5 things you can do when you’ve gained a new role but lost your motivation

You’ve recently stepped up into a new role. You’ve got a bigger team and you’ve been given more responsibility. You know you should be feeling excited, motivated, happy even. But truth is, you’re not. The role you’ve got isn’t quite where you envisaged your career going. Another restructure has happened and your new role is the result of a merger of your old team with another one. The other team’s manager decided to take redundancy meaning, even though you went through an interview process, by apparent default you got the job.

The new role is surfacing all kinds of feelings, including the dreaded impostor phenomenon. Yes, you’ve got more money to go with the job but that’s only making things feel worse. You want to give value but you’re not sure you can. You feel like you’re going through the motions.

Sound familiar? Don’t worry. You’re not alone. This is an issue that’s come up for lots of clients in coaching sessions over the years.

Here are five things you can do to get your motivation back on track:

1) WRITE OUT YOUR ‘FIRST 90 DAYS’ PLAN

If you’ve not quite started in the new role, or if you’re only a week or so on then this one is for you. This is an activity that can give you focus and help break down what can feel like an overwhelming job into smaller elements. We have a short amount of time to make a positive impact in a new role and according to Michael Watkins’ book, that time is 90 days.  Mapping out the first 90 days in a role can give you clarity on the most important things to focus on, breaking this down into mini goals. When I’ve helped clients build their first 90 days plan we’ve broken the plan down into headings such as:

  • Relationships that must be developed
  • The new team that must be built
  • Systems and processes that must be understood
  • Projects that must succeed

Once you’ve developed your overarching plan, you’re then in a position to break this down into weekly and daily goals. This can give you a sense of momentum and satisfaction when you review at the end of each week how things are going. For example, you might set yourself a goal to meet with your opposite number in a key partner organisation.

2) GET CLEAR ON EXPECTATIONS

A lack of clarity and ambiguity around what’s expected of you and subsequently, your team might be the thing impacting your motivation. If it’s a new function you’ve been asked to head up, that’s never been done in the organisation before, this might mean others are unclear too.

If you haven’t already, sit down with your boss and ask them what success looks like for this function and your role. Helpful questions to ask include:

  • In 12 months’ time, if this team has achieved great success what would that look like?
  • How would we measure that success?
  • What are the most important outcomes and outputs you’re expecting to see?
  • If I’m a successful leader in this role, how would you describe that?
  • What are the things we must pay close attention to?

You can download this helpful checklist I created to help you clarify expectations.

3) CONNECT WITH PEOPLE

As Adam Grant said on an episode of his podcast, “When we focus on the people we work with, it can energise us”. 

By turning the focus away from you to others could, therefore, be a way to relight your spark. As someone in a management role you’ll have lots of different people relying on you. Think about the quality of relationships you currently have with:

  • Each member of your team
  • Your boss
  • Your customers/clients/patients/service users 
  • Your peers inside your organisation
  • Your peers outside your organisation

Are there any of these relationships that need to improved? Are there people not currently on the list that you must build good relationships with as part of your new role? What are you going to do to nurture your most important relationships? How can you help the different people on your list? This last question is particularly important in building compassionate workplaces, something Monica Worline and Jane Dutton talked about in their book, Awakening compassion at work,

“…regular, consistent, normalized help-giving is a condition that supports high-quality ties and connections between people”

4) CHECK YOU’VE GOT YOUR THREE C’S IN BALANCE

Suzanne Kobasa first came up with the concept of hardiness which has three elements to it:

  • Our COMMITMENT to what we do
  • The amount of CONTROL we have over what we do
  • The level of CHALLENGE offered through what we do

It could be, therefore, that the reason you’re feeling uncomfortable, demotivated and perhaps a bit of an impostor could be to do with one or more of these elements. By turning the elements into questions, you can start to unpick what’s at the root of your concern. Here are some questions, focused on the commitment element, to get you started:

  • On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is no commitment at all and 10 is 100% committed, how committed are you to this role?
  • Whatever score you put, say you put ‘5’, what was the reason you gave that score and not a lower one? (this helps you build on the positives)
  • Where do you want to get your commitment to in the next three months? Say you put ‘8’, what would this feel like if you were that committed? What would others experience?
  • What are the steps you can take that will move you from a ‘5’ to an ‘8’?
  • What is the first step you will take? It doesn’t matter how small the step is if it’s moving you forward.

You can repeat this activity for the control and challenge elements.

5) CRAFT YOUR JOB TO MEET YOUR NEEDS

Amy Wrzesniewski and Jane Dutton came up with the theory of job crafting in 2001. Job crafting focuses on the physical and cognitive changes people can make in the task or relationship aspects of their work. This subsequently helps the person define the content and value of what they do (meaning) and who they are at work (identity). And in 2018, a group of researchers found that job crafting is positively related to greater feelings of job ownership and commitment to the organisation.

Job crafting can focus on one or more of the following:

  • Task crafting, such as altering the amount of work tasks and/or way to do them (tip number two might help with this);
  • Relationship crafting, such as changing the amount of control a person has over interpersonal interactions at work (tip number three might help with this); and
  • Cognitive crafting, in other words a person changing how they view their job (tip number four might help with this).

Thinking about your own context, can the three aspects of job crafting offer a clue (and solution) to why you’re feeling the way you do?

Did you find this post helpful? I’d love to know, so Tweet me, or drop me a note on LinkedIn. If you have any colleagues that you feel should read this, too, please share it with them. I’d really appreciate it.

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