Nerd Journey 030: Adapting to a New Team

Welcome to episode 30 of the Nerd Journey Podcast [@NerdJourney]! We’re John White (@vJourneyman) and Nick Korte (@NetworkNerd_), two VMware Solution Engineers who are hoping to bring you the IT career advice that we wish we’d been given earlier in our careers. In today’s episode we discuss adapting to a new team.

Original Recording Date: 03-19-2019

Topics – Adapting to a New Team

4:02 Joining a New Team at the Same Company

  • Your old position is going to be backfilled (taking a new opportunity)
    • Transition period
      • Who will carry your former responsibilities while someone new is hired?
        • This will likely be you for a time.
      • Who will train the new hire?
        • There’s excellent documentation to train the new hire, right?
        • Some training may fall to you (i.e. new person will need guidance), but hopefully some of this falls on the team and the manager.
        • Hopefully there was some cross training, but it is highly likely you will have tribal knowledge of the role and responsibilities that is not captured anywhere.
      • Hopefully you got a raise by making the move. See episode 28 for tips on asking for more money.
      • You may already know new teammates. Foster those relationships, but it is not appropriate to make an announcement about your role change. Let the new manager do that.
        • Hopefully you leveraged potential future teammates to get information about the manager and the role as part of the interview process.
      • How will communication of the change to external customers / internal customers be handled?
        • Someone has to be in charge of this transition.
        • John has transitioned on and off certain customers in his time at VMware.
        • A handoff meeting can be very helpful.
      • Who trains you in your new role, how will it be conducted, and when does it begin?
        • How do you fit this into new job responsibilities?
        • Hopefully you addressed this during the interview process for the new role. If the company’s training plan for this kind of change is not ideal, maybe it’s time to rethink joining this new internal organization / team.
    • Post-transition
      • At this point, you are working with the new team and assuming full responsibility in the new role.
      • Meet / built rapport with new teammates
        • Proximity will determine the way you interact (in-person, phone, video, e-mail, etc.).
        • Listen to John’s story about a great transition scenario and how he used that opportunity to learn as much as possible.
        • Reach out to other team members even if they do not reach out to you.
  • Your position is eliminated (still other opportunities within the same company
    • Try to check your attitude.
    • Be logical, and prepare for every scenario (employment elsewhere is possible).
    • Be careful in the way you communicate the situation to co-workers / former teammates (not a grip session).
    • Leverage all the positive energy you can muster, and leverage connections to help you toward a new position (guidance, recommendations, etc.).

23:18 Joining a New Company

  • During the interview process
    • Early / late exposure to future teammates, possibly not at all depending on the size of organization and what the process involves
    • If you are in the driver’s seat (several offers, already have a job, not desperate to say yes, etc.) and no part of the process has involved talking with teammates, you should ask for it. Use this time to understand team culture and how the manager operates.
      • If you ask for it and don’t get it, what is the reason why?
  • After you start
    • Again, proximity will affect contact method, frequency of interaction to some extent
    • It’s reasonable to ask to get to know teammates. You’re not asking to be friends but rather asking to be cordial.
    • Ask others for help – processes, procedures, relationships, etc.
      • This is definitely applicable for the scenario of joining a new team at an existing company too.
    • Ask who teammates interact with the most inside and outside the organization.
    • How does your training begin?
      • Do you have a dedicated mentor or a mix of training from various sources?

31:23 Manager’s Perspective of Being Promoted

  • The scenario we’re considering here is a front line manager who has built a team from the ground up (hired everyone) and is given the opportunity to take a senior manager role (i.e. to become a manager of managers). This requires hiring a new front line manager for the team, managing a new team, and much more.
  • Challenges in this scenario:
    • Leaving the team you built in someone else’s care can be a challenging.
    • Interactions with the old team have to be different to give the new front line manager a chance to build rapport with the team.
      • Backing off from the former team members can be challenging.
      • Don’t override the new front line manager’s authority by giving skip level reports tasks.
      • Redirect skip level reports to the new front line manager.
    • The senior manager cannot show favoritism to the new front line manager for fear of upsetting the culture of the new team he / she is managing.
    • This thought exercise requires some empathy for the manager. We don’t often put ourselves in their shoes to attempt to understand their experiences.
    • A possible future topic for us would be to focus on the individual contributor who was promoted to people manager.
    • The senior manager likely has an all new team of peers, and it may feel like a completely different job.
    • This is an interesting chance to set the cultural expectations. This plays into tactical translation of organizational goals. Listen to last week’s episode for more on that.
    • Does a manager who was promoted from individual contributor at the same company have an advantage over someone from the outside who was not?
    • This segment came from a conversation Nick had with a manager who had this experience.
  • John’s suggestion – blow up the idea of people living through a reduction of force for a future podcast.

Contact us if you need help on the journey.

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