By: Tom Schlick
You’ve just hired a new leader for your company, and today is her first day on the job. You are as excited to have her on board as she is to be joining your company. What could go wrong? Maybe everything if your company’s on-boarding process is not done well!
Many companies lack a thorough on-boarding process, leaving the new employee in a “sink or swim” situation, with very little organizational support. I know because I have personally gone through a poor on-boarding experience. Not having organizational support right away felt unsettling. In my case, the CEO was always “too busy” and couldn’t find the time to provide me some feedback on an observation I thought was important. I learned quickly that my input wouldn’t be valued as much as I’d been led to believe. Derailment like this can happen in a variety of ways. Don’t let it to your prized new hire!
Here are five essential steps to ensure a successful on-boarding of your new leader:
- Assist with cultural assimilation. No doubt, the newly hired leader came from an organization with a different culture than that which exists within your company. Her work behaviors and style for getting things done maybe counter to what is accepted as normal in your company. Worse yet, this new leader may have “blind spots” that keep her from seeing that adjustments are needed. Helping the new leader understand and adjust behaviors to fit the new culture is a critical first step.
- Create supportive alliances. One of the best things you can do is match your new hire with another skilled leader on your team to provide some guidance to successfully navigate the first few months. Having a seasoned, trusted collaborator will help your new leader amplify their initial effectiveness, something which is essential given the challenges and opportunities she was hired to address. The mentor/collaborator should be someone who really understands the company’s culture and can help her understand which hot-button issues to weigh in on in the early going — and which ones to save for later!
- Secure early wins. Nothing breeds success more than having early wins. New leaders coming into your organization have high visibility. Everyone is curious as to what she will do and how she will lead. Given that visibility, a strong positive start is essential.
- Establish key A-item priorities. Beyond early wins, you and your new leader will have agreed on the key priorities she will tackle and will have developed a clear picture of what success looks like. Ensure that you both have a laser-beam focus on these A-list items. Too often, leadership teams get distracted by the new “shiny object” and take their collective eye off the ball. It is critical that you help your new leader not fall into this trap. Make sure “needs” get addressed fully before allocating too much time and resources toward “wants”.
- Provide a learning environment. I have found this step to be one of the most important – yet least likely to be present in most companies. Your company is constantly changing and facing new challenges, requiring your leaders to develop and use new organizational muscles. Industry disruption, digital transformation, and retaining top talent are just a few that may be impacting you. Having an organization where leaders are encouraged to learn new skills, while sharpening their existing talents, is one way to ensure that your leadership team remains dynamic and prepared to face the challenges and uncertainties that are just over the horizon.
Your organization needs a strong team that isn’t afraid to lead and challenge the status-quo. And, remember, employees are watching , observing, and experiencing every leadership move. By successfully on-boarding your new hires, and making the process well-structured and supportive, you greatly increase the odds that your organization will be one that “swims” not “sinks”.
By: Tom Schlick