40% of new leaders are fired, forced out or quit within their first 18 months because of either poor fit, poor delivery, or poor adjustment to changes down the road. If you’ve made missteps in any of those areas and you choose to hit the restart button, figure out what you missed, build or rebuild relationships, and then double down on delivering results together.
This is particularly applicable if you are one of the more and more people opting to work remotely. If so, you need to work even harder at establishing and maintaining relationships, pulling people together to deliver results as a team, and staying informed so you can adjust to the inevitable changes.
Fit missteps happen with either a real or perceived difference between your individual preferences and the preference of various individuals you work with, in aggregate forming the organization’s culture. In an ideal world, you would have compared those as part of your due diligence and figured out if they were aligned, different and manageable, or different and insurmountable.
BRAVE is a useful tool for doing this:
If you didn’t do that, do it now. If the real differences are insurmountable, there’s little you can do.
On the other hand, if the differences are just a matter of perception, you might be able to recover.
This most likely happened because you failed to converge into the culture before trying to evolve it. This is what leads to most change agents’ failures.
If, as Drucker told us, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast,” it erodes change agents bit by bit and piece by piece every moment of every day. Inertia is a powerful force. People tend not to like change. Even those that do, want others to change and don’t want to change themselves. And they are most definitely going to resist an outsider who doesn’t understand them telling them they need to change.
People that failed to build key relationships and fail to become part of the team and organization can recover if they own their mistake, ask for forgiveness, and do what they should have done in the first place – ask for help in learning about the culture and then demonstrate a real desire to partner with others and become part of their team and organization.
Delivery missteps generally flow from gaps in strengths, motivation or fit.
If you don’t have the strengths to do the job you’re in, you need to get into a new job either in your current organization or in a different one. If you sense that’s the case, others have figured that out too. Move fast.
The same is true if you don’t care about the mission of the job you’re in. Move fast.
And we’ve already talked about real fit differences.
If you do have the strengths to do your job and do care about the mission and are not delivering, it’s almost guaranteed that the issue is your working relationship with someone else. The fundamental difference between being able to deliver results in your previous job in your previous organization and in this job in this organization is the different people you have to work with. You must must must build new relationships with them in the context of the new organizations culture before you can get anything done together.
Things change. As they do, figure out if the change is major or minor, with a temporary or enduring impact.
- Don’t get distracted by minor changes with temporary impact
- Evolve through minor changes with enduring impact
- Manage major changes with temporary impact as the crisis or opportunities they are
- Hit a restart button if the change is major and enduring
The most dangerous changes are the ones you don’t see. This is yet one more reason why relationships are so important. You need others to help you see the changes.
The root of all executive onboarding missteps is poor relationships
If you’ve been paying attention, you’ve noticed that poor relationships and cultural misfit are the same things, that poor relationships are a primary causal factor in poor delivery, and poor relationships are a fundamental barrier to seeing and adjusting to change.
Converging before evolving is all about building relationships. If you’re an executive onboarding into a new organization and there’s any feeling or hint that you’re in trouble, put all your attention into building or rebuilding your key relationships before trying to do anything else.
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