By Paul Flaharty, executive director of the marketing and creative practice at global talent solutions firm Robert Half, which connects professionals with companies hiring in marketing, creative, digital, advertising and public relations. His primary responsibility is to develop and oversee the growth strategy for the company’s marketing and creative contract talent solutions teams across the United States. Paul began his career with Robert Half in New York City in 2005. After seven years of building successful operations in the tri-state area, he relocated to Los Angeles. Paul has held several leadership positions, including division director, regional vice president and district director. He most recently oversaw operations throughout Southern California and the San Francisco Bay Area for the company’s technology and marketing and creative practices. Paul is a spokesperson for Robert Half and frequently quoted expert on various hiring trends and workplace topics. A graduate of Cornell University, Paul is now based in Los Angeles and is proud to be raising two incredible children.
The environment is the same, but the challenges are new. Be it via promotion or a lateral move, starting a new role at a company you’ve worked with for some time is exciting — but assuming fresh responsibilities in a familiar setting also brings unique concerns.
Should you aim to hit the ground running or ease yourself in gently? What should you do when your former team asks for help? What’s the right approach when assuming a leadership position?
I’ve had several opportunities to ponder these questions during my career journey at Robert Half — an exciting ride that’s taken me through several roles, leading to my current position as Executive Director of our marketing and creative practice. As part of this transition, I’d like to introduce myself to you. I’ve worked in recruiting for more than 18 years, and 13 years in the creative field specifically. I’m thrilled to be taking on this new role, which includes sharing job search, career and management advice and trends with you.
Much of what I’ve learned through my career moves at Robert Half applies to anyone hoping to ace their internal transfer, be it a move into a new department or starting a managerial position. Whether you’re shifting from graphic designer to 3D modeler or stepping into the shoes of the marketing director, a few simple steps can help you nail your new duties.
Start Your Onboarding Early
Many creative professionals work best when they can focus their mental energy on the job at hand. If the first few days in your new role feature nothing but onboarding and orientation, that’s not likely to happen.
With an internal transfer, you can lay some groundwork. Use your institutional knowledge and contacts in HR to kick off onboarding from the moment you accept the new job or even ahead of your first day in the position. Be proactive about requesting access to reading materials that will help you better understand your new role and team. Talk to your new manager and your firm’s IT support about getting a head start on any software or security training you might need. This is particularly important in the age of remote and hybrid working, when individual teams are more likely to diverge from centralized practices.
Nail Down Transition Arrangements
Your best laid plans for starting a new role can quickly unravel if you spend the first two weeks tying up loose ends from your previous position. It helps to set some ground rules for your transition period so that your former and future colleagues know what to expect.
If your new manager is happy for you to continue supporting your old colleagues for a couple weeks, communicate this to your former team in writing. Include instructions on how and when they should contact you. Dealing with carryover duties can feel like a chore, but it also gives you the chance to burnish your team-player credentials.
Build New Relationships (While Maintaining Current Ones)
Pre-pandemic, getting acquainted with new colleagues was something that happened organically. You’d shake hands and introduce yourself on your first day, then gradually build working relationships through a mix of professional collaborations and social interactions.
In the new normal of hybrid and remote working, integrating yourself into the team may require a more targeted approach — and take a little more time and effort. Instead of blasting out chat messages and setting up video calls with everyone in the group, identify who you’ll be collaborating with most closely and reach out to them first. If your new unit has a Microsoft Teams or Slack channel, or other messaging platform, spend some time there to get a sense of the group’s work and communication styles.
While you’re doing this, don’t forget about your former colleagues. Making new contacts is great, but if you lose old ones in the process, you won’t grow your network. It’s especially important to stay in touch with any mentors or mentees, since those are the kind of relationships that can span entire careers.
Tips For New Managers
Moving into a managerial position can make you feel like all eyes are on you and wind up wracking your nerves. Here are a couple ways to calm your first-week jitters.
Build Rapport Through 1-to-1 Meetings
Popular culture dictates that all new managers should gather their team together for a rousing pep talk. If that’s your style, great. But an approach based on one-to-one meetings can be just as fruitful, giving you the chance to practice active listening and tune in to the needs and ideas of individuals. When I first started my new role as executive director, I went on a “listening tour” to hear from many critical stakeholders and partners, all of I would collaborate with closely. These meetings helped me get a sense of what my team could achieve and where our challenges lie, as well as uncover ways to provide value to my business partners. However, I’d advise you to avoid acting on every item right away. Strong working relationships are built on trust, which can break down if you overpromise and under deliver.
Set Clear Expectations
If you transfer to a management position, some people will likely turn from colleagues to reports overnight. You may feel awkward about this and worry about establishing the right tone with former peers.
Your new reports may feel awkward about it too. The best way to put them at ease is to focus less on your management style and more on what every employee wants and needs: a clear sense of their boss’s expectations. Adjusting to the new dynamic needn’t get in the way of your team delivering great work from the get-go.
One final word of advice: Embrace the challenge. If you make a misstep or two in your first couple weeks, it’s not the end of the world. Your organization clearly believes in you and wants you to succeed. Go prove them right.
About Robert Half
Robert Half is the world’s first and largest specialized talent solutions firm that connects opportunities at great companies with highly skilled job seekers. Our marketing and creative specialists are ready to support your contract, temporary and permanent hiring or job search needs. Find your next marketing and creative hire or career opportunity at roberthalf.com