Your Executive Role – ‘It’s not what they promised!’

So, you’ve left your old job – which was actually quite a nice one, even though your career wasn’t really going places – and joined a new company, because the role on offer sounded really great!

Now you’ve been in your new executive role for a few months, and it’s becoming alarmingly clear that the job you’re doing is not what you thought it was going to be.

You’re beginning to wonder whether you missed something in the interview process. Or were too rash or hasty with your decision-making?

But it’s not like you made the decision to move overnight. There were multiple interviews (possibly too many), lots of discussions with different stakeholders at the new company, and you did your due diligence too regarding the culture, the role, your boss, etc.
Which all took several months, and lots of consideration.

So what’s going on, and what can you do about it?

Firstly, although this might not offer much solace, this situation is not entirely uncommon. I hear it from time to time, even with very senior executives, and even when the role has been clearly defined (because of course, there are also those relatively wishy-washy role descriptions, where it’s quite difficult to decipher how one will be spending one’s day at work).

I also appreciate the dilemma that someone in a leadership position is faced with, when this happens. If you complain about it, you may be seen as ‘inflexible’, ‘unresponsive to change’, ‘not seeing the opportunities’….or other similar judgments.

These are not ‘labels’ that one wants to inadvertently be stuck with.

So, instead of going in with a ‘This is not what I signed up for’ approach, consider an alternative: Stating Facts and Asking Questions.

Here’s how it works:
– You gather information on how you’re spending your time, what’s going on in your day, who you’re interacting with, etc
– Arrange a meeting with the right person internally (this might be the CEO, someone on the board, the HRD, or other)
– You are now able to ‘State the Facts’, without any hyperbole or emotion
– Now you can ‘Ask the Questions’, which should be along the lines of:
1. ‘In your view, is this how I should be spending my time?’
2. ‘How long should it take for my role to transition to what was described when you hired me?’
3. ‘What additional building blocks are needed to make this transition?’

As you can see – no whining and moaning, no blaming, accusing or criticising.

You might also learn something about yourself, your expectations, your performance, and your growth opportunities in the process. Or you might learn that you’ve made the biggest mistake of your career.

Better now than later.

– Debbie Goodman-Bhyat

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