On January 20, 2017, Donald Trump makes history as the first US President to take the oath of office with more Americas disapproving him than having confidence in his ability to truly “make America great again.” News outlets call out a perceived lack of preparation by the transition team on matters of National Security and Healthcare and Americans have expressed uncertainty about cabinet selections who are feared to be unqualified and rife with conflicts of interest.
While pundits and Facebook feeds across the country have strong opinions about Donald Trump’s transition, you can help new managers earn much higher approval ratings at the office if you follow these tips.
“Leaders must be close enough to relate to others, but far enough ahead to motivate them.” John C. Maxwell
1. Prepare your new leader well
Your business has a back story and the leader needs to know.
Unless your business is starting from scratch, there’s bound to be critical history of info that your new hire needs to know about the people and culture of your company. When you invest the time to catch them up to speed, be honest about not only the structural components of the business but also the key players and personalities they’ll be working with within the staff. This helps a person get acclimated in an honest way that’s not always divulged in the interview process.
Set aside time to catch the leader up on the last three years of your company. What were the highs and lows? Who are the key players? What goals and initiatives are in progress?
2. Develop effective relationships
Less than half of all US employees are engaged at work and poorly developed relationships are partly to blame.
People love doing business with people they like – and a happy staff is a productive one. Companies who successfully on-board new leaders make proactive attempts to spark chemistry between team members. Why are relationships at work important? And why is it so critical that mutual respect and communication be established early on? It’s all about building trust. There’s a direct link between employee engagement and poor communication from management and when I work with companies who aren’t meeting their goals, the biggest breakdown I find is lack of confidence either up the chain or down. There’s a lot to be said about getting to know employees, their motivations, their capacity for growth, and their personal interests. When a person knows you care about them, they’re more receptive to feedback and you’re more inclined to be honest and with them.
New leaders should take every opportunity they can to establish trust and rapport with colleagues. Understand their self motivations, validate them, and encourage open communication on an on-going basis.
3. Clearly define success
Bad hires are expensive. It’s costly to fire them and even more costly to keep them around.
Whenever I work with a client who is looking to onboard new talent, the first question I ask is a simple one that means the most: “What does success look like in this role?” There can be many answers to that question but regardless if you address KPIs, deliverables, or culture fit, your new leader should know how they’re being assessed.
Imagine a company that has no roadmap for their leader and no milestones… what is the leader expected to do in his first 90 days? When you don’t have a plan, you don’t know what progress looks like. You can spend 90 days figuring out that the employee isn’t a good fit and another 365 trying to figure out what to do about! By then, your sunk costs have skyrocketed and costs go beyond just employee salary and benefits and include poisoned culture and low morale.
Establish a job description that truly reflects the position and draft a list of weekly and monthly goals that person should be accomplishing for themselves. Additionally, draft goals for his or her department and be sure everyone knows their responsibility in the execution of those goals.
4. Set checkpoints and milestones
As your new leader transitions into their new role, there will be a lot of change and new things to learn. How do you plan to keep track of it all? Establish checkpoints but be sure to carve room out in busy schedules to discuss these milestones with honest feedback.You should want to give feedback because that helps you know what’s going on in your business and how close your leader is to achieving previously discussed goals. Employees crave feedback because they need to know if they’re doing the right job.
Work alongside your new leader to set SMART goals for the position. Establish reasonable checkpoints and be sure to hold to your commitment.
In summary, there are many ways to improve leadership transition and with a little bit of planning and stick-to-it-ness, you can easily implement them. Prepare your new leader with back story, acclimate your team with one another, and be vigilant with goal setting and feedback.