Clear Views Blog

Insights and strategies around creating cultures of engagement

New Leader Onboarding: Time to Go Back to School

"Everyone and everything around you is your teacher."- Ken Keyes, Jr.


It's that time again, time when the kids go back to school. With both of my boys now in high school, this is not a new drill for me. Yet, every year is different. There are new teachers, new students, new attitudes, and new chances to learn. For most kids, there's an excitement to going back to school—a sense of hope and optimism.

 

And being new at something can also make one vulnerable—Will I make friends? Will I like my history teacher? Will I have any classes with my best friend? Will I get teased?

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Onboarding New Leaders: Success vs. Failure

"Lead, follow or get out of the way." - Laurence J. Peter

It's a well known story. A valued senior leader gets promoted. He was promoted based on a track record of success. But a funny (albeit not really funny) thing happened to this leader after he was promoted, he failed. He never thought it could happen, after all he knew the company really well and he was well liked. His performance had always been strong, so where did he go wrong?

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Why Star Performers Fail Their First Year: 4 Tips for Success

Why is it when a super star leader is lured away from one company to the next, more often than not their performance suffers the first year?

In his recent book, Give and Take, Adam Grant tracks the research that teases apart the quantifiable impact of such a move. What is it about the knowledge these workers have that isn't immediately transferable? Or is it more of a case of adjusting to a new culture? Is there something the individual can do or the company can do to mitigate the negative impact of the move?

We care about the research because we see a many of our clients grapple with this performance and productivity challenge when they've hired brilliant new leaders.

Dr. Grant summarizes research that points to this conclusion:
* Our productivity is directly related to the processes and places we are used to working within. He points to a study of surgeons who work in different hospitals. Regardless of the number of times they do the same procedure, it's the continuity of location and staff that positively correlate with best results.

When we change the environment, we become disoriented, as it were. And it takes us, even as smart and brilliant as we are, time to catch on, to find our natural pace and recreate our support teams and resources. Which raises the second point from Grant's research synthesis:
* Looking at the field of financial analysis, "star analysts did maintain their success ... if they moved with their teams."

Which points to the imperative that new leader onboarding, the process of orienting new hires into the culture and company, should incorporate team development sooner rather than later. Not just the forms and software they need to know to get by, but the establishment of relationships that will foster shared learning and insights about the best ways to get things done AND new ways that may improve how we do things.

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