Making a Smart Start

By: Ken Keis

"...the root causes of transition failure always lie in a pernicious interaction between the situation, with its opportunities and pitfalls, and the individual, with his or her strengths and vulnerabilities."
Michael Watkins, The First 90 Days: Critical Success Factors for New Leaders at All Levels

Making a SMART Start

Guest Author: Dr. Brian J. Fraser

First impressions matter, especially when you are starting a new job.

How well you show up in your new position will depend on how carefully you consider your aspirations, your assumptions, your anxieties, and your actions as you move into that new job.

How you show up during your first 6 months will have a profound effect on how well you establish your credibility as a foundation for personal and organizational success.

As reported in Credibility, in research with over 80,000 employees, Barry Z. Posner and James S. Kouzes found that credibility rests on four cornerstones. People trust and work best with leaders who are honest, foresighted, inspirational, and competent.

Colleagues are most engaged when leaders:
- are honest about themselves and the current situation;
- are realistically optimistic about future opportunities;
- are respectful of the passion and the talent their team bring to the task; and
- have the hard and soft skills to do their work through other people.

Giving serious attention to the credibility you are creating as you start a new job will pay big dividends in employee engagement, team productivity, organizational results, and personal satisfaction. Making a SMART start will energize your own engagement and make a positive impact on the people with and for whom you work.

Finding a seasoned and sage thinking partner to coach you through those first 6 months will generate an invaluable return on investment.

SMART, in this case, is an acronym for the key elements in making a credible beginning in your new job.

- Soulfully
This involves taking the time to get to know yourself afresh, re-examining what matters most to you and what you now do best. It means touching base anew with the integrating centre of your true self -- your core identity. Itís the process of confirming the "voice" you have to contribute.
It also means getting in touch with your real needs so you can meet them in appropriate ways.

- Mindfully
This involves recognizing you are in a new situation -- youíve never done this before in this organization, so you will benefit greatly from remaining curious and open-minded. You will do well to establish a specific learning agenda to match your strengths and passions to the realities of this organization.
Being mindful in this situation means being open to seeing things differently and to figuring out the best ways to bring your true self to the new responsibilities.

- Astutely
This has to do with knowing your environment well. It involves knowing the stage your organization has reached in its life cycle. You will want to discover the formal and informal systems of influence and power.
You will do well to discover the organizationís strengths so you can build on them.

- Responsibly
This is about knowing what to do and what not to do. Itís about functioning well in the circumstances -- not overfunctioning or underfunctioning. One temptation, especially in new situations fraught with anxiety, is to take on too much too soon. That can result in frustration and you might begin to see yourself as a victim caught in a vicious cycle of overwork and underappreciation.
Negotiating clear and realistic expectations is important. Choosing the most highly leveraged initiatives to build teamwork and credibility is crucial.

- Trustingly
This is about having confidence in your capacity to show up in a way that creates success for both you and the organization. It means being the change you want to see. If you can learn to trust in the calling in the core of your soul, that confidence will become infectious; it also will help nurture trusting relationships with those through whom you do your work.
And it involves continuing to learn -- in the spirit of your first 6 months.

Here are the questions to ask yourself as you seek to make a SMART start:
- Do you know yourself well enough to start soulfully?
- Do you have enough curiosity about your new situation to start mindfully?
- Do you know your environment well enough to start astutely?
- Do you know your tasks well enough to start responsibly?
- Do you know you can put it all together and start trustingly?

Dr. Brian J. Fraser is a Vancouver-based professional speaker, seminar leader, and executive coach. He is the Lead Provocateur of Jazzthink Speaking and Seminars Dr. Fraser has been a CRG Associate since 2003.

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Ken Keis, MBA, CPC, is an internationally known author, speaker, and consultant. He is President and CEO of CRG Consulting Resource Group International, Inc., Many professionals herald CRG as the Number One global resource center for Personal and Professional Development.

For information on CRG Resources, please visit

For information on Kenís Training and Speaking Programs, please visit

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