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Embracing transitions: Thrive in the face of change

"Every beginning comes from other beginning's end." – Seneca

IN the illustrious saga of the accountancy profession in the Philippines, this year stands as a momentous milestone commemorating a century of unwavering commitment to the principles of professionalism, integrity and excellence. During the year, a total of 4,979 successful individuals passed the licensure examination for certified public accountants (CPAs) — earning them the title "Centenary CPAs." Their success highlights the enduring spirit of dedication within the profession, showing the essential role accountants play in the nation's financial landscape.

As one of the new CPAs, we stand on the brink of a transformative journey where every shift and every change is an opportunity for profound professional growth. However, it is important to keep in mind that this experience is not exclusive to newcomers alone. Every professional, regardless of their tenure, meets the challenges of transitioning into new roles.

There is no denying the fact that change is inevitable, and any career involves adapting to new circumstances. Whether you are a seasoned expert or a recent graduate, your success in the first stages of a new role depends on your skill in navigating transitions. It is a vital skill that can either propel you toward success or pose challenges in your professional journey.

So, how can we build our transition competence?

Avoid transition traps

Transition traps are common pitfalls or obstacles people may encounter during a period of transition. These traps hinder a person's ability to successfully navigate change and may lead to setbacks or delays in achieving desired goals during the transition. Here are some of the common traps:

Sticking with what you know. Individuals often believe that replicating past practices guarantees success in their new role. They are blinded by this mindset and fail to recognize that they need to shed outdated habits and embrace new competencies.

Taking on too much work at once. This happens when individuals spread themselves thin. They launch many initiatives in various directions, hoping that at least some of them will yield positive results.

Coming in with "the" answer. This occurs when individuals approach situations with preconceived notions about a certain problem and solution. Swift judgments based on past and outdated experiences prevent collaboration with those who could supply valuable insights, missing opportunities to develop support for effective solutions.

Focusing on the wrong type of learning. This arises when individuals overly concentrate on the technical aspects of the business, neglecting the cultural and political dimensions of their new roles. In doing so, they fail to build the necessary cultural understanding, relationships and information networks that are vital for gaining a profound understanding of the organization's situation.

Disregarding horizontal connections. Many individuals devote too much time to their vertical connections, focusing on relationships with superiors and subordinates. They often overlook interactions with peers. Consequently, they miss their chance to build supportive alliances.

By understanding and addressing these potential pitfalls beforehand, we can significantly increase our chances of a smooth transition. However, transitions are not just about evading obstacles but also about actively steering our trajectory toward success. We must actively generate momentum by seizing opportunities, cultivating a growth mindset and fostering collaborative relationships.

Build your momentum

Learn and align. Information overload often happens in the initial stages of a new role. There is too much information to take in, and it is unclear where to focus. However, the key is to pinpoint what you need to learn and absorb it as fast as you can.

In this case, you need to ensure the balance between doing (taking an action) and being (observing and reflecting). Diving into action without investing time in learning can lead to poor decisions that can undermine your credibility. Your learning plan should aim to provide you clarity on your company's strategic direction so you can align your efforts effectively.

Develop relationships. Begin by establishing a constructive relationship with your new boss. Take the time to comprehend the most effective ways for both of you to collaborate successfully in the long term.

Make sure you have clear expectations. Even if you believe you understand what your boss expects from you, you should regularly reconfirm and clarify. Define what success looks like. It is better to underpromise and overdeliver than to overpromise and underdeliver. Identify the aspects that hold significance to your boss and get some early wins in those areas.

Keep your boss informed about any challenges you encounter. Provide regular updates and avoid unexpected surprises. As soon as you identify a problem, inform your boss promptly. When discussing issues, offer practical solutions. Do not wait for your boss to change; it is your responsibility to adjust to their preferences and make the relationship work.

Once you are aligned with your boss, concentrate on getting to know your direct reports if you have them. Ask for their insights on the organization, as well as their views on the immediate priorities. Take the time to understand them both personally and professionally.

Establish credibility. A great way to build credibility is by achieving early success by concentrating on a few promising opportunities instead of trying to do everything at once. Most importantly, make sure your gains are consistent with your organization's culture.

As a community of resilient professionals, let us always remember that in every transition lies an excellent opportunity for growth and transformation. Our journey is defined not just by the challenges we face, but also by how we overcome them. As we explore the intricate paths of our careers, let us approach transitions not with fear, but with enthusiasm. Let us actively seek out possibilities, learn from our early mistakes and build bridges with those around us.

Let this be the moment for you to decide not just to weather the storm, but to dance in the rain.


Emmanuel A. Dorongon, CPA, CTT, is a senior tax associate at Paguio, Dumayas and Associates, CPAs (PDAC)-PrimeGlobal Philippines (an institutional member of Acpapp). The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not represent that of the organizations he is connected with.

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