How to Build Your Credibility in a New Role
When you’re new in your role, there’s so much to learn.
There’s the culture and “the way things are done here”. Figuring out who has decision-making power and building the network of contacts you need to get the job done.
And if you’re taking on a different role than before, there’s also mastering the technical knowledge, understanding the new market, or getting to know a different client base.
It’s exciting but also exhausting to be drinking from the fire hose. And all the time, the clock is ticking on proving yourself to your new managers and colleagues.
So, how do you build credibility while coming up to speed in a new job?
Here are three areas to focus on:
- Being “no surprises”
- Showing your special abilities
- Delivering quick wins
Start by being “no surprises”
This is about building trust and doing what you say you’re going to do.
It starts with getting clarity on expectations of you so you can deliver on the reality. What does success look like from their perspective? Are there milestones you’re expected to hit? Specific results they want you to deliver?
Make sure you understand exactly what’s expected and ask clarifying questions if you’re not sure. Then put it in writing and confirm the understanding in case expectations become a moving target.
Then it’s about providing transparency about what you’re working on.
For example, one of my group coaching clients suddenly had a bad review after a strong start in her new role. Her boss wondered whether she was up to the role because it was taking her weeks to do something he thought should take a weekend.
It turned out that he didn’t realize how much was on her plate and she hadn’t mentioned all the extra projects others had given her because of her strong start.
She turned things around by creating a spreadsheet listing every single project she was working on using a “traffic light system” for showing progress, and her action plan for the year. Once she showed this to her boss, he became more judicious about assigning her additional work and recognized the progress she was making. She’s now back on track and doing well.
So make sure you keep your boss updated, especially in the early days. Having regular communication means you can catch issues and ask for help before they become problems.
And this brings us to the second area.
Show your special abilities
When you use your special skills, you’ll automatically be in a position to do your best work. So think about the special abilities you bring to your new role and how to showcase them.
For example, if you’re a quick learner, you can show that you’re picking up new concepts quickly through the ideas you share and the questions you ask.
If strategic thinking is your forté, get clear on the big picture mission of your unit and talk about how your piece fits into that.
And if you’re good at synthesizing information and conveying it to others, then you can draw diagrams or other visual representations that make complex ideas easy to grasp.
The thing about your special skills is you probably take them for granted because they come naturally to you. So listen for what others say about you, especially any compliments that come your way. These are candidates for your special abilities. And once you discover them, you’ll be able to lean into them to build your credibility in your new role.
So if you’re joyful, be joyful. If you’re analytical, show that. If you’re a great communicator, stand out by presenting ideas in a structured, concise way.
Do what you do best, and above all, be yourself.
Which brings us to the third area.
Identify some quick wins
There’s nothing like having a few wins under your belt to build your credibility. So look for the low hanging fruit where you can deliver on the results that are valued in your new organization.
If you’re in sales, that means making inroads with a new client and bringing in new business. If your unit is in cost-cutting mode, see if you can connect the dots between the way you got more efficient in your previous role to do the same in your new one.
Regardless of whether you can deliver results in short order, there are ways you can add value simply by being new.
For example, whenever we had a new person join our team, I was keenly interested in their observations about the way we were doing things and insights on how we could improve. Just be careful how you word the “constructive criticism” and be sure not to reveal anything confidential. But know that you can add value from the start just by being in a new position.
The other way to build your credibility is to be engaged. New people coming into a group can bring a breath of fresh air. So don’t be afraid to demonstrate your enthusiasm and bring positive energy to the new role.
But what if you’ve already made mistakes in your new role?
Everyone makes mistakes, and it’s normal when you’re starting something new. The key is to learn from them so you don’t make the same mistake twice. And then forgive yourself and move on.
It’s impossible to do your best when you’re preoccupied with a mistake you made in the past. So start from where you are and build your credibility going forward.
Always be building your credibility
When you’re new in a role, it can feel challenging to build your credibility while also getting up to speed. And once you’ve been in your role for a while, it’s still important to keep building your credibility.
Whatever your situation, your credibility will grow from paying attention to these three areas:
- Be “no surprises” – get clear on what’s expected and keep the lines of communication open
- Show your special abilities – do what you do best and be yourself
- Deliver quick wins – focus on results that are valued and share your insights with a fresh pair of eyes
Which area would most help you build credibility in your role, especially if it’s new?
Leave a comment and let me know.