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
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
Hiring has exceeded pre-pandemic levels in many markets and the shortage of skilled executives has put pressure in the increasing competition for top talents. If you have specialized and high-demand skills, for example on ESG, sustainability or bio-research, and a solid record of experience, you are well positioned to negotiate your salary.
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The tendency towards underconfidence can also lead us to needlessly (and endlessly) search for ways to gain influence when what we really need is to get better at recognizing the influence we already have. In this piece, the author offers three suggestions for becoming more mindful of the influence you have already but don’t always see.