I recently had a conversation with a friend of mine who we’ll call Mary, who mentioned how one of her new female executive co-workers who we’ll call Jan, was struggling with engaging with her new team. Mary said things like:
- “I hope Jan can pull it together. I’m really worried about her success with our company.”
- “Jan’s team doesn’t understand where she is coming from.”
I asked my friend, “What type of leader onboarding or assimilation does your company do for your new executive leaders?”
Mary laughed and said, “What? What does that mean?”
I said, “When new leaders join your organization, does anyone spend time working with the team and the leader on assimilating the leader or is that left to the leader?”
Mary was thoughtful and said, “No. As a matter of fact, once a new leader has been hired, we pretty much leave them alone to run their own show. That’s why we hired them. We assume they have experience and demonstrated results, you know. The works”.
Everything Mary shared made sense. And yet, sometimes letting a leader and new team form ‘on accident’ could be a mistake. So, I asked Mary a few more questions.
- “What do you know about Mary?”
- “What don’t you know that you would like to know about Mary?”
- “What do you think Mary knows about her team?”
- “What does the team think Mary expects from them?”
- “What does the team expect from Mary?”
After these few questions, Mary said, “Oh, I think I understand where you’re coming from. These sound like conversations that haven’t happened and may never happen. Which potentially leaves everything up for assumption.”
I said, “Yes, you’re right.”
Mary then said, “You know what? I’ve been leading my team for three years and I’m not sure that I or my team know what the answers would be to these questions. And, I’m sure that my organizational results could be better.”
I responded with, “Would you like to find out?”
The point of sharing this story is that most organizations expect immediate results from leaders when they are hired. If your business is not consciously thinking about and/or investing in onboarding and assimilating new leaders and their teams, your business may not be experiencing the immediate results you expect.
My guidance to organizations in this very complex world is to slow down, just a bit, and allow your leaders and their teams to get to know each other for a moment so that the business results are achieved … at a much quicker rate than you’re experiencing today.