Talking About Your New Role


It is common that people will move along a career path in an organization. This takes place when a promotion is granted, a lateral move occurs or a new title is bestowed.  When this happens, the dance steps change for all interdependent parties, and people can experience resistance from peers and subordinates alike. Sometimes people just don’t know how to interact with you in your new position, and you may feel as though you have a foot in more than one reality.

For those of you who are in new roles (job descriptions) and/or transitioning into new roles, let me offer you a coaching tip – knowing this will need to be adapted to the uniqueness of your situations.  It doesn’t “fix” people’s uncertainty, but this approach may give you a clear process to communicate what is going on.

Tool Name: ADKAR

(Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability, Reinforcement)

Introduced by: Prosci (independent research company); 1998

  1. Help people become AWARE of the need to change and the need for the change.

If someone is resistant to you, sit down and say something like, “My role is changing, and this might be a good time to talk about why this is happening and why this needs to happen.  Here’s what is good about this change…., here are some of the challenges with this change…, and here’s what I think we will experience once the change has fully taken place…

“What questions, concerns or observations can you offer me about our work together right now? I want to make sure we have open communication throughout this change period.”

2. Create the DESIRE to participate and support the change.

Here you want to explain the upsides to the change for the employee and for the organization.  (Don’t forget to help people see the BIG picture.) All people want to know, “What’s in it for ME!?”  If you’re able, help them see any benefits that might be coming their way.

3. Give people the KNOWLEDGE of how to change (and what the change looks like).

“In my new role, and as I transition to my new role, here is how our work relationship might be impacted…  Here’s how we can work together in a new way… Here’s what I need from you… What do you need from me?”

4. Make sure people are ABLE to implement the change on a day-by-day basis.

“As we redesign our work relationship, are there any areas of uncertainty that you want to discuss with me?  Are you clear and comfortable with expectations? Do you have what you need? If not, let me understand what might help.”

5. REINFORCE the change to keep it in place.

If you need to go back and revisit this conversation one, two, or three times, don’t get discouraged.  It takes people a while to make adjustments. Over communicate while the transition is going on, and check in frequently to see if the change process is taking hold.

You may find that some people will never be comfortable with the new  arrangement. Try not to let their resistance impact your future success.

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