After 14 years at a university, I found myself with the perfect opportunity and excitedly joined a team in a new role at a new university. Week one is in the books. This is a reflection of my thoughts leading up to the first week and some tips to help others who may be navigating something similar have a great first week.
Chances are if you’re considering a new role. you’re not alone. Pew Research suggests that about 4 million Americans are resigning their positions for new opportunities each month.
For me, the new opportunity fit everything I was looking for in a new role and would allow me to utilize my recently-earned degree.
After more than a decade at one place, this is a big change to undo 14 years of muscle memory and institutional knowledge. Let that sink in.
What Made Me Nervous
The night before my first day I didn’t sleep much. My mind raced with all sorts of thoughts about what the new job and what the new people might be like. Here are a few initial thoughts I had:
- Were the people nice – I knew the team at my prior role. These folks were new to me. Would they be welcoming? Would they be helpful? Would they have the same excitement for marketing work? Thankfully, it didn’t take me long to answer this question. They are wonderful!
- Being prepared – This role is a promotion for me. While I had done the tasks that it entails, it is a new institution with new people and expectations. In being candid, I had a bit of imposter syndrome where I wondered if I was the right person for the job. (side note: I think many women in leadership suffer with it, which is one reason I want to talk about it. It’s natural to feel, but it shouldn’t define our experience.)
- University culture – This is one of the hardest things to get a sense of in advance, and I found myself worrying what it would be like. I asked key questions to try to understand the university experience during the interview process. However, until you are on a campus for more than one day, it’s hard to know. Thankfully, the university has a wonderful culture of engaging others and collaboration.
Key Strategies to Make Week One a Success
Chances are, you’re just as nervous as your team members. Here are a few strategies I used to help make the week more comfortable for everyone.
I created an about you document. It listed my core values, leadership philosophies, how I approached tasks, what I expected from the team, and a little bit about me personally. Multiple team members shared this was incredibly helpful to put them at ease before we even had a chance to visit.
I walked to most of my meetings. That helped me see campus, engage with students, and get a sense of the culture. To be honest, I got lost some as well. Thankfully, several kind people across campus helped me find my way, and I had great conversations with those who pointed me in the right direction.
As you learn your team and the culture, it’s natural to have ideas to help your team achieve their goals. However, it’s important to remember keep change & adjustments manageable. Two degrees a day. That’s the amount of change people handle without becoming overwhelmed.
Feel the Feels
I suspect you’ll have moments where you are overwhelmed, unsure, stressed, etc. Don’t hide behind it. Be honest with your team when you get the “how’s it going question.” It will help you be a human in their eyes and help them trust you. I know we want to be brave but feel those feels. It’s better for everyone.
After a very busy week one, I’m excited to see what week two brings. I’m coming back, and I even decorated my office over the weekend.
Want to talk more about taking on a new role, let’s chat. I’m happy to share additional thoughts.