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Manage new job early warning signs at 3 stages of exec onboarding

June 13, 2016
Borderless Leadership

40% of new leaders fail in their first 18 months in a new role. Generally that’s because of poor fit, poor delivery or poor adjustment to changes down the road. Manage this by paying more attention to the basics of executive onboarding and responding appropriately to the early warning signs at three critical stages:

I) From Before First Contact Through Accepted Offer – Warning Signs:

  • For candidate: Poor initial impressions of people and the organization; miss-alignment of expectations and strengths, motivation and fit; challenging negotiations.
  • For organization: Poor initial impressions of candidate; miss-alignment of strengths, motivation and fit; concerns about what and how candidate negotiates.

II) Fuzzy Front End Between Acceptance And Start – Warning Signs:

  • For new leader: Organization goes dark, not contacting new leader.
  • For organization: New leader goes dark, focuses on other things, not open to pre-work or onboarding help.

III) Day 1 And Early Days – Warning Signs:

  • For new leader: Boss absent, not supporting, not helping; downside surprises in strategic, operational or organizational strengths.
  • For organization: New leader moving either too fast in taking charge or too slow in building relationships, learning, accelerating strategic, operational, organizational processes and delivering culturally appropriate early wins.

Organizational Executive Onboarding Basics

For the boss and the organization thinking in terms of aligning, acquiring, accommodating, assimilating and accelerating new leaders can go a long way.

  • Align: Agree on the need for a new team member and the delineation of the role you seek to fill as well as strengths, motivation and fit requirements.
  • Acquire: Identify, recruit, select and get people to join the team in a way that communicates the right things about the organization.
  • Accommodate: Give new team members the tools they need to do work, investing in their Fuzzy Front End and Day One experiences.
  • Assimilate: Help them join with others so they can do work together investing in active introductions to key people.
  • Accelerate: Help them and their teams deliver better results faster accelerating through their first 100-days and beyond.

New Leader Executive Onboarding Basics

As a new leader, get a head start; manage the message; set direction; build the team; sustain momentum; deliver results.

1. Get a head start. Accelerate progress by getting a head start and hitting the ground running. Preparation in the days and weeks leading up to Day One breeds confidence; and a little early momentum goes a long way.

2. Manage the message. Everything communicates. Choose and guide what others see and hear, and when they see and hear it, rather than letting happenstance or others make those choices for you. Start this process with your current best thinking before Day One and adjust steadfastly as you go along.

3. Set direction. Build the team. The first 100 days is the best time to put in place the basic building blocks of a cohesive, high-performing team. Create the organization’s imperative with the support and buy-in of your team. As a team leader, your own success is inextricably linked to the success of the team as a whole.

4. Sustain momentum. Deliver results. While the first 100 days are a sprint to jump-start communication, team building and core practices, it’s all for naught if you then sit back and watch things happen. Evolve your leadership, practices and culture to keep fueling the fires you sparked and deliver ongoing results.

Responding To Warning Signs

Step one is to notice the warning signs. Hopefully this article will help you see them.

Then triage the situation:

  • If the warning sign is no big deal on its own, don’t react. But do file it away as a data point for the future.
  • If it signals a manageable or mission-critical risk, manage the situation and the risk appropriately, getting and providing incremental support to mitigate the risk.
  • If it signals an insurmountable risk, cut your losses either stopping the onboarding process or redirecting the new leader in a different direction.

By George Bradt

Source: Forbes

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