New Executives? Your company may have a “fish out of water” story on its hands. What is the process of acculturation (i.e. on-boarding) in place at your organization?
Commonly, when corporations send its top talent to other regions, including countries, to stretch the top performers’ abilities and learn how to adeptly be a Global Leader through international experience, the executives are offered two full days of cross-cultural coaching. This type of consulting is to prepare for the full immersion; or, in some cases, it is arranged for post-arrival.
In order to survive in a new work environment, it is imperative that prior to joining, you are aware of the climate. Now, with the help of Glassdoor.com, et al, insiders are providing glimpses of what the organizational culture is like for those on the outside looking to join.
Organizational Culture is a pattern of assumptions, values, and norms which are shared by organization members. Culture can evolve intentionally and unintentionally. (See Blog Corporate Primatology). By understanding a culture’s norms, we can work towards the desired outcome. This applies to understanding family cultures (the in-laws), national cultures (expats), and corporate cultures (employees).
Understanding the Norms
Norms are unwritten rules of behavior that guide what members of groups do and don’t do. Norms serve a need, such as group cohesion, and provide predictability. Predictability keeps most members feeling safe because they learn the nature of the “reward band.” A reward band is recognition, bonuses, promotions, favoritism, extended to those who behave accordingly.
However, norms are mostly unconscious and might not reflect actual written policies. They may also be contrary to whatever values the organization espouses to hold. This is why it is paramount that new members identify the norms as early as possible in order to avoid pitfalls and land mines.
Identify the Norm. “Around here, when it comes to _________ we ________.”
E.g. Around here, when it comes to “feedback,” we “handle it face-to-face discreetly” or “handle it in the hallway with a colleague” or “take it straight to Human Resources (HR),” etc.
Around here, when it comes to “working weekends,” we “regularly come in on Saturdays,” or “can work from home” or “have this reduced to just travel,” etc.
Around here, when it comes to “vacation/Paid Time Off (PTO)” we “are contactable by cell only for emergencies,” or “are not contactable” or “are always contactable,” etc.
- Analysis. Have an Organization Development practitioner conduct an analysis to determine your organizational culture. Norms should be mapped. (See What is OD? and Hellenistic Philosophy and Leadership).
- Accurate Portrayal. Have recruiters deliver a fair assessment of what kind of organizational culture the new employee can expect.
- Relo Help. Arrange for Relocation Assistance, if the new colleague relocated to the area. Relocation Assistance helps New Arrivals become familiar with the area (e.g. where to shop, DMV, places of worship, info on neighborhoods, etc).
- Retention Convo. Hold a retention/engagement conversation with the new employee. KeepPeople.com cards are a useful tool. The supervisor should review this every six months.
- Orientation. Deliver an on-boarding program which helps people understand the organizational norms AND avoid the pit-falls which have driven previous colleagues to leave.
- Lingo. Provide a list of acronyms and terminology that is part of the organizational language.
- Buddy. Assign a buddy or counselor, in addition to the Human Resource Business Partner (HRBP) on the first day. Have the HRBP meet monthly with the new colleague (this should be on the calendar).
- PDP. Develop a Professional Development Plan as a strategic document for the new colleague to understand what is expected of him/her.
- Intros. Set up meetings with key partners, vendors, clients, and co-workers as a way to introduce the new colleague into the organization.
- Team Retreat. Share team strengths and responsibilities with each other during a private lunch meeting, full- or half-day meeting – preferably off-campus. Psychometric tools and/or Organization Development exercises are useful for an accelerated bonding process.
- Evaluation. Disclose how the new colleague will be measured for performance management.
- NLI. Schedule a New Leader Integration process, if the new colleague has direct reports, within 60-90 days. Do NOT hold feedback until then; coaching must be timely and positively
Much like a plant being transferred from one location to another, the new colleague requires nurturing (i.e. compassionate coaching). This is fertile soil.
While no one can mandate a welcoming organizational culture, having a structured, transparent, and easy-to-find-resources work environment, will maximize retention.
Rossina Gil, MSOD, MAIS, is a Global Leadership and Organization Development Practitioner, and sits on the Advisory Council of the Insight Garden Program, a leadership program designed to promote rehabilitation for San Quentin penitentiary prisoners. Rossina is the founder of Corporate Looking Glass, LLC – a diverse consultancy of OD experts and strategic thinking partners. We increase retention. Visit CorporateLookingGlass.com.
© Rossina Gil, 2015
Posted on September 20, 2015, in Uncategorized and tagged Alignment, Brentwood, fish out of water, how to onboard, New Executives, norms, OITNB, On-Boarding, Organizational Culture, Reward Band. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.