Sector News

The executive guide to onboarding yourself

August 4, 2016
Borderless Leadership

Onboarding used to be an afterthought (or a non-thought) with many companies. Most people’s experience with corporate onboarding reminds of the scene in Being John Malkovich where John Cusack watches a silly looking, amateurishly produced film about his new employer’s mythical founding.

Nowadays many companies have instituted formal, onboarding processes that are supposed to help them successfully integrate their new executives into their organizations. New executive employees arrive on their first day and find welcome emails and their calendars packed with a weeks of meetings with a wide range of peers, stakeholders, employees, HR representatives, etc.

A top down, wrong headed approach to onboarding

When you consider the costs of executive failure and the high rate of executives who leave their new jobs within 18 months of arriving (by some estimates), then the investments many companies are expending in myriad onboarding programs seems to make sense.

Unfortunately, these well-intentioned companies are trying to solve the challenge of executive retention with a top-down approach. Many of the executives who I’ve coached and/or placed have told me they that their new company’s onboarding process felt like a strange, foreign dance with lots of partners and lots of commotion but with little substance. They learned who the faces were in the org chart but the demands of their new job kept them from a deeper understanding of personalities and culture. And without that understanding their most important executive asset was haltingly or improperly deployed.

Your greatest asset

What is that asset? Influence mastery. Without influence mastery they can’t lead, they can’t manage up, they can’t gain the respect of their peers and key stakeholders and they ultimately find themselves looking for another job.

I’ve coached a wide variety of executives during their first 6 to 12 months with new employers. Our work together helped produce an onboarding process that helped them launch successful careers with long term results. As follows are some of the methods we employ to turbocharge their new jobs:

Your onboarding guide

  1. Build a personality file of the key people in your executive ecosystem. You’ve been a student of technology and business and, perhaps, your favorite hobby but have you become a student of human nature? Remember, your success will be built on your ability to influence others. If you’re not taking the time to study and record your impressions and evaluations, then you’re taking an ad hoc approach to the most important resources in your organization: its people.
  2. Keep a diary; particularly during your first 90 days. You don’t have to make daily entries — every 2 or three days should suffice. Events and projects and people are whizzing by during your first 3 months. If you’re diligent you’ll eventually have an amazing record of anecdotes, issues and events that will help inform your decisions about the future.
  3. Develop your own Board of Directors. Your job is incredibly complicated and demanding. You need a trusted group of people from your professional and personal network who you can call upon for their opinions and perspectives. One of them might be a great vendor manager, another might be a human resources executive, a third could be a CFO, and so on. You get the idea. Investing the time to build strategic relationships is something you’ll never regret.
  4. Learn to encourage difficult conversations. That might seem like a “No duh” type of statement but if you believe — as I do — that excellent executives are problem solvers then it follows that you’re more likely to discover problems in the company when you’re asking the right questions enough times to uncover inefficiencies, incompetence and negligence. Most people avoid confrontation because they want to be liked. Or, at the very least, they don’t want to be disliked. If you’re avoiding difficult conversations because you’re the new executive on the block and you don’t want to alienate your boss or team or peers, then you’re shortchanging your company.

Influence mastery is a learnable skill

Influence is a lot like sports. Many of us play sports, but few of us take the time and expend the energy to truly master them. Many of us play at influence but few of us take the time to study human nature and expend the effort to develop mastery. Some people are born with more hitting or catching or running talent and some people are born with more influence talent. They’re more empathetic and intuitive by nature.

However, there are certain basic skills that we can develop if we care enough about our careers, the people in our companies and our customers. There’s no better time to start the journey than during your first year with a new employer.

By Louis Gerzofsky

Source: CIO

comments closed

Related News

November 26, 2023

The challenge for HR of supporting the squeezed generation

Borderless Leadership

There also needs to be an understanding of the toll that caring takes on the mental, and sometimes physical, health of the individual. The constant mental burden of ensuring that both children and the elderly are cared for needs to be recognised by managers, followed by an honest discussion with employees about how best to manage and support it.

November 19, 2023

Fake candidates, hallucinated jobs: How AI could poison online hiring

Borderless Leadership

Next year will see some kind of embarrassing calamity related to artificial intelligence and hiring. That’s according to Forrester’s predictions for 2024, which prophesied that the heavy use of AI by both candidates and recruiters will lead to at least one well-known company to hire a nonexistent candidate, and at least one business to hire a real candidate for a nonexistent job.

November 11, 2023

In praise of the middle manager

Borderless Leadership

Management is a task most of us simply learn on the job—and those jobs are changing at a rapid speed. Now, it’s more common to talk about learning mindsets and skills training as if leadership is yet another talent you have to develop yourself.

How can we help you?

We're easy to reach