If every individual in an organization understood how to successfully exploit each opportunity they were given, the culture that would be created would produce sustainable success for the enterprise.
Individual success would beget constant performance improvements for the organization and a guarantee of long term health.
The problem is, however, most individuals don’t understand how to deal with a change in opportunity or position in the hierarchy. They don’t recognize that the change is a tipping point for them that must be managed correctly to maximize the benefits they (and the organization) realize FROM the change. This relates to ANY change facing an individual, whether it be a promotion, lateral move or a demotion (and you decide to stay and earn the right for another shot at success).
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My first rule of change: NEVER assume that what made you successful in the past will assure you of success in your new position.
Sure, you may have been selected for the position on the basis of past performance and demonstrated skills, but what happens tomorrow is a completely different matter. Yesterday’s fortune is not a predictor of tomorrow’s success. Tomorrow is a function of not only what you learned yesterday but also of how you adapt to the new challenges of your new responsibilities.
My second rule of change: ALWAYS ask yourself “The Magic Question”: “Given my new responsibilities, what do I need to do differently?” Why is it magic? Because it forces you out of the “I’m going to keep doing what I do” straight jacket and consider the new forces and people at play in your new role which render past behaviour virtually irrelevant.
Here’s how the answers to the MQ play out and determine the results of any change:
1. If you ask the MQ and get it right in terms of what must be done differently, you will maximize your chances of succeeding in your new position.
2. If you ask the MQ and get it wrong, you at least have the chance to try again, and have another shot at winning. It just takes longer than getting it right the first time.
3. If you don’t ask the MQ you are probably done! I say probably, because there is always an outside possibility you could be struck by lady luck and hit a jackpot.
Devote quality time to the MQ and be disciplined about crafting your answer. Document your work in as much detail as you can; review it regularly. “As product manager, I will…” is the lead in; make sure you don’t repeat how you execute your current responsibilities.
Also read: Do You Have A Copycat Culture?
MQ forces you to understand what is expected of you in your new position; if you don’t, you won’t be able to answer it. Spend time with your new boss, colleagues in other disciplines and your direct reports to get a handle on what you are expected to deliver and how you are expected to deliver it.
And make sure you have an intimate understanding of be disciplined about crafting your answer. of your organization. Use it as your guide to the relevant behaviour you must exhibit and the results you must produce.
The MQ works. I used it consistently throughout my career regardless of the moves I made. I was promoted (and used it); moved laterally (and used it) and, yes, demoted (and used it) to not only perform well in the new role assigned to me, but also to prepare me for higher level positions that were in my future. And the performance of the organization continued to improve as a result of the “success culture” we created.
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