Back to resources

Two Months Into a New Role

Motivation
Changing Company
New Manager

20 April, 2021

Nahi Ojeil
Nahi Ojeil

Vice President of Engineering at Commure

Nahi Ojeil, VP of Engineering at Commure, tells of his efforts to reduce the anxiety of the team he recently took over.

Problem

As someone who is currently two months into a new role -- and a new company too --, I am still focused on reducing anxiety caused by my arrival. It is a rather natural response; anxiety happens when people are coping with the unknown, and in this particular case, I am the unknown.

Rather than ignoring the problem and let it evolve into a more worrisome issue, I tried to understand its causes and address each of them.

Actions taken

No balls should be dropped

People in most cases fear that in the transitions, many balls will be dropped. To tackle that problem, the first thing I did was to explain how I would do my onboarding. I shared with the team in the greatest detail what I was planning to do in my first thirty days. Thirty days later, I did my own evaluation and told them where I thought we were. It was only my interpretation, and I wanted them to help me with their feedback. I wanted to be very transparent about where I was heading and have that echo through the organization. I wanted them to know where I was in my thinking so they were not left guessing.

I would be particularly meticulous in my plans about all the things I knew little or nothing about. That would help me minimize -- or even eliminate -- the number of balls being dropped.

Bigger picture

I would also spend a lot of time painting a broader picture for them. Initially, that picture was a bit fuzzier, but it is becoming crispier week after week. People would start to see contours of the bigger picture and were able to dis/agree and see for themselves if what I was doing made sense. Over time, the picture would get clearer, but I had to begin with what was available and refine it as my actions unfolded.

Building excitement

I spent a lot of time interacting with people, either in one-on-ones or in smaller groups. That personal interaction helped me build motivation and excitement for what was coming ahead. Also, have the team become aware of the bigger picture they were part of, helped me build that excitement. I wanted them to feel comfortable being part of a journey that would lead us to our common goals.

I strongly feel that motivation and excitement are built by making people feel valued and included. Instead of working things my way without any consultations with the team, I would listen to them, appreciate their feedback and have them be part of the journey.

Lessons learned

  • In every team, a lot of things are implicit, and there is a web of assumptions around even the most basic things. If you don’t know how something works or how some decisions were made, feel free to ask and be explicit. Start with the most basic things and make them explicit. Assumptions are rarely correctly understood and may lead to serious misunderstandings.
  • As someone who has just joined the organization, you don’t need to have all the answers. It’s more sensible to be transparent than to create a distorted image of reality. Two months in, it is okay not to have all the answers, and it is okay to admit so, as opposed to pretending that you know everything.
  • People want to trust. They want to believe that someone new will make things better. No matter how pessimistic people are, there is something about humans that makes them lay hope in newcomers. There is an implicit assumption that this person will do some positive things. I never experienced a situation where people didn’t believe that I would do a good job. The challenge then becomes how you could leverage that hope early on and make sure to sustain trust.

Discover Plato

Scale your coaching effort for your engineering and product teams
Develop yourself to become a stronger engineering / product leader


Related stories

Leading Your Team in Stressful Situations

27 April

David Kormushoff, Director at Koho, recalls how he galvanized his team to tackle a time-sensitive problem, sharing his tips on how to shift chaos into calm.

Goal Setting
Leadership
Conflict Solving
Deadlines
Collaboration
Motivation
Strategy
Health / Stress / Burn-Out
David Kormushoff

David Kormushoff

Director at Koho

The Challenges of Becoming a New Manager Among Old Peers

22 April

Neha Saha, Manager, Software Development Engineering at Workday, illustrates the challenges of obtaining a position in management with no prior experience and the confidence it takes in order to succeed.

Leadership
New Manager
Neha Saha

Neha Saha

Manager, Software Development Engineering at Workday

Navigating Your Role Change: From IC to Engineering Manager

13 April

Anuj Vatsa, Engineering Manager at Carta, describes his journey of becoming an Engineering Manager and shares some tips for easing into this new role.

Managing Expectations
Handling Promotion
Personal Growth
Leadership
Feedback
Career Path
New Manager
Anuj Vatsa

Anuj Vatsa

Engineering Manager at Carta

Landing a Management Position without Recent Experience

4 April

Kate Semizhon, Engineering Manager at Square, shares her experience finding a role as an engineering manager without any recent experience.

Handling Promotion
Personal Growth
Hiring
Coaching / Training / Mentorship
New Manager
Kate Semizhon

Kate Semizhon

Engineering Manager at Cash App

Discovering Non-Traditional Pathways to Success

28 March

Killian Brackey, Co-founder, and CTO at Sezzle, shares his non-traditional journey, landing as the CTO of a fast-growing startup.

Architecture
Product
Personal Growth
Users
New Manager
Killian Brackey

Killian Brackey

Co-founder and CTO at Sezzle

You're a great engineer.
Become a great engineering leader.

Plato (platohq.com) is the world's biggest mentorship platform for engineering managers & product managers. We've curated a community of mentors who are the tech industry's best engineering & product leaders from companies like Facebook, Lyft, Slack, Airbnb, Gusto, and more.