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Focus On People Over Tasks To Give Your New Role A Flying Start


by Liesbeth van der Linden, owner of GLTD Ltd and author of “Connect, Inspire, Grow: The Executive’s Framework for the First 100 Days

Whether you’re promoted to a new role or just hired at a new company, you want to make the best possible start to your new job. What you do in the first 100 days in your new role will lay the foundation for your success in meeting your goals and KPIs.

Any business we do is rooted in relationships. Our work on a project, in teams, as freelancers always boils down to the people involved, what they bring to the table, and how well we collaborate with them. Building trusting relationships is the most important thing we need to work on if we want to excel in our roles and succeed in our assignments.

It’s essential that you initially focus on people over tasks. As you prepare for your first meetings, start by identifying who you need to connect with during the first few weeks of your assignment. You can move around the company meeting and getting to know people, but you want to take an efficient approach. It’s, therefore, crucial to zero in on the specific people you need to build relationships with in order to accomplish your mission.

Suppose you’re working in a larger company. In that case, you’ll likely be offered an onboarding program typically designed to meet with people in the organization and become familiar with the company’s policies and protocols. The HR department or your manager will schedule meetings for you with managers, senior leaders, peers, and team members to have conversations that can give you a fuller perspective. The biggest mistake I see people make during their onboarding is that they go too passively from meeting to meeting and don’t get the most out of these conversations.

Denise, a friend, relayed to me how important it is to meet with the right people at the beginning of a new assignment. When she first arrived in her new position at an international bank, she made the mistake of trying to connect with as many people as possible rather than the specific people she needed to work with. She wasn’t entirely clear on what she needed to accomplish her goals and ended up wasting a lot of time talking with people who weren’t relevant to her project. This slowed her down in ways she later regretted, but she learned an important lesson about consciously preparing those initial conversations in the future.

Who do you need to connect with when starting your new role?

To quickly build the right connections, I recommend that you focus on creating your new network based on the capabilities and knowledge of people who will help you achieve the goals of your assignment. Seek out the people who have what you need. Figure out exactly how they can help you. The people you form your network with should fill in the answers to these ‘who’ questions.

  • Who has the know-how I need?
  • Who will be impacted by the work I’ll be doing?
  • Who are the main influencers of my project?
  • Who are the other experts that I need to involve?
  • Who else can help move my project forward?
  • Who has the power to pull my project back?
  • Who can I go to for support?

You know your expertise, but also be honest and clear about where the gaps are. Who can supplement that knowledge? By getting those answers early on, you’ll spend your time more efficiently and be able to focus on building relationships with the people who have the knowledge, skills, and capabilities you need to achieve your goals faster.

By being more intentional and proactive in building relationships with the people who can help you in your role, you are laying the foundation of trust in these first vital weeks. But trust is never built immediately. You’ll have to meet with people regularly to create more solid bonds. Over the course of future meetings, conversations, and encounters, trust will grow as you continue to show genuine curiosity and focus on getting to know the other person better and listening to how you can help them in their role. When trust is there, they will be open and willing to return the favor and help you achieve your goals.


Liesbeth van der Linden

Liesbeth van der Linden is the owner of leadership coaching company GLTD Ltd. An expert in helping high-level leaders achieve thriving careers, Liesbeth has coached leaders in over 25 countries and is credited for creating insights that changed their minds for good and expanded them as leaders so they could make a real impact. She is author of “Connect, Inspire, Grow: The Executive’s Framework for the First 100 Days“.