Fear and Change in the New Assignment

Every time I have been taken a new assignment in a new organization, the first question that was asked of me was “What are you going to do first?” My answer was invariably the same one. I would reply “I am first going to learn”. I would give this answer to both the people I reported to, as well as the people that reported to me.


It is good to come into a new role with a rough idea about what may or may not need to be done. This helps you create the first action plan. What normally happens then is that both your preconceived ideas and your plan rarely survive the first encounter with the actual business realities of the assignment intact. It is then that you learn why the situation is in the state it is in.


Machiavelli noted that the two principle ways to govern a new organization were to either go live amidst the existing leadership structure, or to destroy the existing structure and replace it with your own. I have been in corporate cultures where both approaches have been the norm. The team replacement culture usually breeds a business culture of fear, whereas the more inclusive approach will create a more constructive environment for the business.


I have found that my personal preference is to go and locate amidst the existing structure. In this way you can facilitate and speed up your learning process regarding the business. The existing team will always have some stake hold in the existing structures and processes of the business, but in general they will also know that a leadership change has been made for a reason. That reason is to usually change the direction of the business. This is usually easier to do with a team that is familiar with you instead of one that is afraid.

One thought on “Fear and Change in the New Assignment”

  1. It’s been said that in the Bible, the LORD commands us no less than 365 times to “Fear Not.” (or “Do not be afraid”) Clearly we lose our effectiveness when we react to Fear (through self-preservation) rather than to the demands of the situation (the “Mission” or the “Employment”). Machiavelli’s description is perfectly accurate! We are further told, to be effective, we should “go to where those in need are.” This is a way of saying that effective people will walk along side the team rather than demolish it and start over — who wants to hire someone that criticizes the way that things are done (*even if* they are ineffective). On the first day, you go learn the ropes, become part of the team. Then, after mutual trust is established, you introduce new ideas. Who LIKES to be told they are wrong?
    Here, below, is an perfectly written example, of an effective new assignment: Note that Philip, responding to His leadership, seeks to introduce himself to the Ethiopian official’s circumstances, concerns, and conditions, and then from that STARTING POINT, elaborates, educates, and edifies = = = = = = = = = = = =
    Act 8:26 As for Philip, an angel of the Lord said to him, “Go south down the desert road that runs from Jerusalem to Gaza.”
    Act 8:27 So he started out, and he met the treasurer of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under the Kandake, the queen of Ethiopia. The eunuch had gone to Jerusalem to worship,
    Act 8:28 and he was now returning. Seated in his carriage, he was reading aloud from the book of the prophet Isaiah.
    Act 8:29 The Holy Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and walk along beside the carriage.”
    Act 8:30 Philip ran over and heard the man reading from the prophet Isaiah. Philip asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?”
    Act 8:31 The man replied, “How can I, unless someone instructs me?” And he urged Philip to come up into the carriage and sit with him.
    Act 8:32 The passage of Scripture he had been reading was this: “He was led like a sheep to the slaughter. And as a lamb is silent before the shearers, He did not open His mouth.
    Act 8:33 He was humiliated and received no justice. Who can speak of His descendants? For His life was taken from the earth.”
    Act 8:34 The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, was the prophet talking about himself or someone else?”
    Act 8:35 So beginning with this same Scripture, Philip told him the Good News about Jesus.
    Act 8:36 As they rode along, they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “Look! There’s some water! Why can’t I be baptized?”
    Act 8:37 “You can,” Philip answered, “if you believe with all your heart.” And the eunuch replied, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”
    Act 8:38 He ordered the carriage to stop, and they went down into the water, and Philip baptized him.
    Act 8:39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away. The eunuch never saw him again but went on his way rejoicing.
    = = = = FEAR NOT!!

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