Successful integration in 90 days
You’ve landed the desired job. It’s a challenge for you and you are excited! You have the skills, experience, expertise and qualities required. You see the future with enthusiasm and optimism. Accepting a new position in a new organization is usually an exciting event with new challenges and a new working environment to discover. Not to mention that this moment is often the culmination of great efforts and a demanding job search. Relieved, you tell yourself that the worst is behind you. But now is definitely not the time to slow down your efforts. Indeed, it is not always easy to adapt to new functions and to a new organizational culture. You are now confronted with an almost unknown universe:
· A new boss
· A new team
· New colleague
· A new environment
· A new structure
· A new vision
· A new political context
· A new professional life
Thus, keep the champagne on ice. Your strengths and experience may well be insufficient if you do not successfully integrate.
Several studies indicate that between 35 and 40% of employees recruited from outside the company do not meet the expectations of the organization and must leave less than a year after taking up their position.
Several other studies also claim that the first 100 days are crucial for a new employee to establish their credibility, build their legitimacy and predict their chances of success within the organization.
Your state of mind and behaviors can make all the difference in your first few weeks. From the get-go, remember these three premises for a successful integration:
o What made you successful with your previous employer is not necessarily what will work in your new position ?
o It is important to respect the procedures in place, to understand their ‘’raison d’être’’ before suggesting changes.
o Managing your interpersonal relationships is undoubtedly the most important aspect of your integration into a new work environment.
In this module, we offer you valuable tips, important strategies and the secrets of a successful integration into a new job.
No matter how confident you are about your new challenge, this reference document should stay with you for the next 100 days!
FACTORS OF A SUCCESSFUL INTEGRATION
The integration agenda
It is necessary for anyone who takes up a new professional position to carefully prepare an integration agenda.
Your interview strategies throughout the selection process will without a doubt have allowed you to learn a lot of things. You will have obtained valuable information about the context of your arrival in the company, the work environment, the issues and the main challenges. You will have accepted the job with full knowledge of these facts.
You must then plan your entry. Remind yourself that your goal is to succeed in your integration.
The question is simple: what do I need to do to be successful at my integration?
Based on the information you know, you have the opportunity, even before you start, to plan some of your first actions. For example :
The people you want to know:
o According to what I know, besides my boss, who could be key players in my integration? With whom do I have an interest in making myself known and showing my credibility quickly? For what purpose? What do I know about them? When would I like to meet them? As soon as I arrive? After a few days or a few weeks? In a formal or informal setting? How will I go about suggesting a meeting with these people? In what order should I meet them?
o You don’t know who they are? At least, identify the positions, functions or roles that they play within the company. From this information you may be able to find who they are by checking their profile on LinkedIn. And who knows, maybe you know someone in your contacts who could tell you about some of these people. If this is not possible, obtain the names of these key people as soon as you take up your new post.
The information you want to get:
o Prepare yourselves! Plan what you want to discuss, what information you want to validate or obtain. You may have the opportunity to meet these people sooner than you think.
In short, it is important to take charge of your integration, to anticipate events and to be proactive. You will come out of this a winner!
An integration agenda also means making sure you do the right thing quickly depending on the issues, the context and your role. Every situation is different. It is therefore up to you to define and plan the actions to take, the message to convey, the position to adopt. Here are some universal key points:
Make a good first impression
The first day is considered the most important of the 100 days when taking up on a new title. All eyes are on you. Every word, every gesture, every person encountered, every place visited, the duration and order of these moments convey a message. Your prep work will help you think through the scope and evaluate the consistency of these messages, regardless of your position.
Create momentum around a shared vision
Any manager will have an interest in quickly creating momentum around a strong and shared vision for their team. A clear and stimulating image of the future of the organization or department, in line with their mission and values.
As a new employee joining a team, you must make sure you know your leader’s vision, share yours, make sure you align and define your strategy to promote your success and theirs.
Put your vision and plans into action
Once the vision has been defined, it must be translated into a mobilizing strategy that allows the vision to be realized, taking into account the inevitable obstacles and the resources available. Your ideas, plans and strategies may seem inspiring to you, but it is through action that you will exercise your leadership and gain credibility.
Hit success quickly
No matter what your role is, your early successes help build your credibility. They strengthen your leadership abilities, your team’s trust in you and the level of comfort and confidence that your leader and key employees have in you. Quickly identify one or two challenges considered important but also accessible.
Quickly assess your team
It is rare to be able to build the ideal team in less than 100 days, but a manager will nevertheless have to take concrete actions to have the team he needs to carry out his mission under the best conditions. He will thus quickly assess each of his direct collaborators on the basis of three simple criteria:
o Skills level (current or ability to quickly acquire them)
o Level of commitment and motivation
o Level of goal integration (mission, values and vision)
FACTORS OF A SUCCESSFUL INTEGRATION
Quickly understanding the culture of the organization, its history, how it’s running and above all, the purpose of your position is essential.
Understanding the dynamics and the context of your arrival is just as important:
o Why was a change made, why were you chosen?
o Is it a transition mandate? A realignment? A springboard towards a future position?
o Is the company looking for long term stability?
o Was there anyone in-house who wanted this job?
o How will you be received?
o Since when has the post been vacant?
o What worked well during the previous reign?
o What went wrong?
o What is the work climate?
Finally, it is essential to position yourself in your new role:
o What are your strengths and talents, pitfalls and areas of vulnerability?
o Know the expectations from; the organization, your boss, your employees and / or co-workers
o Communicate your expectations to; the organization, your boss and your employees and / or co-workers
o Identify the results to be achieved in order to be successful (what).
o Choose the means and activities in order to achieve them (how).
o Set deadlines based on proposed benchmarks (when).
o Identify the resource people and the tools to use (with whom, what).
Build your credibility
Credibility within a team or an organization is not acquired simply because you have been chosen for the job. It is won. It is played on two fronts: relationship management and operational management.
o Understand the why and how of things before suggesting changes.
o Know how to make yourself known and appreciated.
o Be generous, collaborate and share your ideas.
o Gradually start showing your colours.
o Take your place but not the whole space.
Build a relationship with your boss
See your boss as your main customer and know their expectations of you:
– Get to know who they are and what their style is.
o What is their history within the company?
o What is their way to perceive, evaluate, decide?
o What is their leadership style?
o Who do they trust?
o Who are their allies?
o Who are those who have the most influence over them?
– Develop a partnership and a relationship of trust with your boss. They are looking for:
o An employee ready to share their vision, to collaborate, to stimulate and support them.
o A loyal and honest ally on whom they can count and who will know how to overcome their shortcomings with tact and discretion.
Build a relationship with employees (and key colleagues)
Take the time to meet individually with each of your employees:
o Take an interest in them first before talking about yourself.
o Know the motivations of each one, their aspirations, their strengths, their objectives, their values, their ideas, their visions.
o Talk a bit about yourself, your management style, your expectations.
o Observe reactions, have an attentive ear, show authenticity and transparency.
Also go around your key colleagues and collaborators within the company. Introduce yourself, take an interest in their work and try to better understand the culture and functioning of the organization through your discussions with them.
Develop a network
Developing your network, creating links within the company, knowing how to make allies and developing your circle of influence allowing you to exchange information, benefit from each other’s knowledge and build your reputation in a company.
o Identify a mentor who has known the company for a long time and who can guide you in the more “political” aspects of your job.
o Surround yourself with people you trust to help you think well.
o Know the informal networks that exist within the company: who advises who, who influences whom, who has informal power, who makes the final decisions?
o Learn to use legitimate and strategic ways to influence the course of things, get your ideas across, succeed, and increase your impact.
Manage the team
Know how to quickly decode the strength of your team, its color, its personality:
o Demonstrate your intention to take the time to fully understand everyone.
o Explain what your management style is.
o Clearly communicate your expectations.
o Assess the organizational climate.
o Identify the talents and strengths in your team.
o Identify weak links and take action quickly.
o Identify training and development needs.
o Identify informal leaders.
o Identify resistance to change, involve your employees.
o Give them missions; don’t hesitate to delegate stimulating jobs to them.
o Adjust your style and approach as needed:
o Show tolerance and flexibility when needed.
o Know how to be firm and rigorous when needed. You still have to achieve the objectives!
Your first action is to make sure that your team is functional and optimal. Tolerating laxity, half-hearted performance, and lack of effort will hurt your credibility.
Manage difficult situations
Whatever the situation, no matter how delicate, it is important to deal with it quickly, deal with adversity and take action. This is vital for your credibility, both with your superiors and with your team.
o Anticipate rather than react. Do not wait for the situation to become urgent or for someone else to address the situation for you.
o Consult to validate your strategy.
o Have the courage to act and make the decisions that are within your scope.
o Communicate and explain your decisions.
o Generate fast and high visibility results.
o Keep your organization’s goals in mind and take actions that will help them reach their goals faster.
o Give your best in what everything you do, not in what you like to do.
o Dare to initiate new actions that will lift your organization.
VALIDATE AND ADJUST
Having the right time! This is what is most important if you want to measure the success of your onboarding period. What cannot be measured cannot be managed! How will you know when you are in line with what is expected of you?
Don’t take it for granted that everything seems to be working fine. Ask for feedback regularly for the first 100 days. Priorities sometimes change quickly, and the boss often takes it for granted. Keep them informed of your actions, your progress, your initiatives and your results. Also ask for feedback from your employees.
If necessary, adjust and take the appropriate actions.
BEYOND YOUR SKILLS…
Beyond the technical skills for which you were hired, gravitates 16 elements on which you will perhaps be observed, judged, measured, evaluated. Not only during the integration period, but at all times.
o What are the priority elements according to the issues?
o What are the most important things for your boss? For your team? For your credibility?
o After a few weeks in the job, rate yourself on each of the 16 items on a scale of 1 to 10. Ignore items that do not apply to your situation.
o Identify your strengths and difficulties.
o Measure the gaps between your difficulties and the priority elements.
o Determine the steps to be taken to close the gaps with the priority items and take action quickly. A professional coach can help you with this.
o Repeat the exercise regularly. Expectations and priorities sometimes change rapidly within an organization. Bosses too
Remember that this tool is not only useful during a period of integration, but at all times during your mandate.
THE 10 MOST COMMON TROUBLES
Being chosen for a new position is always a great source of satisfaction. Proud and confident, we have no doubt about the series of pitfalls that await us in our new functions, especially in the first days of our new mandate. Studies show that more than a third of people starting a new job fail in the first 12 months.
Here are the ten most common pitfalls to avoid when starting in a new role.
Pitfall # 1: Waiting on the first day before getting started
We often overlook the fact that the success of a job start depends on the quality of preparation before the first day. Sometimes even during the final phase of a selection process if you know how to ask the right questions.
Pitfall # 2: Forgetting to listen
Very often, new responsibilities are taken on in an atmosphere of urgency and great pressure. Stakes and expectations are high. You quickly get a hold on your priorities and don’t want to waste time questioning your vision.
However, the new manager (or professional) often feels the weight of a savior’s mission at the risk of no longer bothering to ask and listen to the opinion of people more familiar with the reality of the situation. This is a common mistake and has disastrous consequences: vision blurred, poor priorities, team demotivation.
Pitfall # 3: Rushing
Again, in this context of big pressure and high expectations from all stakeholders, the new comer will sometimes have a tendency to rush into their decisions, guided by their desire to quickly leave their mark.
The other extreme, that of wasting time over-analyzing the situation, is just as dangerous. We must therefore find the right balance by identifying reliable sources of information, asking the right questions and being truly open to feedback, even if unsolicited.
Pitfall # 4: Setting the bar too high
Pumped up by their nomination, the tendency to set unrealistic goals for themselves and their team with a wish to strengthen their image as a winner is real. The risk of disillusionment is high, and it may become necessary to put unnecessary pressure on team members or peers. This will affect their cohesion and motivation. That way, credibility in the eyes of both employees and higher ups will be affected and the level of negative stress will increase.
Pitfall # 5: Hanging on to old ways
To get quick results, it can become easy to hang on to old behaviors, techniques and strategies that made them successful in the past. However, most of the time, they are no longer appropriate for the new function or context.
It is also common for people newly named as managers to have some difficulty letting go of their technical expertise. They stay in their comfort zone and get into technical details, over-control their teams and find it difficult to delegate.
Pitfall # 6: Staying in your ivory tower
Management books are full of testimonials to this effect: leaders must regularly go out into the field, meet the people, customers, suppliers and be fully in touch with the realities of the market. Professionals usually have to do this too. Yet how many of them, stuck in overloaded agendas, rely on indirect, filtered or even distorted information that they hear.
Nothing beats direct contact to get a feel of new issues, new opportunities, new threats, and check if the company’s vision is still on point, if it is well understood or if it is time to adjust.
Pitfall # 7: Not seeking for real feedback and not hearing about real facts
Most people actively seek for feedback in the market, in current programs, in results and organizational aspects. On the other hand, very few have an attentive ear for anything that touches their own personality or management style. Convinced that they must immediately show a strong and reassuring image, they don’t dare to – or don’t want to – hear comments or criticism about the way they lead or operate. Yet it is an essential validation strategy that allows you to adjust your aim if needed.
Pitfall # 8: Waiting too long to move people around
The need to build a strong and competent team is obvious. Putting it into practice is much less simple, for reasons related to the leader themself: lack of managerial courage, fear of looking bad, empathy, compassion. Too many bad reasons not to replace people who no longer belong in the team and need to be replaced with more suitable profiles.
However, it will be necessary to send out a strong signal to gain credibility, identify the weak links in the team and initiate appropriate action.
Pitfall # 9: Choosing the wrong priorities
It may seem obvious to focus all your attention and energy on the problematic elements. However, it is just as essential to closely monitor the elements that are going well, to show interest and recognition to the main players and collaborators of success. It is important to recognize the winners and to highlight their contribution. In doing so, it can have a positive effect on other runners in the back.
On a related note, it is a mistake to focus only on the big projects at the expense of the small ones. Smaller projects can sometimes quickly destroy cohesion and mechanics. Choosing the right priorities requires a certain flair, good listening skills, an openness to feedback and the ability to adjust quickly.
Pitfall # 10: Fail to balance the short-term and long-term
Of course, to establish your credibility and strengthen your team’s motivation, you have to quickly deliver results and successes. While keeping the overall goal in mind and aligning your actions with the long-term vision of your organization, identifying a few battles where victory is virtually already won is undoubtedly strategic.
However, many are concerned with the implementation of their long-term vision, thus neglecting short-term victories. The reverse is just as common: some leaders may be so obsessed with achieving quarterly goals that they forget to define and communicate a strong and inspiring vision, guaranteeing strong team cohesion and good performance on the job in the long-term.
Finding the right balance between the short-term and the long-term is an essential quality to move up in the hierarchy. Failure to manage this balance at the start of a new term can be fatal.
The start-up phase in a new position is delicate. The pitfalls are numerous, and we must be attentive and react quickly in the event of a slip. However, each pitfall has its antidote. The most important is undoubtedly careful listening, openness to divergent views and the ability to question oneself.