I queued to pay for my coffee at one of my company’s many fabulous in-house coffee shops. Presenting my card for payment prompted my server to share with me that it was her first day at this location, and that she was a little nervous, despite having worked for years at a very similar location elsewhere on site. Naturally, I tried to reassure her … I, for one, am always grateful for the help of my colleague in delivering my much-needed morning sustenance to me, and I felt sure that many people would be equally kind in bearing with her while she overcame the uncertainty and unfamiliarity of that particular morning.
Pondering on this brief exchange (for she really was efficient, and had little to worry about in terms of her ability and great customer service), several thoughts came to mind including the benefit of a really good induction process, and remembering to take time to interact with a colleague in need – but most prominent in my thoughts … the importance of situational leadership. Here was a woman who no doubt had much experience from a previous internal role – so presumably she’d know the organisation well, and would have understood her role there too. But her move across sites, to doing the same role in a different location, and with that familiarity suddenly gone, caused her to self-doubt and to express some concern about her ability.
The good news is that this is natural and healthy. A little humility, and a willingness to adapt to a new situation, is always a good thing. And who amongst us has never had first-day nerves?
The take-away? That as leaders we should never forget that a new first day may require a more directive leadership approach (if only for a short while) with someone we know to have previously demonstrated great knowledge, experience and willingness.