Tuesday, August 16, 2016

“Soap bubble” - Transition to a new role

In the corporate environment, change of job either by joining a new organization or job rotations is important and inevitable.  These changes (new person in a new role) helps the individual to learn / contribute in the organization and also gives a fresh perspective to the function.

My questions to the hiring manger are, when we get a new person to the new role (internal or external hire),
-          - are we expecting the person jump start and produce results ?
-          - are we giving her enough time to settle down ?
-          - are we allocating resources in educating about the org / role ?
-          - do we have sufficient self-learning material?

I    I feel as a hiring manager we need to spend quality time with the “new hire” on induction, not just for the job role, also about the group, organization, people, culture, processes, decisions, goals, etc.   I often see Managers are in a rush to deploy the person into the role (billable project or otherwise) and expect the person to produce value (results) quickly and allow a natural path of long learning cycle about the rest of the organization.

I am sharing my experience when I joined this organization little more than three years ago.   I was joining this company after a long stint of 22 years in my previous organization;  I had some butterflies in my stomach.   I also knew in the new role, I will be inducting lot of leaders and hence decided to watch my transition bit more granular for the first 90 days.

First, I said to myself ; in my first 90 days, I will take over from the incumbent like a “soap bubble” and I will ensure “the bubble” does not break.  I also said, I will neither attempt to re-size nor reshape the bubble.  The meaning here is, will understand the details on its own merits; however set aside the changes / recommendations post 90 days.

Second, I did jot down all my interactions with the colleagues and categorized them as “value consumed” or “value delivered”.    If I had learnt / understood something from someone, I have categorized those interactions as “value consumed” and given a numerical value of “minus 1” and if have I have contributed something significant in the conversation, solutions, etc, categorized those as “value delivered” and given a numerical value of “plus 1”.   At the end of each day, computed the cumulative net value delivered to the organization and plotted a graph.   As expected the net value was –ve initially and more –ve later, less –ve over a period of time, break-even and grew +ve thereafter.    Interestingly,  it took about seven weeks for a break-even in my case.

Third, I have broken down the net value further by functions (ex: Delivery, pre-sales, Talent acquisition, etc).  The observation here is, some of the function had a more +ve net value and some of had more –ve net value at the end of 90 days.  I am not advocating more positive is good or more negative is bad.    The point, I am driving is depends on the role we are hiring the person, if we can steer the induction we may get better results.  

Fourth, I have also recorded the people who have spent time with me in my transition and group them as top management, Sr management (mostly peers in my case), team, self-reading, etc.  In my first 90 days, about 137 hours are spent on me in various forms of interactions.  Interestingly, self-reading was on the lower side.  The learning I had on this is, when we hire new people, it is important to spend time with in educating about the organization (beyond the job role)  and these interactions are not one way, it has to be on push-pull mode, meaning the new employee has to pull people into the conversations. 

Fifth, I had jotted down my recommendations on what we need to do better; more from an “outside-in” perspective and did present this to my mangers after about 120 days of joining the organization. My managers not only appreciated those views, also given me green signal to implement some of those and I am glad to say more the three-fourths of these ideas are implemented.

My transition has given me learning on hiring and inducting people in new roles, the key ones are

1      1) Allow new hire to understand the organization beyond the job role (don’t break the soap bubble).
2      2) Focus the transition on the key areas beyond the job role as well.
3      3) Allocate time and resources for transition (including the hiring manger’s time).
4     4) Motivate the person to get fresh perspective (outside-in) in the early days, before s/he get used the organization.    Recognize good ideas and explore implementation.
5     5) Create self-reading material.

Thank you for reading this, looking forward for your comments.


  1. Durai sir.... excellent blog and usefull information. This is a learning and helps in organizing self for multiple dimensions for the topic/requirements of business and our routines in life. This adds to my learning points or values :)

  2. Not a surprise thing from you Durai, you are as meticulous and visionary as you were and seldom people go to this extreme in doing such things 'so perfectly', which otherwise is a routine and often most difficult thing in anybody's career. Happy that I know you :)

  3. Wonderful blog Durai. Never miss to read from you as I always learn one or more everytime.
    Thank you so much for sharing this.

  4. Wow! Good insight on how to groom a new hire.

  5. Wow! Good insight on how to groom a new hire.

  6. Durai - this is a great blog with useful insights. In the current era of technological automation, the relevant people values would only be the softer and qualitative aspects and not their technical skills or expertise. Organizations need to invest time to get the best out of their people in these areas, and this blog is a good starting read in this direction.

  7. Very good analysis and really more valuable inputs. Moreover, it is thought of getting into this mode in a planned way as you did is exemplary. And, it is no surprise to me because is is Durai!
    Thank you for the insights!


  8. Nice article and interesting data points, boss. You devised a method to quantify learnings, analyze the data and share learning. Thank you for the learning opportunity.


  9. Well written...Interesting to see the data(Can see the engineer in you:)), pictures the parallel. In HR terms we call it 'holding the space' for some one...Gently just like your soap bubble...Thank you for the meticulous work and the intention to share

  10. Well written...Interesting to see the data(Can see the engineer in you:)), pictures the parallel. In HR terms we call it 'holding the space' for some one...Gently just like your soap bubble...Thank you for the meticulous work and the intention to share