The door closes behind you. You look out the window, admiring this view of the city. For a minute you bask in the quiet. No phones ring, no keyboards click, no people talk in the background. You didn’t realize how loud, yet how comforting, those sounds had been. It’s strange being in the office with the other executives while everyone else still works from home. Transitioning to a new company in this climate was a big leap of faith, but you have a renewed excitement. You’re grateful for those that gave you key insights into the company, helped you understand the culture, and told you plainly what you’re up against. You’re ready. You take a deep breath and sit in the black leather chair. It’s time to get to work.
When it comes to onboarding new leaders, you want to do more than show them their office and make an announcement to the team. You want to instill confidence and set them up for early success. According to The Harvard Business Review, a recent survey revealed that 60% of VPs joining new companies reported that it took them six months “to have a full impact in their new roles.” In fact, 20% said it took them more than nine months. They believed this was due to a lack of support in their transition to leadership. To effectively bring on new leaders, you need to integrate them properly. This includes encouraging them to operate in ways that will quickly build trust between them and the team. Especially during today’s unsteady climate, you cannot afford to waste time while new leaders learn about your company’s culture, and your employees wonder if this is a leader they can follow.
When you onboard new leaders, make sure you are all on the same page about these three communication tactics:
You can build trust quickly and effectively when your leadership team is authentic during meetings and one-to-one phone calls. One of the results of COVID-19 is the disappearance of polished personas. We have realized how unnecessary it is and learned to appreciate seeing people as they truly are. Many appreciate raw, unfiltered, glimpses into others’ lives. Do you remember how exposed we felt when we began having Zoom meetings in our homes? Your coworker who knew very little about your private life was now sitting in your kitchen, hearing your dog bark in the room next door, and seeing your children run past you. At first, we may have felt uncomfortable, but it also leveled the playing field. We learned to adapt, to see each other as we truly were, to appreciate how each person balanced this strange work-from-home life. In many ways, we can’t go back. We may enter the office again, but the level of authenticity we reached at the beginning of 2020 can’t be undone. Moving forward, leaders will need to remain authentic, sharing a little bit more of who they are, expressing their emotions, and openly sharing information about the company.
Along with authenticity, it’s important to be transparent about where the company is, what struggles your industry faces, and how you need to adapt to a constantly changing environment. Trust is strengthened when your employees have a clear picture of what’s going on and are invited to be a part of the solution. Creativity, innovation, and key players reveal themselves when leaders are transparent about issues that demand a lasting remedy. When leaders honestly admit they have made a mistake, their employees will meet them with compassion and support. When you trust your employees can handle the truth and share it with them openly—whether good or bad—you’ll find they reciprocate that trust.
Along with COVID, racial injustice has been another issue our nation cannot ignore. Many of us have been humbled as we realize the impact passive racism has had on our neighbors, coworkers, and friends. No doubt, your company has taken a fresh look at the language, policies, holiday recognition, and cultural points of view used within your organization. This is good, necessary work to ensure every member of your team is heard, understood, and respected. To lead a diverse team well, you need to educate yourself on correct terminology and evaluate the messages you send to your employees and clients. Make a commitment to include men and women of different races, cultures, and religions in the way you lead and communicate.
For more tips on successfully onboarding new leadership, whether it’s an outside hire or an in-house managerial promotion, contact Front Line Leadership. Our in-person and online leadership programs are designed to improve communication, reduce conflict, and prepare supervisors to lead a team with excellence.