You want to be a contributor but you’re new to the team. You know you need to prove yourself; you need to work your way up slowly.
Becoming a member of any new team can be daunting, especially if you will be onboarding into your new job virtually. Demonstrating your capabilities and creating confidence with your new team members takes more effort than if you could work side-by-side and in person daily.
Just like in Little League, YOU know you have the skills, experience, and knowledge to help the team. But you need the coach and your teammates to recognize your greatness.
It’s the same for new executives and/or top leaders.
Although they have “made it”, there are times these new leaders wait for the “coach” to tell them what is needed, expected, planned, required. The ‘ramp-up time’ is a bit slower than it was in the non-remote-based world.
As a CEO or other top executive, I invite you to both consider and understand the opportunity and “step up to the plate” immediately to see what your new team member needs. Don’t make the mistake of leaving those new hires sitting on the bench waiting to make a difference.
What this means is that when you bring a new hire into your organization, ensure that you have a robust onboarding program in place that is no less than 30 days in length. Schedule regular check-ins with your new hire. Be available to facilitate meeting with their peers.
As a leader, you know that recruiting is one of the hardest things to do when you’re looking for that “just right” person to fill a void. Why would you risk losing them early in the relationship? Give them what they need from the start. If you have a new player on your team, engage with them fast and deliberately. If you have team members who have been around for a while, be sure that these new team players engage with them intentionally, both formally and informally.
Additionally, if your new team member is in a leadership position recognize that it’s a fact, that as executives climb the ladder in any organization, they become less likely to receive performance feedback necessary to make needed adjustments to their ‘game’ on more than just a yearly basis. (Read the McKinsey & Company report about this.) Gone are the days where these successful leaders have mentors and bosses above them to monitor their progress, give them ideas to ponder, and plod them along into continued greatness.
They now have very few people that they feel they can talk to. They are left alone to celebrate their successes and alleviate their fears and self-doubt. No one is there to play the “ what if” strategy game with them. Nor is there anyone to offer them the vital criticisms needed to advance their professional journey. At this stage in their careers, most, if not all people they deal with daily, are subordinates. They become isolated from the constructive criticisms and coaching they “grew up” on. Only the top of the top can turn this around…and SHOULD!
The Journal of Management wrote, “Based on theory, we know feeling appreciated by another person sends a strong signal that you are positively regarded, and feelings of positive regard evoke a sense of vigor — or high energy.” This validation is not limited to a specific title or salary range.
EVERYONE wants feedback and everyone wants to be appreciated.
But it’s not your fault.
CEOs and heads of large organizations are often brilliant strategists. They usually are creative geniuses. They are normally NOT effective managers.
Strengthening “soft” skills is one area that top leaders need to investigate and become better at. Reaching a hand down to the next in line and offering to open up about life at the top can make a huge difference in company structure and performance. “It’s lonely at the top”…but it doesn’t need to be! Likewise, those who serve directly under you need you to provide them with the very interaction and communication you are lacking.
This desire to connect doesn’t stop with the top executives. While it’s non-traditional and highly unusual for a top leader or executive to seek affirmation, leaders gain momentum when their employees weigh in with appreciation and communication. In a recent article in USNEWS, in a study dealing with executives and “bosses” done by the Professor of Business Ethics at the University of Central Florida, Maureen Ambrose stated her study found, “On days supervisors felt more appreciated, they had more energy, and this translated into higher levels of optimism, life satisfaction, job satisfaction and helping.”
This just goes to show that we are all human and just want a little attention and guidance!