• WisBusiness

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

On boarding and organizational biology


By Pamela Atwood
Joining an organization, or a new a new company business unit from the outside, possesses a unique set of challenges. Transitions are necessary, given companies, at times possesses a limited internal candidate pool for senior leadership positions. Or they may just need a new set of eyes. In some organizations, the new role is ill defined, the politics confusing and the structure fuzzy.

Organizations spend lots of money and time finding and selecting their next leaders. Due to the amount of resources utilized, companies must utilize successful on-boarding strategies. The time to start is during the interview process to ensure proper alignment of the person and interview process. Leaders, if welcomed into a supportive environment, will produce quicker results and are less likely to leave in a quick manner.

Organizations, just like the amazing human body; possess their own" immune system". Michael L.Watkins does an excellent job of explaining this in his book, Your Next Move (Harvard Business Press.) Michael states, "the organizational immune system is ready to isolate and destroy outsiders who seek to introduce "bad ideas". " Companies, like the human body, have an equilibrium state. For example, when systems are working well, they prevent damage. Conversely, if a system is working t too well, positive people, successful strategies and ideas can be easily expelled.

As an executive recruiter, I see three early on- boarding success strategies. First, have a clear understanding of success expectations and that you are comfortable with them. Once hired, ask questions, verify and verify again. Even if you felt you have a clear pictured painted for you during the interview process. The recruiting process is much like dating before marriage. Both parties naturally have their best foot forward. The perceived interview expectations may slightly alter or look different once hired.

Second, immediately gain an understanding of their micro culture and remember that at a deeper level, lies a less visible set of organizational norms, only to be discovered after some time has elapsed. These "deeper norms", define, to its members, the "way the world (organization) works". Third, identify key stakeholders and forge connection based on shared interested. You need to build trust and credibility with these individuals. Ask your direct supervisor or human resource director for a list of people, if not provided one.

Remember, you have ninety days to pave your current and future performance path. The President of the United States has one hundred days. This initial ramp-up time, set the tone and tempo for the duration of your employment at this company and possibility others in the future. It is difficult to alter once set, so chose well and be prepared.

-- Atwood is president of Atwood Associates LLC, a Madison-based executive search, recruiting and consulting services firm.

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