12 questions to help a client transition to a new role

Moving into a new role is one of the most common situations that arises in coaching and mentoring. There are multiple uncertainties and inevitable concerns on all sides. The new role holder will usually have to make adjustments in how they lead, but it may not be clear what these should be. Here are 12 questions (plus some subsidiary questions) that can help the client prepare for the role transition. They are also useful for reviewing progress at intervals during the first 90 days.

1. What do you do really well in your current role that you want to import into the new role?
2. What do you need to leave behind in the old role? (What are you going to have to stop doing, or do a lot less of?)
3. How do you need to change your networks to make them fit the needs of the new role?
4. How will you make your mark in the first 90 days? How will you ensure the support and constructive feedback from your team, from your new boss and other key colleagues over this period?
5. How can you understand the story (narrative) of this team so far? (Remember “retro-engineered learning”?) How can you gain an accurate understanding of the legacy your predecessor has left?
6. How can you leverage your “role naivety” to maximum effect while it lasts (especially in the first month!)?
7. How can you engage with your new direct reports so they are genuinely positive about the idea of radical change, if it is required?
8. What are you most afraid of / worried about in this new role? What two things could you do that would boost your confidence in this respect?
9. How genuinely aligned are your expectations of the role and those of your new boss? What have you done to facilitate a re-definition of the role, once you have fully understood it?
10. What will make the difference between just doing this role and relishing it?
11. What are your learning and career goals from this role? (What is it a launch-pad for?)
12. What can you influence in this role, which will have a wider, positive effect on your division, company, or society?

© David Clutterbuck, 2013

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