On­board­ing helps man­agers and lead­ers make an im­pact on their teams

Public Sector Manager - - Contents - *Dr Ma­gadlela is an ex­ec­u­tive coach and se­nior mem­ber of fac­ulty at The Coach­ing Cen­tre. He is also a pro­gramme man­ager in the Pan African Ca­pac­ity Build­ing Pro­gramme based at the Devel­op­ment Bank of South­ern Africa.

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.

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