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March 5, 2024
The Manual To Get A Good Start On A New Job

The Manual To Get A Good Start On A New Job

During my previous job changes, I didn’t give much thought to the transition process until I came across a guide by Bengt Kallenberg. His recommendation to have both short and long-term plans, ranging from one, two, and three months to 180 days, proved to be a game-changer during my last job switch. In this blog post, I’d like to explore this guide with you, sharing some insights based on my own experiences.

Transitioning Between Roles and Industries

Switching roles, especially when moving across different industries, poses a set of unique challenges. Research indicates that shifting roles within the same company can be even more demanding than entering a new organization altogether. This difficulty is frequently attributed to inadequate preparation and a tendency to overestimate one’s abilities. It’s essential to acknowledge these challenges and adopt a strategic approach to successfully navigate such transitions.

Photo: Marten Bjork, Unsplash 

Insights from my own experiences

In my recent job change, it all began with the job interview. I asked important questions to understand what the role required. When I found gaps in my knowledge, I took the time to study. The lesson here is that preparation starts before your first day.

Early Days: Navigating the Unfamiliar

The first week, with my manager away, was different. Luckily, a senior colleague and a new hire, plus a detailed document, helped me navigate. This introduction set the tone for a productive first week.

Aligning Expectations: A Key Meeting

My second week I booked a 1-2-1 meeting with my manager, to make sure we had the same expectations of what I should do and deliver. Amid ongoing changes, the focus shifted to learning the system and exploring automation. Finding quick wins, like helping my colleagues with JIRA, got me started. I also made a short-term and a long-term plan for my deliveries.

It’s important to make sure you have the same view of what should be delivered and when. If your manager not book a 1-2-1 meeting for this, you should do it yourself.

Uncovering Challenges: A Team in Transition

I almost immediately found out that it was a very inexperienced team I was working with. They had no experience in working agile or with Scrum. They were not aligned either.

Quite soon I found out that a big question that had been ongoing for years was at which level they should perform their testing on. It was hard to understand how it could be a so big issue to decide a way of working. The test strategy was also a big issue.

I also found out some ongoing disputes between different persons. This much thanks to participate at the coffee breaks where you can learn to know new colleagues better. Don’t take anyone’s party right away, you should build your own opinion instead.

Influencing Change: Review to Action

I started to question these things and discussed them with my manager, who shared my view of the problem. He released that my earlier experiences maybe could be helpful in influencing the team in changing their way of working.

I was asked to do a review of the current situation and come up with a proposal about what needed to be changed, instead of starting do hands on testing. This review became my 3-month goal. Just remember to make sure that what you deliver is considered valuable.

Networking and Insights: Collaborating for Change

When I was performing the review, I also got to know a Dutch guy that was working with the knowledge spreading in the automation area.  We had the same view of most things regarding testing, so he become a good helper that I could discuss ideas with.

There was also something called Community of Practice or COP for testers. That everyone that worked with testing was invited to, I started to suggest subjects to bring up. This led to a couple of new contacts, for example the organizer of the COP and other important stakeholders.

This resulted in me getting involved in reviewing the test strategy of the entire department. Networking is one key in finding out how your company works and what persons you should talk to and build relations with.

Unveiling Company Dynamics: Through Testing Strategies

As I was looking into things, I found out they’d been talking about how to do testing for four years. They didn’t trust the supplier, and I learned about our current work tools by chatting with people like the Dutch guy and others in my network. Interestingly, there’s been a test strategy for years, but no one on our team knew about it or followed it.

It’s important to know why things are the way they are, what challenges might come up, and how the company’s culture fits into it all.

Implementing Change: Overcoming Resistance

After presenting the review, some people didn’t agree with it. Soon after, there was an organizational change, and we got a new manager. My task remained the same – to implement the new way of working and help the team adapt. Later, the plan for SAFe and Scrum teams began.

I followed my plan, presenting the review after 3 months. However, the long-term plan got disrupted by organizational changes and a problematic team. So, I had to adjust my 180-day plan, highlighting the importance of planning but being flexible to adapt to changes.

Agile Transformation: Navigating New Roles

Courses in SAFe and Scrum methodologies set the stage for real work. Initial challenges with an inexperienced PO and Scrum master prompted my involvement in securing an Agile coach through my network contacts. Balancing responsibilities and guiding them toward their roles became crucial.

It is important to keep the balance and try to focus on those things that pay off most, you can’t run on every ball yourself.

Photo: Austin Distel, Unsplash

Overcoming Obstacles: A Team in Transition

I continued with the agile transformation of the teams and the changing of test level and test strategy. The team members, resistant to change, was the real obstacle here. They were really convinced about that we should continue work as we did. They specially pointed at my short time in the project.

I took a step back and worked as they did for a couple of weeks. Then I could say that I knew how they worked, I also understood if we continued like this, we would fail miserable in our delivery.

To get some attention for my worries I booked a meeting with higher management to discuss this. I presented how we were working today and what that would lead to, how we wanted to work both according to the existing test strategy and from common sense if you know how to perform testing from start to end of a product. This led to pressure on the PO and team manager to solve the situation.

Delivering Change: A 180-Day Milestone

After facing numerous challenges and discussing various ideas, I finally got my ideas accepted. We changed the way we worked by trusting our suppliers more, reviewing their reports, and doing more system-level testing. Our communication with suppliers improved, and I introduced Exploratory Testing, which we started doing regularly. We also started automation testing on a small scale.

Our teams collaborated much better, and everyone understood how to work in an agile way. It took nearly 180 days, but both my old and new managers were happy, along with many others who appreciated the changes.

Lessons Learned: A Solo Endeavor with Support

While the path was often solitary, the support of key individuals, notably the Dutch guy, was instrumental. The journey showcased the importance of personal initiative in ensuring a successful start at a new job. 

So, don’t ask what your next employer can do for you to get a good start, ask what you can do to get a good start at the new job.

The First 90 Days: Setting the Stage for Success

Embarking on a new job is like stepping onto a significant stage in your career. The initial 90 days play a pivotal role in shaping your journey for the years to come. This period provides a unique opportunity for a fresh start, allowing you to establish new expectations and introduce positive changes to your work environment. Yet, it’s not without its challenges as you navigate through unfamiliar relationships and gain a deeper understanding of your role’s intricacies. But it sets the tone for your professional experience and growth.

Phases of Transition

A career transition involves navigating through three distinct phases, each with its unique challenges and opportunities – The Quitting Phase, the Exploring Phase and the Starting Phase. These phases serve as a roadmap for professionals seeking a successful transition, offering insights and guidance on bidding farewell to the familiar, charting personal growth and making impactful strides in a new role.


1. Quitting Phase

Entering the quitting phase is a big moment when you intentionally let go of your old job and the duties that came with it. This is even more important if you’re moving from a job that had multiple aspects, like being both a tester and test leader, to a completely new setting.

This part is super important, especially if you’re making this change in a big company that’s going through a lot of organizational changes. It’s crucial to understand and admit that there might be challenges during this time. Making changes in such a fast-paced environment needs a careful plan. So, as you say goodbye to your old role and get ready for the next step in your career, it’s all about thinking ahead and being ready for what’s next.

 Photo: Corinne Kutz, Unsplash

2. Exploring Phase

Now, let’s talk about the exploring phase, which actually starts before you say goodbye to your current job. It’s all about digging into what you want to achieve and where you want to grow. Take a moment to figure out your personal goals, identify the relationships you need to build, and get a good grasp of what’s happening in the business right now.

Create a solid plan for the first three months, including some quick wins you want to achieve. It’s important to talk to your manager about your plans to make sure you’re on the same page and moving in the right direction. This phase is like preparing your roadmap for the exciting journey ahead.


3. Starting Phase

Now, let’s dive into the starting phase. This is where you need to keep your attention on the most important parts of your new job. It might be tempting to try and do everything, but it’s better to focus on what really matters. Your first moves are like the first strokes on a canvas – they can leave a lasting impression.

Take the time to get to know your team members; they’re like your co-painters on this new project. Stick to the plan you made earlier, and don’t forget to keep your manager in the loop about what you’re up to. It’s also crucial to build strong connections with key people in the organization – they’re like the vibrant colors that add richness to your painting. Connecting with them will make your journey in the new role even more colorful and rewarding. 


In summary, transitioning between roles and industries requires strategic planning and the recognition of potential challenges. The initial 90 days in a new role set the stage for future success, involving both fresh starts and challenges.

The quitting phase signifies intentionally letting go of the old role, while the exploring phase involves pre-transition preparations, such as goal setting and relationship building. The starting phase requires focus on essential tasks, akin to painting the canvas of a new role. Successful navigation involves acknowledging challenges, strategic planning and building meaningful connections for a fulfilling professional journey.

It all beginns at the job interview, read more about how to ace your job interview performance in a previous blog post here.


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