Onboarding helps managers and leaders make an impact on their teams
When first appointed, many managers and executives have a mix of excitement, exhilaration and a bit of anxiousness about their new role. It is good to have a bit of anxiety and some adrenalin to stay alert to all the signals, information and intelligence about their new role, hence the value of onboarding.
Onboarding is the process of introducing a new team member, manager, leader or another role-player into an existing or new team. Onboarding needs careful thought and planning to be executed successfully. How a team leader, manager or executive (or even a board member) gets introduced, or introduces themselves to their new team, can sometimes make or break their impact in that team. In many cases, it certainly determines how soon they can start making a positive impact as a team member or leader.
Below are a few highlights of what we must consider when we start working with a new team or at a new organisation. These carefully selected reflective tips and questions are often used by business coaches to assist high-level executives seamlessly start working with their new teams.
These tips and questions vary in emphasis depending on each organisational scenario or situation, and executives or managers can use some and not necessarily all of them.
1. Who am I? How do I define and describe myself in everyday interactions? For example, when I introduce myself to others, what do I mention first or highlight about myself?
2. What are my core strengths, especially relating to this new role? Why me? Justify to self, first.
3. In my new role, what am I going to be doing on a daily basis (job specification/description)? I am aware that I will need to understand what I am doing and speak to my senior/team about it.
4. What is the low-lying fruit that I must pick first, for example team members who I already know well? 5. Who exactly is in my team? What do I know, or need to know, about each one of them beyond CVs?
6. What are my team's strengths? What are the gaps? What new ideas do I introduce; when and how?
7. Who else do I report to? Who will be responsible for verifying my work; who is in authority?
8. What are the critical areas of my performance? What are my key performance areas and why? This is necessary to deploy your strength successfully.
9. What is it that I cannot do without early on - those things I need to execute my duties, without which I cannot succeed.
10. What is it that I must stop immediately? For example, browsing the internet, social media habits, corridor chit-chatting, writing long email messages to my team or to individuals, holding long meetings, etc.
11. What are the rules of play I need to know now, in this place? For example:
What is the core business strategy? What is the organisational or team culture?
What is the shadow culture? What existing patterns
and behaviours need to be stopped now? What are the team's values? What are the informal rules and values? Who are the opinion makers? Who are the informal leaders, coaches and mentors? Who are the “workplace parents” and who are the “office children”? Time to empower everyone. What are the possible blind sides for leaders in this role? What new things do I need to introduce or do differently to inspire the team? What exemplary behaviours/patterns must I start modelling? For example, arriving at work earlier than before.
Other tips to help you find your feet in your new position include:
Do thorough research and read a lot upfront. What exactly is this new role I'm starting?
During the first few weeks avoid offering opinions. Ask more questions to become informed.
Learn from others and share your experiences in a measured manner. Do not smother others.
Notice - who are the key stakeholders in my operating environment?
Notice - who relies on my or my team's performance to deliver on theirs?
Notice - who do I need to impress the most?
Notice - “headline stories” that team members are eager to share are not always accurate.
Notice - loud-speakers. Take everything you hear upfront as just input; nothing is the truth.
Read every HR file on your team members. Know their strengths and areas of development.
Be cautious around the eager beavers who have ready answers for every question you ask.
Avoid being ‘set-up' to appear to be supportive of a particular ‘group'. Check everything first.
Remain curious. Speak up firmly and ask incisive questions when others offer their views.
Not everyone will have your best interests at heart. Be decisive and firm when you need to be.
Who wanted your job/role in your team? You need to work with them. Can you? What is your plan or strategy to work well with them?
First nurture (protect) yourself. Manage your work energy and space carefully. Most new managers tend to take on too much in an effort to impress new bosses. Do not volunteer too much. Limit your other involvements to stay focused until you fully grasp your new responsibilities. This includes your non-work-related engagements.
Find a sounding board. For example, work with a mentor or coach to help you settle in and excel.
Push yourself to your performance limits. Show up and be at your very best.
Be awesome now; do not put your greatness on hold. Take from these lists what is useful for you and your situation. Use whatever is relevant to you and enjoy your new adventure.