You’ve spent time identifying your interest, your skills, and your ideal environment. You understand your strengths, what you have to offer and a profile of what the organization you want to get into looks like. It’s now time to develop your plan.
Develop your targeted companies list
You should have your industries picked out by now. You’ll use that list plus items you discovered in your ideal environment study to target companies that fit your profile. Sites like zoominfo.com, ReferenceUSA, Glassdoor, and Linkedin can help you build a list based on your industry preference, company size, and geographical preferences. Your targeted list now becomes one of three avenues that you will pursue in landing your job.
Your targeted company list.
Job openings you find.
Proactively reach out to your targeted list to get to know them and show them the value you can add. Connecting with their employees, doing informal interviews, going to their events and job fairs are a few of the ways to connect with them.
Track your progress
You want to track your application statuses and set deadlines and expectations for yourself to ensure that you stay motivated and informed.
Job Tracker: I suggest creating it online so that you can reference it across multiple devices. Google Docs is one of the easiest to use. (It’s similar to Microsoft Word) Break this document into three sections.
Jobs applied to: List out the role title, the company, pay range if known, and date applied. Also, add in other contacts you made and when.
Said no: Move any applications to the no pile once you hear back. Leaving it in the applied section just clutters up what you have out there that is still an option. Delete out your No section from time to time so that it doesn’t build up to a discouragement.
Never heard back: (60 days): If you haven’t heard anything back in 60 days, you likely aren’t going to hear anything. Moving them out of the applied section again gives clarity to real options. Clear this one out periodically as well.
Activity Goals: Set weekly goals for yourself to hit towards your ultimate goal of finding your job. It’s easy to get sidelined because you are overwhelmed, don’t know what to do or just get plain lazy. Keep yourself accountable so that you don’t fall into those traps.
Resilience and proper expectations
Finding your job can take some resilience. Know going into this that you are going to have setbacks and be prepared for them. Make peace with the inevitable and do your best to not take it personally. Just because you don’t get an interview or someone says no, doesn’t mean you have less value. It just simply means that the opportunity wasn’t your job. Look to see what you can learn from those tough moments to help you in the future.
Keep yourself focused and in the right mindset while on the hunt for your job.
You know who you are. You know the skills that set you apart. You know what that ideal job and company look like. Use all that knowledge to build yourself a solid plan to land your job. It’s out there, you just need to go and find it.
It’s important to match your skills, strengths, interest, and personality to a company’s culture, values and environment. No doubt, that the company is going to feel you out for culture fit during the interview process. How do you learn about the environment and culture of a company that you’ve never worked at before? Getting this one wrong could lead you to regret the decision to join the group in the first place. Let’s get it right.
Understand the company’s purpose and philosophy
You should research any company that you are interested in to understand its purpose and philosophy. It’s the whys and hows of its existence. Here are a few of the ways that you can check in on this.
Check out the company’s website. What are they promoting and proud of? What is their history? Do they have info on the specific location that you are looking for? You can find much of this info on the about page of their website.
Look into the CEO. Have they been there awhile? You can look at sites like Glassdoor to see their approval rating among the employees. You can also discover if the employees would recommend the company to others. I like to check to see the trend in the comments. Have they jumped up or taken a nosedive in the year? Why?
Check the organization’s social media feeds to see what they are highlighting. It’s a signal of what is important to them.
If you have an in-person interview, get there early and observe how people interact with others. Are they modeling the type of environment that you like?
Interview everyone that interviews you about their thoughts on the company. (They usually love this!) Ask them to describe the company. What is their favorite thing about working there? What is one thing that they would change? What does success look like there?
Some items that describe fit are universal
Some things are just universal and are nearly always looking for in a new job. Here are some of the most common to look into and discover how important they are to the organization you are looking at.
Employee engagement or their level of care
Their culture: formal or informal
Communication to its employees
Ownership of role and responsibility
Delegation or micromanagement
Identify your ideal leader
Hopefully, you have had at least one great boss. It’s ok if you’ve had a bunch of bad ones too. Use the bad ones to figure out what you don’t want in a leader! Write out all those qualities and honestly ask the hiring leader how they see themselves as a leader and what their leadership style is. If it’s a match, that’s just further confirmation that you are in the right place. If it’s not a match, it’s an indicator that you likely will be frustrated in the role.
Now, you know everything you need to about yourself, you have your industries narrowed down and your companies picked out. Next time we will formulate the plan to get your job.
For your next job, you’ll need to have a good grasp of your skills and strengths so that you can show that value to the hiring leaders for the company that you want to be with.
Uncover your skills and strengths
First, you need to note what your skills are. Think about your current and former jobs, schooling, hobbies, and other activities that could draw out what those skills are. Some categories to consider are:
People skills: coaching others, leading, listening, performance management, hosting, selling, and teaching
Data skills: research, compiling info, finance, programming, excel, reports and problem-solving
Some areas to think about to uncover your strengths.
What are you known for?
What are you the go-to person for?
What do you love doing?
What are you successful at?
There are several places that can help you identify your skills and strengths.
I recommend the book Strengthfinder 2.0. It’s not a traditional book in that you read it from cover to cover. You take an online assessment and then use the book to dive into your strengths and then increase your understanding of who you work well with and you wouldn’t work well with.
Assessment.com is a free site where you can find your strengths and skill set. Be prepared. It takes nearly 25 minutes to complete. There are paid options for this site as well.
Mindtools.com is another comprehensive site out there that identifies and maps your skills.
List out your accomplishments & build your story
Now that you’ve got your skills and strengths figured out, take some time to list out your accomplishments. These could be projects, tasks, that you are especially proud of. What are you most proud of in your job? Try to get to a list of 10 or more. They don’t all have to be monumental things. They may be simpler things you did that put a smile on your face, made you celebrate, or helped someone out.
Got your list?
Perfect! The next step is to start to create stories around those accomplishments. We’ve talked about the importance of storytelling in the past. (Be the Storyteller: PTB show #124) Reference that resource to understand the story type that you want to convey with each accomplishment.
There are many acronyms that professionals use to convey a good story structure. Regardless, each story should start with your situation, what action you or your team took and what the end results were. We’ve covered this topic in the past as well. (Ace the Interview: PTB show #113)
Put those two together and you’ve got strong accomplishments that are presented clearly and in an engaging format for hiring leaders to hear.
You should have a list of 12 or so industry careers interests from our time last week. Combine that with your knowledge about your strengths and skills and you should really be getting close to finding what your job looks like. Next week we will look at your ideal environment. What does your dream company look like?
As you get older, the stress of finding a new job increases. As a high schooler or college student, there is little risk or consequences, and you typically have many options to choose from. Life gets more complex. You start a family, you buy a house, you are (hopefully) preparing for retirement. It can be easy to fall into temptation and just jump into any job that you can land that pays what you were making before or a little more.
We want to help you find not just any job, but your job. It’s out there, we just need to figure out what your interests are, what your strengths are, what the environment looks like and develop a plan. We’ll focus on your interests today.
Know your personality
It’s important that you start with your personality and interests as you look for your job. After all, your job should be about your interests, skills, and desires and not something you have to mold yourself into liking.
If you do research on personality types, you’ll find anywhere from 4 to 16 personality types listed. They typically fall under these general categories:
Introverted/Extroverted: This should be the easiest for you to identify.
Planner/Flexible: Do you love building and following a plan, or do you enjoy meeting the surprises of life? Public service professions strive in flexibility, think of nurses, firefighters, police etc. While they do train and plan, they never know what their day is going to look like. Great planners sit in areas like finance, operations, and management.
Big picture/Small details: Are you more of a visionary leader or love being in the details of the work and creation? Loving details is great for those in auditing and technology programming. Big picture and creativity work well in the arts, marketing, and business strategy.
Solo/Team: Do you like depending on yourself or love the team environment? This will help you narrow down what type of job in the industries that you pick out.
Logics/Emotions: Do you lean towards logic? These people love numbers, analytics, data and facts in making decisions. Emotional people follow their heart. They typically have a strong sense of their morals and use that to guide them.
Consistency/Variety: Do you like to work on the same things consistency and grow a deep level of knowledge and expertise or do you enjoy mixing it up on different tasks and projects?
Driver/Contributor. Some would say this category is leader/follower. We know that you can lead yourself well without having the desire to lead others. This category is still relevant though, and one I surprising struggled with a bit as I was going through the same process. Is leading others important to you? How much? Does it have to be direct leadership or can you have an impact through indirect influence? I found that I love leading people directly, but I didn’t require a number of direct reports as long as I am influencing the whole organization.
Two of the largest and most known personality profiles are Myer Briggs and DiSC. A number of companies and organizations use these two companies to better understand their people. You can find those and various free outlets online. I would suggest utilizing one. You will likely found yourself as a bit of both options in the categories above and a test can help clarify that for you.
Uncover your interests
Now that you’ve got your personality nailed down, you need to identify your interests. This means figuring out what industries you want to work in. O*NET is a site by the US Department of Labor that can help you narrow down the industries to find the best fit for you.
Step one: Find your industry
Eliminate the industries that you are totally out for you.
Pick ones that really interest you.
Identify ones that have some interest.
Step two: Find your job areas
Click on each industry that you picked and choose your top 25 areas. This will take some time to complete.
Once you drill into the industry, you can see jobs, projected growth and what the estimated job count increase will be in the coming years.
Narrow your list of 25 down to 12.
Uncovering your interests and identifying your personality are two very practical points towards finding your job. You now know what type of job role that you want based on your personality and where you want to work based on your interests. We’ll cover skills, the company profile, and your plan in the coming weeks.
A Harvard Business Review study showed that people are most likely to leave in their first year. Most companies of course don’t need HBR to tell them that; they feel the churn of the rotating door of talent in some of their most critical roles. Today we’ll discuss ways to keep your people engaged so that they stick around to the first year and far beyond.
The first step in building out a plan is to understand the reasons why the largest groups of people are leaving. I’ve spoken with and advised organizations that will inherently point to compensation as the reason why. While money and benefits may be a factor, it will never be the only factor at play in the reasons behind leaving. Invest the time on the front end to understand what some of the true reasons are.
Where to look
Learn from those that wrapped their first year recently. What kept them around? What were their struggles? What do they feel like they missed? This will be one of the most valuable places to gather this important info.
Learn from the leaders of the population that you are solving for. What do they see? What are some of the common skill gaps of new people?
Talk to peers, partners, and others to affirm or add context to what you learned from the first two groups.
Poll those that left. This is a great practice to have in place as long as it is in conjunction with some of the other fact-gathering activities. Often times ex-employees won’t give you the full reason or they may over-exaggerate a point based on a bad personal experience.
Leverage your findings to build out a plan
Regardless of industry, you’ll typically find a combination of compensation, support to be successful in the role, a sense of connectedness to others, and purpose in their work to be some of the major reasons that you may need to care for.
Now that you have the power of that knowledge to know where to go, you need to consider how to get there. Look at how your vulnerable population works. Are they office based with strict performance and time expectations? Perhaps they are mobile; always on the move. Maybe they are mostly working from home or in a hybrid work environment.
For your program to be successful it must meet the person where they are and resonate with who they are, what they need, and how and when they need it. Using the three examples above, if you created one program to try to care for them all, you would inevitably fail at all three. Leverage multiple layers into the program to help meet people’s different learning styles and communication preferences. I prefer to include virtual meetings, mentoring, one-on-one coaching, and self-paced learning (using audio, video, and practical exercises)
Assess data and storytell
Access your program at the 90-day, 6-month, and year mark to see what adjustments need to be made. I don’t think that there is a single program that I have launched over the years that didn’t change in some regard by the end of the first year. Let go of control and ego to listen and learn from your mentors, advisors, and people that are going through the program. Make those needed adjustments to further refine the experience of your people and increase the engagement of those mentors, and advisors that are making it happen.
The six-month and year marks are great times to pull retention data to see how your efforts are actually impacting the business. Partner with HR to get an understanding of what the full costs are when hiring for an open role (Comp, backfill expenses, recruiting expenses, loss of productivity, etc). Multiply that dollar amount by the number or percentage of people that were saved as a result of your program. This is a great way to show the bottom line impact of the hard work and clears an easier path to gain more resources to expand or enhance your program.
Your onboarding program doesn’t have to be an overly complicated plan in order to get great results. Focus on understanding the why behind the reasons for leaving, build a solution that meets the person where they are, and follow up on potential changes. Be sure to celebrate those well-deserved wins along the way!
Have you ever known someone who leaves a great opportunity only to flounder and as a result never bounces back to a level that they were before? Perhaps they are the type to jump headfirst into the newest financial fad without thinking through the implications. Maybe they are constantly job hopping instead of taking time to plan out a true career journey.
There are times when we all could have benefitted from a person helping us see the larger picture before making a foolish or rash decision. Here are some ways that you can help protect your people from themselves when they need it most.
Keep a close connection when they are struggling
Sometimes it is quite easy to see when someone is struggling in their work or personal life. They act out, they may lower their level of care for themselves and others, or they may begin cutting themselves off from critical relationships among other signs. For others, the signs are much more subtle. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon to hear someone say, “I didn’t know that they were struggling or had an issue,” until it was too late.
Find the right balance: Are you figuratively smothering the person or do you need to be even more present with them? It’s hard to tell at times, and the level of connection needed can change depending on what the root cause of the other person’s struggle is. Adding to the complexity is the fact that we all need different amounts of quiet and space to process. Some great activities that always help include – taking care of some of their daily tasks, helping them get a change of scenery, and providing them with extra support. Make sure that the person is open to the help first.
Listen or problem-solve?: Being there for someone will typically fall into one of two categories: helping them problem-solve through the situation or simply being present and available for the person. A great strategy here, for both home and work, is to just ask the question, “Do you want me to help problem-solve, or do you need a good listener right now?” This gives the person an opportunity to share what their need is and a clear direction for you during the conversation.
Fill in the blanks
A person may believe that they are making good decisions or acting in a way that props themselves up for success, or at a minimum, helps them move away from a situation that is not good for them. In reality, they may be unknowingly setting themselves up for failure.
Ever make a poor choice because you later learned that you were missing critical information? People have created irreversible harm to their relationships and careers because they were acting on skewed or incomplete information.
Help your people see and understand the bigger picture. Speaking in anecdotes and what-ifs only can cause more confusion which leads to further disengagement down the path of a decision that can have unintended consequences on their career.
There may be circumstances when you can’t share fully for a number of reasons. In this circumstance, let them know that you aren’t able to share any information at the current time, but give them a timeline of when you’ll follow up with them. Mark the time commitment in your calendar so that you don’t forget to re-engage on the topic.
Give them a chance to share their struggles
Providing the person the psychologically safe space to openly share their struggles is important. There is a high likelihood that the person firmly believes that some of their needs are not being met by the team or organization. Give them a chance to express their frustration and share what their needs or aspirations are. What you learn here may give you an easy path to set things right.
Give them a way back
Let’s say the person is a wonderful contribution to your team, but they end up moving on. Let them know that they will have a place on your team if they ever change their mind. Over the years, I’ve spoken to several people who left an organization, only to return. Their loyalty and appreciation are nearly always higher as a result. Be sure to help them work through any embarrassment that they may feel as they re-onboard with the team.
We should always want the best for those on our teams, and that sometimes means letting them move on to bigger and better things. In those times when a person may be making a hasty decision, move in to provide extra support to help prevent them from making a move that they will later regret.
Whether you have a business or you are looking to forward your personal career, it pays to have a plan in place. Finding your replacement before it’s needed is essential in order to keep continuity in the business and work, but it also requires you to let go of some ego and even perhaps overcome some fear and trust issues.
A Harris poll found that 60% of small business owners had no succession plan in place. I study by Wilmington Trust further affirms the data, finding 58% of small business owners with no succession plans. The gap isn’t just a challenge for small businesses, many national and global organizations lack a true plan for leadership succession.
Capabilities of today vs needs for the future
The saying, “What got you here, won’t get you where you want to go,” is certainly true when it comes to succession planning. Just because someone is very productive and efficient at the role that is currently in, doesn’t automatically mean that they will be great at the next level.
As you look for that next leader on your team, think about the skills that they currently have against the ones that they will need in order to be successful. Each time a person crosses a threshold from one level of leadership to another, it requires them to reconfigure their skills in order to have continued success.
Think about a phenomenal individual contributor. They may be incredible at what they do, but they’ll need to let go of certain passion projects/tasks and learn to delegate and prioritize their time differently in order to be a leader. As they progress in their career to lead other leaders, they’ll need to change again in what they focus on, how they communicate, and spend their personal time.
Identify and spend time with your future leader to prepare for those key skills and changes in behavior before the opportunity arises.
Test it and realistically access
Once you figure out those key skills and attributes to develop the person around you, it’s good to test out their learnings. Here are a few ways that you can test their growth and readiness:
Run hypotheticals: Present real-world scenarios and talk through how they would go about navigating the challenge. You can add a sense of urgency by condensing timelines, and/or temporarily taking away resources to understand how they adapt to the environment. Give the person meaningful feedback after they complete the scenario. This is a great safe way to role-play unique and challenging parts of the role with someone.
Extend some authority: There’s very little that someone do that can’t be ultimately fixed. Extend some authority to the person, so that they can get an understanding of responsibility, try it on, and provide others with a glimpse of what the person is capable of. Start small in scale, time, and impact level and add on as the person shows more comfortability and delivers on the result.
Give them exposure to other parts of the business: Often when a person moves up, it means that they will be interfacing with a new area of the business. Perhaps they would take on more financial responsibility or perhaps take in a whole new segment of the business. Give them opportunities to explore those new areas early, so that they have comfortability and knowledge around them as they grow their business acumen.
As you add in these scenarios and situations to prepare them for the next level, give them real and honest feedback along the way. It serves them and your people better when aren’t afraid to shy away from difficult conversations and coaching moments.
During the development phase, you and the other person may realize that they are currently in their sweet spot in the career, and promoting them would do both the person involved and the team a disservice. Rest assured that learning this information, doesn’t mean that you’ve wasted effort. Quite the contrary! You’ve saved an employee from going into a job that they wouldn’t enjoy and you have saved time and money spent in replacing one or both roles. Through the process, you’ve also increased the knowledge and experience of the person that will serve them well in the role that they are currently in.
Run the two-up exercise on yourself
Now that you’ve got some idea of succession development with your people, it’s time to put your strategy to the test to see how well you have future-proofed your key positions.
Run the succession exercise with yourself or your leader(s): The exercise is simple enough, you simply start at the top of the team and ask the hypothetical, “This is now gone, who’s next?” You then work your way down your proverbial organizational ladder from there to check where your opportunities are. It’s not uncommon to have segments that are well-prepared for and others that are in obvious need of attention.
Once you have built in a good layer of succession and development on your ladder take the exercise to the next level by going two-deep on the roles that you are planning succession around. We’ve seen on countless occasions where this has real-world implications and payoff. Have you ever seen a leader leave and then the 2nd in command leave not long afterward? It happens! Going two deep on succession provides you with a natural level of protection when two drop (or promote) within a small timeframe.
Embrace your succession planning efforts to take your team’s development and your own potential to the next level.
I seem to coach and help a lot of leaders looking for their next job or step in their career. One thing I always stress is for the person to find their job, not just any job. (Ep 228-231) There is an intentional reason behind the distinction between the two; your job has purpose and will give you long-lasting satisfaction, while any available job will likely leave you empty and back and same place of searching for another role.
We all want our work to mean something. We want to know that we are contributing to something larger than gathering a paycheck. Here are some ways to lock in on your purpose as you carry a strong connection to what you do.
1. Find purpose in your purpose
A purpose that doesn’t run deep or ring true on a foundational level is…well not a true purpose.
It’s easy for an organization to say, “These are our Values and the purpose of our work.” Unless you find a way to connect with that on a personal level then that purpose doesn’t really mean anything. We all have inherent things that uniquely drive us and motivate us to be our best. Some people are drawn to be connectors, others are servants, others creative, builders and solutionists. Connect to whatever your inner drive is to latch on to your purpose in your work. It’s common to find people working on the same team and on the same tasks with totally different purposes for being there and finding value in their work.
2. Think of purpose holistically
I’ve coached several very talented people in the past that had bountiful potential. It struck me as odd at first how some would burn out, not meet their potential and leave their job. You could see it coming towards the end, so it wasn’t a surprise but it surely was disheartening. They were frustrated by not reaching their sense of purpose, which was often a world-changing event on impact in the organization.
Purpose is certainly having a large-scale impact on others, but that is not all of what purpose is. Those “tent-pole” moments of purpose don’t happen on a daily basis, and if we hold ourselves to the all-or-nothing mindset of purpose we can have long stretches of dissatisfaction in what we do.
Think of purpose holistically. We often talk on the show about how minor things matter. That’s certainly the case with purpose. Making someone’s day a bit easier, bringing a smile to someone’s face, or helping someone meet a need could all be parts of your purpose. Find purpose and joy in the smaller things that you do throughout your week. There are plenty of small opportunities to serve a bigger purpose and cause in what you do.
If you only chase after monumental purpose moments and events, you’ll find yourself unfulfilled.
3. Break the comparisons
Not everyone is going to be a CEO or someone that is written about in the history books. As obvious as that sounds, there are plenty of people that put their purpose and impact through a comparison lens of others. Perhaps you look back every once in a while to see how you are doing compared to your high school or college classmates. Maybe you compare yourself to your teammate or a family member. Letting go of the self-induced pressure of legacy frees you up to truly live out your purpose in your work and in your life.
I once coached and mentored a small-town business leader who was singularly focused on leaving a great legacy behind as he retired. You’ve likely never heard of him, but that doesn’t mean his legacy with those that do know him is any less valuable. He truly lived thrived in his purpose to serve others by not caring about comparisons between him and someone else.
4. Remind yourself of your purpose
We can lose our focus on purpose through changes in the how of the work, cultural changes, or technology changes. If you find yourself struggling to find the Why in work, take some time to refocus on what you do.
Make a list of all the things that you enjoy about your job. Remember the small things!
List out all of the accomplishments you’ve had over the last 6 months or a year. You’ll likely be surprised by how much you have accomplished.
Take some time off to refresh and recharge.
Be transparent with your supervisor or peers. Look for new opportunities or projects that you can be a part of to help introduce you to some new people and concepts.
Latch on to your purpose, let go of comparisons and keep your focus on your Why as you navigate change. You’ll be more productive, have a higher sense of satisfaction, and work in what you do and you’ll have a long-lasting impact on others.
There’s typically a lot of excitement when a new person starts on the team. As a leader, you are looking forward to the extra help and what the person can offer to the team; for the new employee they are excited about a fresh opportunity and look forward to serving somewhere that has an impact both personally and professionally.
It is important to have a strong strategy around onboarding a new team member because let’s face it….sometimes good help is hard to find and studies show 31% of people have quit a job within 6 months of taking the role.
Start out with a strong foundation
Make it simple, make it easy, and make it fun. Think back to dating when it comes to a new employee.
Before you went out on a date, you probably put some extra attention on your appearance and worked out all the details to make sure that it was a perfect event. That same level of attention and intentionality should be put in ahead of a new person’s arrival.
Is their workstation set up for them?
Access has taken care of ahead of time?
is the equipment (CPU, hardware) ready for them?
Is your schedule set so you’ll have protected time to spend with them?
What other miscellaneous things need to happen beforehand to have a great first week?
Be a connector
Your new people are going to rely on you to be a connector in two ways; first to introduce them to other key people on the team and larger organization and secondly to connect them to the larger context of what’s going on around them.
Networking: Starting a new job with a new company is hard and it can be overwhelming sometimes. Be intentional to connect the person to other people across the team and capitalize on moments to bring them along to meetings and meet and greets so that they can starting connecting to what will be their larger professional network.
Context: We can be tempted to throw the person right into the work and have them starting to immediately produce. In order to be truly effective, they need to understand the context and the why behind what they are big asked to do.
Slow down and explain the why and story behind the reasoning of the approach, why the tasks need to be done, and what the impact is on the larger goals at hand. This won’t be a one-and-done process; you’ll need to continue to fill the context as new projects and responsibilities take shape.
Set them up with a partner/mentor
New employees often share the sentiment that they appreciate a good friendly co-worker, mentor, or partner to lean on while they learn their role and responsibilities.
Assigning a person on your team to play this role with a new employee is a win for all parties. Your new employee is keeping a high level of engagement while you are not there, you have confidence that they are getting the support that they need and it’s a chance for the mentor to grow in their own abilities both personally and professionally.
In order for this partnership to reach its fullest potential, set some expectations on what they should cover together, the tempo for check-ins, and what the end goal is for the relationship. Without good parameters and expectations, even the best-intentioned mentoring relationships can fall aside due to other work priorities and life in general.
Think about the person’s longer experience
Over the years when I’ve asked leaders who long they onboard a person, I get a wide variety of answers. Some say a few days, and others say up to 90 days. As you work to onboard a new employee I would encourage you to think about a year’s worth of experience.
A year may seem like a lot but think about a year’s worth of work where you are. It’s likely that you have some busy times and slow times during the year. You may have projects, tasks, or responsibilities that fall into a specific time of the year that only occurs once a year. You are selling your new person short if you stop onboarding them at 90 days when many of your big-ticket items of the year are 6 months from now.
As their rolling 12 months progress, you shouldn’t have to stay as close to them in their daily work, but you should be mindful and intentional to spend time with them and help them learn seasonal changes and big projects that occur throughout the year.
One of the biggest reasons people leave in their first year is because they didn’t get the support to be successful in their role.
Engage with your new employee throughout their first year with you. You’ll increase your retention rates and new people will feel welcome and supported as they start a long career with you.
Chess is a game that I can honestly say, that I’m ok at but would not do well against a seasoned player. I do love the concept of chess though. Utilizing the same starting resources with the winner being determined by strategic planning and ability to adapt to their opponent.
We can find leadership in chess in a few different ways that wrap around strategic thinking.
You need to understand everyone’s role
The first step in learning how to play chess is to understand the roles of all the pieces (how they move, what they should do, priority, etc) so that you can actually begin to play the game.
The same has to happen with your team in order to be effective in your job. Yes, it’s important to understand the literal job that they sit in and what that role encompasses on the team, but it’s just as important to get to know the person to understand what unique talents and abilities that they bring to the table.
Knowing just about the role on the team without the personal context is like knowing only half of what each piece does. Can you still win? Sure, with easier challenges and opponents. You are going to be quickly taken out of a game though if you go in this way against a seasoned player.
Learn your people’s passions, talents, and motivators to take their role on the team over the top. They can help you move your strategy in a way that you may not even realize right now.
The best always think ahead
Good chess players are playing their turn, but they are thinking about several moves ahead. Playing chess can help you be a great strategic planner.
I use the chessboard analogy quite a bit when teaching leaders about being strategic when they think about the future of their talent and the strategy of the team and organization.
The idea is that you start with a hypothetical that is rooted in the real world and then you begin to play out how you would react and what your next steps would be.
For talent, we typically start with the hypothetical sudden opening in a key role. Who is the next person? What happens if that option doesn’t work out? Who is the backfill for the new role? Who is the backfill’s backfill? You can quickly find out where your strengths and opportunities are with the current and future strength of your team when you run scenarios like this.
For your business or goals, it’s a similar concept. Start throwing what-ifs into your work routine that are grounded in reality and probability. They can be rooted in business goals or maybe more soft skills in nature. If the business plan doesn’t take off like planned then what? How do I lead my people if someone were to, unfortunately, pass from COVID?
Running these with yourself and your team on occasion is always a worthwhile time investment. We actually call this type of exercise chessboard when we do it with other leaders.
Things change and you have to adapt
Even the best-laid plans don’t always work out like they were planned to. Life happens! In chess, you may have to change your strategic plan and begin reacting and changing your plan based on an unexpected move from the other side that just occurred.
Help your team see the changes before they occur and equip them to communicate their thoughts to you and the team as they occur. Some of the best companies in the US to adapt early to COVID saw what was happening in Asia and Europe and got ahead by beginning to change plans before it hit them. You’ll need to have a high degree of trust and respect built up between you and your people in order to be great here. They need to understand that you will value and take to heart their guidance and you need to trust they are thinking through things with the right mindset and have the right level of perspective for the issue at hand.
On a smaller scale, think about how you react to the smaller changes that happen to you on a regular basis? Does it wreck your day or stop productivity, or do you make a quick plan, adapt, and move on?
Handle change, both big and small, well to keep your plan moving forward.
Just as in chess, you’ll be a better leader when you understand what challenges you’re up against (The other player) understand your team well (the pieces) that execute on your plan well while being flexible to adapt along the way.