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  • Writer's pictureSimon Barman-Jenssen

The first meeting in a new job

Here are my thoughts on the journey into my new work environment, 9 months into it.

9 months ago I had my first day in the new and exciting position as Meeting & Event Manager at the Clarion Hotel The Edge, the biggest conference hotel in Northern Norway. It is only now I'm starting to realize everything that has happened since then, and boy is that a lot.


Firstly, I'd like to address the uncertainty one experiences when going into a new manager position, or any other position for that matter. "Will they accept me, will they approve of my methods, will I fit into their work environment?". I'm pretty sure that any person who is faced with the same situation will have similar thoughts and I was no acceptation.


It Is a special thing, walking into a room of new faces and introducing yourself as their new manager, well aware that these people have been part of this operation for many years. It is also worth mentioning that I had zero to none experience working in hotels before this so I was really stepping on unfamiliar ground. You get this sensation that if you screw up this first meeting, you screw up everything. Later I've come to realize that this is not always the case.


My first meeting went pretty okay. I said everything I had planned to say and the people seemed to approve of me. But even how good it actually went I still felt like it weren't as good as I hoped. I felt like I over performed and that I didn't come across as the true me, and to some degree that is also true. It is pretty normal to moderate our personality in the face of strangers and I felt I had over done it. It took months before I was comfortable letting the act go and showing my full personality. And this brings me to my first lesson.


You are not the only one being tested

When starting in a new position it is normal to have a trial period in the job. This usually lasts for 2-3 months, sometimes shorter. In my experience this is often seen as a "safety net" for the employer, to make sure that they are not hiring the wrong person for the job. I know quite a few people who have felt burdened during these months since they feel watched and evaluated at any given time. It is first after this period that you can relax, "Yes, I made it. Now I am safe". If this is how you see this trial, you are stressing for the wrong reasons.


In my example, I moderated my work ethic and personality by toning everything down in the first few months of the job. Neither I or the employer would know how I actually would suit the job if I kept it going. And that is important to remember. You are not fooling anyone by doing it this way. As a matter a fact, the trial period is just as much your opportunity to check if this job fits you. If you walk the tight rope and act like what you believe everyone wants you to be, you can get stuck in an environment you don't want to be in. It is much better to be your full self from the start and than evaluate your fits you expectations. Luckily for me I realized that the more I let it go, the more I enjoyed the work. I was a good fit and it just became clearer the more time went by.


Don't wait with the follow-up

The second most important meeting after the first one is the follow-up appraisal meeting with your employees. This is also one of those terrifying situations where you are not totally sure what you are going to hear, but it is also a relief since you are given the opportunity to explain your own mentality and ethic.


Looking back at these conversations I am so grateful for actually going through with them. In this meeting I got to learn a lot about the people I'm working with and their expectations towards me and towards themselves. This made it a lot easer for me to choose the right path the department and for my staff. I also learned a lot of things which were important to get out of the way early on to make sure that there were no tense feelings.


We have recently had our second appraisal and I'm happy to see that I have been able to deliver on some of the goals we set together in the last one. And that is a statement to the importance of these conversations. Without good communication we are fumbling around in the dark. I look back at these appraisals with a big piece of pride. Not only for myself but because I can see that we are able to work great together and that it gives some sort of value to the employees too. After all, these meetings are also their opportunity by right to give me feedback on what I should do better. To me that is holy and highly important to respect. You should let the other person talk, no matter what it is.


In the end, they are the thing I am most proud of in my current job. It is not always easy getting a new manager but they have greeted me with open arms. They are truly the best Meeting & Event crew in Norway and I value and respect their feedback and opinions. In a way, giving them an opportunity to be honest about the situation is the least I can do.


But even how well we work together or how good results we deliver, there is always room for improvement. And that brings me to my third and final lesson.


Rome was not built in a day

I find it natural that when someone starts in a new manager position there are certain changes one wants to make, but how does one go about executing them? Anita Krohn Traaseth, the Director of Innovation Norway ones stated that succeeding with transformational leadership is a marathon and the process can last up to 5 years, depending on how comprehensive the transformation is.


Personally I'm not a very patient guy and I like quick results. It is then very hard to slow down the tempo, but usually it is highly necessary. Not that any of my changes are close to the scale Anita Traaseth is talking about but it is still important to have it in the back of your head. Changes take time, even if we like it or not.


When I started in this job there were a lot of minor changes I wanted to make. Some of them we have succeeded with implementing, but there is still ways to go, but I don't mind it that much anymore. I came to realize that I was rushing things and it became overwhelming for everyone involved. At one point we were changing our routines, opening new revenue streams, learning new tech and trying to balance all of them whilst cutting hours. When summarized like this it is easy to see that we were trying to do things a bit too fast and people didn't have time to adjust. Luckily I have employees that are honest enough to make me aware of it and urge me to slow down.


This situation made me feel embarrassed. I should have seen it myself a lot sooner but when you are inside the revolutionary mindset you tend to forget everything else. But with every set back there is room for learning. The revelation resulted in a restructuring of how I went about changes. We are now planning more long term and selecting changes and projects in an orderly fashion. But there is one more thing that changed as a result of this incident.


There is motivation in the past

When I was made aware of the unhealthy tempo we were working in I became speechless. I spend the entire afternoon thinking about how we had been working the last months and all the different changes we had gone through. It was insane to reflect on it. In six months time we had achieved so much and it was obvious that we had gotten something from it, but that we couldn't keep on going like this. We had so slow down and make all the changes work before we moved on to new ones.


But this was also the first time I had stopped and looked back on our achievements since I started in the job. We had done so much and has so much to be proud of. Every now and again I use these examples for my staff to remind them of everything we have achieved and there is a lot of motivation in that. Work shouldn't always be about reaching the end goal as soon as possible, because usually there is no end. We will always strive to be better so why not do it in a healthy and structured way.


To sum it all up, these 9 months have been a fairytale with a lot of side storys and feelings. I have learned a lot, both about myself but also about the industry. I enjoy and appreciate the fact that I am allowed to work with such wiggle room as I do right now. And I love to see that I am able to achieve results, together with my team, friends and colleagues.


-Simon




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