“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower” - Winston Churchill
A leader onboarding process has always been a bone of contention for organisations and many are still working to streamline it for ages. Acknowledging the dearth in understanding how to fine-tune this process, Dr. Pradnya Parasher conducted a RecruitTECH Masterclass - New Leader Onboarding on Day 2 of People Matters TechHR India 2021 where she shared her industry insights and tips for successful leadership transitions. Here are excerpts from the session:
‘New Leader’ Conundrum
Dr. Pradnya started off her conversation by discussing the challenges once the organisation onboards the leader. The five main points she highlighted were:
- Cultural Re-alignment - How will the leader connect culturally in the new setup?
- Peer level relationships - How can the leader build relationships with his new peers?
- Vision Thing - How can the leader articulate their new strategy and convey it?
- Pressure to win - How does the leader bring the winning mentality to the new team?
- Building a team - How can the leader re-build a new team?
Dr. Pradnya discussed that a leader comes with a different set of skills & ideas to the organisation. As per their research, they found three key pivotal areas that allow the new leader to hone themselves in the new environment:
- Strategy - The leader has to brainstorm over how they can lead the new division and inculcate their brand with a successful vision.
- Team - The leader contemplates the kind of team they have inherited and if they need someone new to be part of the existing team.
- Stakeholders - The leader assesses the senior leadership of the organisation from top to bottom to understand what works and whatnot.
- Learning - The leader has to motivate their peers and team members to upskill themselves.
By focussing on these points, the HR team can ensure that the new leader’s onboarding is comfortable & successful. This would help them to accelerate performances and set up the winning mentality.
How to manage personality & leadership transitions? - The Psychology
Personality plays an important role during the leadership transition in an organisation. A leader feels confident over their skills and strong points yet the same can have a derailing effect if the onboarding is not successful.
According to the Hogan Personality Assessment system, three factors help understand how a leader would be able to sustain in a new organisation -
- MVPI (Motives, Values, Preference Inventory)- This factor ascertains the leader’s motivations and cultural assimilations in a new environment.
- HPI (Hogan Personality Inventory)- This factor helps understand the strong points of the leaders and if any of them would harm them by the potential derailment.
- HDS (Hogan Development Survey) - This factor zooms right into the potentially harmful aspects of the leader which may come up due to stress and other factors.
Dr. Pradnya emphasised that “ Though leaders are hired for competency, they are fired for personality.” She also pointed out that many HPI and HDS factors can lead to potential derailment and hence the treatment of the onboarding process has to be vital.
New leader assimilation and coaching
Whenever a leader joins the fracas of a new organisation, certain expectations are kept from them to deliver. This can lead to stress and ‘derailment’ if not checked during the onboarding process.Hence a ‘new leader assimilation’ is quintessential for any organisation. A facilitated session that includes a coach would help the leader to assess the situation and this would allow the team to get to know their leader too.
Dr. Pradnya concluded her session by sharing that for the leader, discussing early wins with the team is important which would lead to a collective commitment to action. All this would also be possible with a coach, who will act as the resource for the leader to learn and reflect upon. Ultimately, the whole process is possible with a 90-day plan where the basics can be taken care of at the beginning. The onboarding process needs to be pre-planned even before hiring the leaders and it's prudent to keep the expectations clear with them. After all, employees don’t leave for money but because they didn’t get what they deserved.