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Securing A Fluid Transition to an Established Organization

Internal Communication
Coaching / Training / Mentorship
Stakeholders
Cross-Functional Collaboration

2 November, 2021

Priyanka Naik
Priyanka Naik

Principal Product Manager at Discover Financial Services

Priyanka Naik, AVP of Product and Technology at J.P. Morgan, describes her switch from a startup to a large company and how she created rapport with her new team.

Difficulties Transitioning to a Well-Established Organization

Earlier, I was working in a startup where I created a product from zero to one – meaning I brought it from idea to execution based on the founder’s ideas. The product I worked on was successful and received good traction for the company. After working at the startup, I transitioned into a larger, well-established company where expectations and processes were a lot different.

Firstly, since I was not building the product from scratch, I needed to upscale myself to understand the dynamics. Larger organizations tend to have much more complex products, including legacy products with many iterations and revisions. I struggled to understand how legacy products worked from the beginning and how each iteration increased its value. Secondly, compared to a startup, there were so many different teams working in collaboration on a single product. I needed to create a rapport with all these teams and lead them without direct authority.

Creating a Supportive Network and Growing My Knowledge

 

Discussing Challenges with Mentor:

Throughout my transition, I was transparent during conversations with my manager and mentor about the challenges of moving to a well-established company. I found that being honest about my struggles didn’t hold me back or provoke thoughts that I was less capable – rather the opposite. My manager provided me with actionable feedback and steps that I could take to overcome those challenges.

Developing Rapport with Cross-Functional Teams:

One of the pieces of advice my manager gave me was to grow connections with those in leadership roles and my direct team members. My manager said that these individuals would be more likely to help me out if we had a friendship outside of our employment. Even though we were working remotely, I made an effort to go to the office and meet my team members in person.

My company organizes a drinks party every Thursday evening. I made it a point to take up the opportunity to socialize with my colleagues and create a rapport with them over time. I’ve found that since I have actively created this connection, my team members are more inclined to help me out, even if they are overloaded with tasks themselves.

Over Communicate:

At the beginning of my transition, I was always on my toes, communicating with others and not leaving any work outstanding. I ensured that any issues were resolved with my products and teams. In comparison to a startup, it is more difficult to manage a large cross-functional team, but if you stay proactive, it is very doable. If I was unsure about a subject or challenge, I reached out to someone in my network or leadership to make myself available for the solution.

Lastly, in terms of communication, I’ve found that it is best to take ownership of everything that your team does from day one. Not only does this create successful team dynamics but a team that respects you as their leader.

How to Ensure a Smooth Transitional Period

  • Note all the key stakeholders that you can reach out to for subject knowledge about a specific issue. I still may not have all the answers regarding a product, but the biggest change is knowing whom I can contact to find the solution. Without building a network or relationship with your peers, you will be working in a silo with no connections to help build your knowledge.
  • Do not worry about being seen as incompetent when sharing your struggles with a manager or peer. Usually, leaders have faced similar challenges and can give concrete advice on how to overcome them. I discovered that my manager could empathize with me and help me bridge the knowledge gap so I didn’t fall further behind.

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