Starting a New Job



  1. What sort of organisation have you joined? This is unlikely to coincide precisely with how you perceived the organisation from the outside. You might refer to the culture wheel below to help make sense of this — I adapted this from the work of Manfred Kets de Vries [2]).
  2. What is your role? Is it clear what is expected of you and by whom? If your role is an established one, it will be worth finding out how your predecessor’s performance was perceived and why. Your predecessor may be around still and, if so, you may be able to organise a formal or informal handover meeting. If the role is new, you should be prepared for the role to evolve rapidly once you start.
  3. What do you know about your boss? What keeps her awake at night (if anything), is she left or right brain dominant or integrated, how authentic is she, impulsive or considered, detail or big picture, open to new ideas, family background and interests? For more on managing upwards see my book Compassionate Leadership [3].
  4. What do you know about your team? Who is in it, what are their job descriptions, how long have they been together, and all the same questions as for your boss above. What are their individual and collective development needs? Once again, there is more detail in my book but, for example, do they understand their purpose, vision and goals (indeed, is there clarity on this within the organisation as a whole?), are their processes effective, collectively do they have all the skills the task requires?
  5. Who are your stakeholders? Identify the other key people with an interest in your work and meet as many as possible. Understand their expectations of you and their previous experiences of your team.
  6. What are the technical challenges? The nature of the technical matters you will need to enquire into will depend on the organisational context.
  7. What’s the financial position of the business and the contribution your team makes to that? Yes, there is the necessary evil of the management accounts, but until you have a degree of clarity on the above, it will be difficult to make any sense of them.
Wheel of culture (after de Vries)

Attention … Go!


  1. Bridges, W. (2004). Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes (second edition). Cambridge, MA: Da Capo.
  2. Kets de Vries, M (2006). The Leadership Mystique (second edition). Harlow: Prentice Hall.
  3. Whitehead, C. (2019). Compassionate Leadership: Creating Places of Belonging. West Yorkshire: Solopreneur.



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Chris Whitehead

Chris Whitehead


Coach, podcaster, writer, and speaker, author of the book Compassionate Leadership