Onboarding Coaching, often called the first 90 or 100 days, aims to assist employees assimilate the culture, working processes/practices, identify formal and informal networks together with the strengths and weaknesses of the organization as quickly and effective as possible. It helps the individual settle into the new organization while looking for ways to deliver without the difficulties starting on the wrong foot can bring. It is easy to pick up systems and processes but much harder to adapt emotionally, especially when you are used to working in a different style with different organizational expectations and measures of success.
For example, if your last organization measured success purely by outcome and was not people focused the individual is likely to behave in the same way in a bid to create a positive impact. If the new organization measures success through people skills and a collaborative way of working rather than just outcome, the impact the individual could make may be a negative rather than positive one if s/he behaves in the style they are used to. It’s harder to change people’s perceptions rather than set them in the first place. Onboarding coaching helps the organization ward off staff difficulties and saves money by avoiding additional recruitment costs, internal fallout and possible damage to their external brand.
As a coach it helps to have an understanding of the organization, its expectations and culture, although this is not essential as it is possible to add value by discussing generic areas for your client to consider. The first step is to gain an understanding of the type of organization the client has worked for and your client’s perception of how s/he operated within this. Exploring how success was measured in your client’s previous organization helps the client understand the ways in which s/he achieved success. You can then move on to thinking about the new position considering how much research your client has undertaken and those aspects that what would be helpful in assisting your client establish a successful personal brand.
There are fundamentally four main areas you can help your client explore. These being, Management Style (team exploration, adapting leadership style and gaining team acceptance), Knowledge (knowledge and skill acquisition, political awareness, informal and formal networks), Relationships (creating an impact, building relationships and effective networking and, lastly, Values (stated organizational values, actual organizational values together with political knowledge and management).
Each of these areas can be broken down into aspects such as what knowledge and skills acquisition might the individual need? How s/he will learn about the values of the organization? How to build effective relationships with direct reports, peers and senior managers etc?
In addition, it can be helpful to start the Onboarding coaching before your client joins the organization. If Onboarding coaching is taken on as an offering by the organization building this into the pre-joining part of the employee’s induction process will need to be considered. Doing this allows the individual to prepare a plan of action before taking up their new position. For example, dress code may seem like a small thing but is something that can add to an individual’s stress levels if they feel out of place and may be something s/he has not thought about. It is helpful to explore the induction manual (if there is one) with the client to see what additional questions s/he may have that have not been covered and what, if anything, the person can do before joining to make the transition as smooth as possible. For example, ringing their HR contact to seek the relevant information.
It is also important to be as flexible as possible with your coaching offering. For example, it is unlikely that less than six ninety minute sessions will be effective as you will need to see and support your client for a minimum of three months. As with all coaching an initial ‘chemistry meeting’ or call to ascertain whether the client wants to work with you and where you can set out your offering is helpful. It is also helpful if your client can have access to you via the telephone between formal sessions, if s/he has a concern. Such time can be taken from the overall coaching time allowance.
In addition, you can add value to the organization by discussing recruitment and induction processes highlighting aspects which may not have thought of. For example does the recruitment and induction process address the issue of culture, is it explicit about the expectations of its directors in relation to working practices etc. Based on the Onboarding Coaching you undertake with individuals you may well also be able to feedback useful ideas and ways of overcoming identified areas of concern.