New leader onboarding can often be tricky business for the internal communications team. It depends on a variety of factors – ranging from the organization’s culture to the leader’s personality style. Leadership transitions can be opportunities for the internal communicator to shape the future of the business. It is also relevant for influencing key decisions through leader engagements. Internal communications, especially a 100 day plan can help a new leader (hired from outside the company or promoted from within) integrate sooner.
Here are a few thoughts that you may consider while crafting your internal communications plan keeping your leader at the centre of the strategy.
– Change and context: Every leadership appointment will have a strong reason and it is crucial for the internal communicator to understand the backstory of the change. It helps put things in perspective and plan around implications, if any. Align your leader change announcement or press release with your internal communications messages. The last thing you need is a surprise. Never good for getting your leader started.
– Culture and fit: The success of your leader onboarding depends also on the culture within the organization. If the expectation is to hit the ground running then there is little time to attempt new ideas. If the leader is an outsider (an expatriate or a completely new hire) internal communications will need to focus on building trust and relationships in the near term. Country specific culture training also adds immense value and appreciation.
– Style and adaptability: Understand the leader’s style of working. Is the leader comfortable writing up his or her communications or does the leader need reviews and coaching? The internal communicator will need to play it by ear and work around the leader’s approach.
– Opportunities and quick wins: You may already have a lot going on in the organization and the new leader can step in to amplify the messages. Some examples are a change in business strategy, a landmark product launch or a key milestone in the company’s journey
– Consistency and connections: Review the leader’s profile online to ensure it is consistent with the new role. Any time lag in fixing profile gaps can lead to perceptions about the leader
– First steps and engagements: As part of a 100 day plan to get the basics done an introductory mail, communication templates, a tour of the offices, a quick meet and greet and lunch interactions can get employees comfortable with the leader. If the leader is new to the region or country it helps to get the person to engage with industry forums to learn and absorb initially from others.
– Communication and messages: Before you build your plan speak to as many people as you can to understand the new leader’s working style and expectations. Employees will be keen to know what the new leader’s perspectives are, his or her first impressions, expectations from them and the road ahead. It helps to bake these into your communication messages.
– Measure and report: Finally, keep a tab on how the plan pans out. You may need to fine tune the plan based on feedback and reviews. Informally seek insights on how the messages are landing. For example, during a leader interaction I heard from someone that he looked quite different in person unlike the photo that got shared via e-mail! Was it concerning? Not really but it helps to go back and revisit how to ensure what employees see is what they get!
Have other ideas to manage a leader’s onboarding? Do share it here.