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Executive Career Transitions that Go “Bad”—and What to Do about It

Whenever you anticipate launching a high-level job or career transition, you undoubtedly hope it will go smoothly. However, only a “Pollyanna-type” personality would blithely assume that such a result will occur every time. You don’t need to be a hard-core pessimist, of course, but being prepared can save you a lot of grief in the long run. 

 

Three Career Transition Mistakes to Watch Out For

Realistically, it’s smart to assume that your planned career transition (new job and/or new field or industry) could hit snags. Worst case, you could find that it gets thrown disastrously off course or lands you in a situation that’s nowhere close to what you expected. That can happen if you make one or more of these mistakes:

  1. Snap judgment: I know everything I need to know about the situation I’m heading for. More research would be a waste of time- it would just take me take longer to reach my goal.
  2. Misplaced trust: I have good information from someone close to the situation. I don’t need to search further for reliable sources to verify the info.
  3. Impulsive decisions: This is too good an opportunity to pass up. I need to grab it now, before someone else does.

 

What’s Wrong with Those Transition Mistakes?

If you look at them together, you’ll see a common thread: failure to investigate carefully enough to expose previously unnoticed pitfalls, which is driven by an excessive sense of urgency. For example:

  1. Assumptions that close the door prematurely can trip you up before you know it. They stem from a belief that you’ve captured the essence of the opportunity without doing enough due diligence, You’re so focused on not wasting time that you don’t see the possibility that more information could offset what you think you know.
  2. Resources with inside information can be an excellent aid to your career transition. The problem occurs when you don’t sufficiently vet the reliability and accuracy of your source and his/her information. The individual might not have all the relevant facts or might have a personal ax to grind that hasn’t been revealed to you.
  3. Decisiveness represents an important characteristic of successful senior managers and executives. Nothing wrong with that…IF you take into account the fact that undue haste can lead you to make a very unwise career move. If you grab an opportunity that turns out to be a bad fit, or worse, you’ll have plenty of time to regret your impulsive- and premature- decision.

 

Made the Transition Mistake- Now What?

So you ignored any possible warning signs or precautionary measures and rushed to execute your career transition. Unfortunately, now you’ve learned what a really bad mistake that was!

Maybe the great-sounding opportunity came with some “gotcha” elements that make it a whole lot less desirable than the way it was presented to you. Or perhaps the company is now facing a takeover bid that’s creating a huge amount of uncertainty and stress in your new department- a bid you might have found out about if you’d checked out rumors more carefully.

 

How bad is it? If you haven’t gone past the point of no return in the transition process, you might still be able to call a halt before total disaster strikes, then regroup and develop a transition plan focused on a new goal. However, if you’re already in the middle of the mess, it becomes a question of how to either extricate yourself from it ASAP or look for possible ways to mitigate the disaster and its impact on your career until you can get out.

For instance, is there any chance to win support from key players in your new organization that will at least minimize the greatest negative aspects facing you? A well-placed ally or two could help you overcome the worst of the difficulties and possibly even gain a reasonable amount of benefit from the situation in the near term.

In any case, you won’t want to stay in that spot indefinitely. You need to identify steps that will enable you to put the bad transition outcome behind you as soon as you reasonably can. Just remember that excessive haste is what got you into it in the first place, so make sure you take more mindful, career-savvy actions next time.

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About the author

Georgia Adamson's picture

This article was written by Georgia Adamson, MRW/ACRW, of BlueSteps Executive Career Services. Georgia has served senior executives globally since 1993. Through intensive one-on-one consultations, Georgia helps executives uncover their strengths and highlight their most meaningful career accomplishments to position them for their next executive opportunity.

Learn more about the BlueSteps team of career advisors and the services they provide to help you improve your career trajectory here.

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Well explained and nice one.

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