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Carving Your Pathway to a Successful Career Transition

Mountain path

Making a career transition

A career transition is a greatly significant period of change in a person’s life. While this is generally very well acknowledged, it is often underestimated. A job change presents a complex juxtaposition of positive and negative emotions, impacting all areas of our wellbeing: cognitively, behaviourally, emotionally and more. They are exciting times presenting new ventures and opportunities. A promotion can mean an opportunity to have a significant impact on workplace growth yet, it also demands an immediate and novel sense of decisiveness and seniority. This creates a rapid change of mindset, often requiring a period of adjustment. Yet, it is reported those first 90 days in a new role can predict a person’s future success or failure in a new position.

It is abundantly clear then, that we must equip ourselves with an intentional plan to ensure not only a successful start but successful longevity.


What does the research say?

Transitions, whether into senior positions or a company change, are a time of navigating the unknown. Determining what type of leader you want to become, establishing allied relationships or simply securing a respected place in a new company are all rather trying tasks. For example, diving in too quickly and becoming overly authoritative could cause dubious, lasting impressions with new colleagues. So, how do you strike the correct balance between an unwanted evolution and an effective transformation?

Interestingly, research suggests there is a pathway of steps you can take to support a positive transition. As Michael D. Watkins (2013) suggests, your goal in every transition should be to reach a break-even point. This being the point where your personal contributions equate your consumptions from a new company or role. By implementing the stages outlined below, and utilising the steps within each, you can reduce the time it takes to achieve your break-even point, ensure a successful transition and positive future prospects.


A phased approach

Across subsequent articles, we will explore the detailed steps within each stage of transitional development. Phase 1, ‘prepare & learn’ will explore how to prioritise new knowledge as well as ways to diagnose the current cultural and strategic climate. Next, we will focus on the best methods to ‘establish relationships’ with both senior and junior colleagues, forming an effective support network. Phase 3, ‘maintain balance’ will look at ways of perpetuating the authority and the choices you have made up to this point. Finally, we will look at ‘teach and inspire’, identifying how sharing with and developing others can also be the key to accelerating towards that break-even point.

By thinking mindfully about these key phases and their application to your own situation, you can hopefully reduce time taken to achieve your own equilibrium and improve gratification in what can often be a rather tumultuous period.




Michael D Watkins (2013) – The First 90 Days, Harvard Business Review Press

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