New em­ploy­ees give fresh ideas

The Star (Kenya) - - News Business -

Last week I high­lighted a re­cent ar­ti­cle by Richard Jolly, Ad­junct Pro­fes­sor of Or­gan­i­sa­tional Be­hav­iour – Happy at the Top.

In it, Jolly sug­gests that mod­ern CEOs find that the tal­ents they used to reach se­nior po­si­tions are not the only one they need for suc­cess at that level. Nor can mod­ern CEOs be­have like Moses on the Mount. But it doesn’t help that when you’re the CEO, peo­ple come to you for guid­ance. What do you say when you don’t have the an­swers but you’re still ex­pected to re­spond?

“Pub­licly, you might need to say some­thing that shows con­fi­dence. But in your­self, if you’re an in­tel­li­gent leader, you have to stay with the com­plex­ity, the not know­ing. That’s un­com­fort­able,” says Prof Jolly.

As F Scott Fitzger­ald put it: “The test of a first-rate in­tel­li­gence is the abil­ity to hold two op­posed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still re­tain the abil­ity to func­tion.”

In my work with or­gan­i­sa­tions across the re­gion, I help CEOs to cre­ate in­ter­nal en­vi­ron­ments where ev­ery per­son can con­trib­ute their ideas and en­thu­si­asm. That’s what the best busi­nesses to­day are do­ing, and I be­lieve that’s what will in­creas­ingly drive their suc­cess in the fu­ture.

The best ideas of­ten hap­pen fur­thest away from the CEO’s of­fice, be­cause that’s where peo­ple are more com­fort­able to take risks and ex­per­i­ment – away from the pol­i­tics of the board­room.

I also find that it’s of­ten the peo­ple en­ter­ing the or­gan­i­sa­tion who tend to lead the change. But cap­i­tal­is­ing on the fresh per­spec­tives and lack of or­gan­i­sa­tional anx­i­ety in new joiners re­quires that CEOs act quickly. That is why ev­ery new staff mem­ber needs to be ‘On­boarded’ within 30 days.

By on­board­ing I mean a stan­dard­ised pro­gramme that equips new joiners with the in­for­ma­tion they need to be­come pro­duc­tive within the first month. Learn­ing about the 4 Cs: Cul­ture. How we do things around here. Clar­ity of role. How to shape your own con­tri­bu­tion. Con­nec­tions. Who you need to know for easy col­lab­o­ra­tion. Com­pli­ance. How we ex­pect you to be­have.

If that on­board­ing process con­vinces new joiners that they are free to pro­pose change, then the only other thing you need to do is to coach them. As a CEO, you will find that even ‘light touch’ coach­ing will build the con­fi­dence of the new em­ployee and un­lock his or her fresh per­spec­tives. I have seen this work very well sev­eral times this year in com­pa­nies where key ap­point­ments have been made. In each case, the CEO made sure that each new re­source un­der­stood the rea­sons for their ap­point­ment and their ex­pected con­tri­bu­tion. Then, in the first six months, there were a num­ber of ‘So, what do you think?’ meet­ings. What a re­fresh­ing change, for both staffer and CEO.

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