Few things can help an individual more than to place responsibility on him, and to let him know that you trust him. —Booker T. Washington

Companies hire employees for their skills, experience, track-record and potential. And executives want new employee potential to be realized quickly to compete in today’s highly complex uncertain marketplace. Unfortunately, successful leaders in one context may not perform well in another without support from their managers. As new hires onboard to new roles, senior leaders are in the best position to facilitate ongoing learning and development. To help new employees expedite their integration and achieve their full potential, use the following four IZE principles to onboard and help new leaders learn.

1. Strategize. Think about what might serve the new leader best when selecting learning experiences to build future capability. Create a clear path (from here to there) to challenge the leader to do his or her best work. Rather than focusing on what you want this person to do today, focus on what will help the person achieve their potential and become successful in a year or two. When thinking about development experiences, use data such as results from assessments to identify where to gain greater self-awareness, identify blind spots and figure out needs for long-term success.

2. Customize and Personalize. Once you have insight about a new leader, remember that the most memorable learning experiences are ones that are specifically designed for each person. Consider differences in how people listen and learn as well as the written and unwritten rules of the culture. Rather than a one-size fits all approach, adapt to the needs of each new leader. Gear the learning to their needs, motivations and what will most accelerate their success. Even with traditional learning methods (classroom instruction, mentoring, e-learning modules), ensure that applications can be made to connect the work to what they do immediately. Use real-world examples from the leaders rather than offering hypothetical ones. It is much more important for a leader to apply and practice what they have learned than to merely read about what others have done.

3. Optimize. Make certain that time with a learner, whether one-to-one or in a group setting, makes the best use of the time. Get out of the habit of dumping data and rather focus on getting the leader to engage/talk. Make learning fun! Retention of content is directly correlated with how much a person engages with it. In fact, a recent medical school study found that action learning was much more effective for long-term recall of information than lectures. Consider projects that will put the new learning to use immediately and/or have the leader teach the content to others.

4. Recognize to Energize. One of the best ways to inspire new learning is to energize new leaders with recognition when they have been successful and do it quickly. Avoid waiting too long to acknowledge even small success. Since leaders are motivated differently, consider recognition methods most meaningful to them. While some might want a public pat on the back, others may value private acknowledgement of a job well-done. Other ways to recognize success is by sharing the stories others have told…share compliments.

To recap,
– be intentional about your onboarding purpose as you strategize,
– focus on the unique needs of each new hire as you customize their learning experiences,
– create practical, hands-on developmental opportunities to optimize learning, and
– celebrate quick wins to energize new hires.

Download our Onboarding Traps and Success Factors to help with your next new hire.

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