success will be measured

If you ask the right questions at the beginning, it can provide clarity on the strategy to help you refine your onboarding plan, reduce stress, and accelerate your impact on the business.

The biggest mistake people make is thinking that onboarding starts the day you start the job, or that onboarding is not necessary because of experience or tenure with the company. Wrong! Onboarding should start the day you're offered the job, and onboarding is always necessary. You can't do this effectively if you don't have the right information and plan.

Unfortunately, I learned this the hard way. I had just been promoted to a newly created director role in a new market after 13 years with the organization. I showed up day 1, expecting this nice organized training plan, and that didn't happen.

I underestimated the importance of culture, which was completely different than my previous market because I didn't understand the current state of business, expectations of future performance, or how my success would be measured. Why? I didn’t have a plan nor had given it any thought because I took a business as usual approach. I was completely lost and had no idea what to do next. To make matters worse, it was a turn around situation, and there were expectations to drive change quickly. As a result, it took me too long to ramp up and to make an impact. As you can imagine, this was a challenging experience, and one I would never repeat. Onboarding plans became a part of all of my transitions going forward, and as a leader, I provided initial plans to all of my direct reports and held them accountable to doing the same. If you want to develop an onboarding strategy, start thinking about:

1.) People - Who are my key stakeholders up, down, and across

the organization? What are the strengths and opportunities

individually and organizationally?

2.) Process - How does work get done? What is the infrastructure?

3.) Culture - What are the values/norms of this department/

organization? What is the current situation of the team/

organization? How are decisions made?

Developing an onboarding plan demonstrates that you are self-aware, your willingness to learn, and your desire to collaborate to drive business and organizational results. Creating a plan can help you to establish benchmarks and set yourself up for success by having a better understanding of what to expect. By having clarity and understanding, it can also position you to better connect with the organization. People, Process, and Culture are the key components of an effective onboarding strategy. I have held 15 different roles in 26 years and would like to support your efforts of developing an onboarding strategy. Book your complimentary consultation at

I look forward to helping you set yourself and your team up for success!

-Dawn S. Kirk

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