While planning in advance beats jumping right in, best of all is planning ahead and getting a head start.
The data is indisputable. Those that attend pre-school do better in elementary school, better in high school, and are 24% more likely to attend a four-year college. Getting a head start in onboarding into a new job has been one of the major contributors to reducing the rate of new executive failure from 40% to 10%.
The world record for a standing broad jump is just over 12 feet – far less than the record for a running long jump at just over 29 feet. Some would argue they are different events and the results are not comparable.
That’s exactly the point!
Instead of looking for marginal improvements in jumping off from a standing start, change the game and get a running head start.
Imagine I’ve been hired from the outside to be your boss. (Your worst nightmare.)
Let’s make it worse. Imagine you wanted the position yourself.
Now imagine I join the company, go through an orientation on day one, and then attend management meetings on day two. Day three I come by your office first thing in the morning and say, “How about lunch? Let’s get to know each other.”
How do you feel? I asked this question to one lady in Peru, and she said, “I hate you.” That’s a little extreme. Most people tend to feel guarded, trapped, or “not bad”.
Contrast that, if you would, with my calling you the day after they’ve announced my appointment, three weeks before I start and saying, “I know you were the leading internal candidate for the job. I’ve heard great things about you. I’d like to get to know you and work with you. It’s so important that I’m not prepared to wait until day one to get started on this. I will meet you anywhere in the world, any time you want over the next three weeks so we can spend some good time to start to get to know each other.”
How do you feel now? The lady in Peru said, “I love you.” While that was a little extreme the other way, most people suggest they are at least going to give me a chance. And this relationship gets a running head start before day one.
This works for meetings as well – especially when introverts are involved. If you ask an introvert to comment on something they are seeing for the first time, you’re putting them at a disadvantage. Their preferred way of processing new information is to mull it over for a while and think it through. Contrast this with extroverts like me who think with our mouths. We prefer to process new information by discussing it with others.
So, if you don’t give people pre reads before a meeting, you are hindering the introverts ability to contribute in the meeting. On the other hand, it makes no difference to extroverts who won’t read pre reading until the meeting itself. So, get a running head start in your meetings by sending out pre-reading to enable everyone to contribute to the conversation. (Remembering never to make big presentations in the meetings themselves.)
I focus on transition acceleration because onboarding is a crucible of leadership and where PrimeGenesis and I can make the biggest impact. But the lesson is applicable to all sorts of life situations from education to vacation planning to meeting management to crisis management. Sometimes you do get thrown right in to things and have to do the best you can from a standing start. Any time you can carve out some time to plan even a little, things go better. And, if you can plan and get a head start, things work best.
Don’t follow the normal rules. Change the game and give yourself the amazing advantage of a running head start.
By George Bradt