Senior leadership often has huge impact on the company culture, the team, clients/partners and overall business. Yet a solid induction/on-boarding plan for newly joined senior leader in the first 60-90 days is often not done well at many companies. Why is it so?
They brilliantly pass the interview process
First senior leadership candidates often pass the interview process with flying colours so you might make the incorrect assumption that he/she only needs minimum on-boarding and could become fully operational shortly. It is true that they may have the expertise, know the industry well, have a lot of relevant experiences (hey, that’s why he/she is hired in the first place). However, they still don’t know how your business works, or how your team works, their respective strengths/weaknesses, processes, internal communication framework, templates etc… Every company is different
It takes effort from the Entire senior leadership team
To on-board a senior leaders, you need many other senior leaders’ help (even the CEO/MD of the company) and this is the tricky part. Most of them are extremely busy doing their own work, hence it is very easy for them to see on-boarding another senior lead as add-on to their core job, especially if the new senior lead scope of work is not very related to theirs. It is very easy and tempting to prioritize your own “urgent and important work” vs on-boarding.
They may not ask questions
I guess it’s human behaviour that when we join a new organisation, we want to “show off” a bit and “prove ourselves”. So if the company/your team doesn’t have the culture of feeling alright to ask “stupid” questions, your new senior lead may not want to ask questions either. Asking questions could be seen as a sign of weakness and be perceived to carry real cost to those who asks, especially at senior level. What if people would wonder “who is that guy/gal?” “why doesn’t he/she know this and still be here?”
You end up with having a new joiner who needs knowledge and doesn’t want to ask, one of the worst combo.
I could go on and on regarding real issues that could happen but let’s switch gear and discuss the practicality of how to make it work:
Key objectives and outcomes of the on-boarding plan
It’s important that the line manager finalizes the key objectives and outcomes of the on boarding plan beforehand to ensure that every item on the on boarding plan is there for a purpose. Try to balance both relationship building “meet and greet” sessions with knowledge sharing sessions. For knowledge sharing session, it’s critical that you customise the knowledge sharing session based on the individual senior leader’s need, to make sure time is being spent wisely.
Get buy in from All of key members of the on boarding team
Things won’t go as plan 🙂 your current on boarding team would have other new priorities that demand their attention. Hence, it’s very important to meet them before hand, face to face if possible or over video call to ask them to prioritize the on boarding activities. I have always found that if I ask someone directly vs sending an email, asking directly is way better.
Also explain to your existing team members what you want them to share with the new senior lead because literally, there could be millions things that they talk about. For example, recently when we have a new practice lead for one of the key markets joining us, a member of analytics team asked me what I want him to share with the new practice lead, especially they are not working in the same practice.
I mentioned that the reason I want the new practice lead to meet with a relatively more junior team member of another team is for him to appreciate the depth of our talent, the passion and desire to do world class work, not only in his practice but in other practice as well. And that is crucial, especially at the early days.
Keep track of the plan (30/60/90 days) and re-prioritize meetings as you go along
Things would change for sure and people would start to cancel or request to change the timing of those induction meetings. Be persistent and ask your team to reschedule if needed.
New team members are often very diplomatic when asked about their on-boarding experience so it is very important to check against the plan what has been done and what has not.
In the next 45 – 90 days I often schedule at least 1 catch up per week to help to answer any questions the new team member would have and ask about their experience so far. Ask for something that is not what they expected before joining and be open to listen to them.
What do you think? Feel free to share your experience below or email me.