Onboarding and familiarization with success: 3 X company vs. Employee view [+ checklists]


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Text comes from: Kommen, um zu bleiben - Systemisches Handgepäck für erfolgreiches Onboarding (2020) of Helga Brüggemann, published by Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Reprints by friendly permission of the publisher.
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Onboarding participants encounter conditions such as team membership and performance, all in one Company have to be balanced. How can this be done?

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Helga Brüggemann is head of systemic consulting in Düsseldorf.

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Onboarding processes: Which conditions apply

Whoever meets these conditions in onboarding, e.g. give and take, belonging, ZeitFollow, commitment, performance and ability, given due consideration, can develop a seismograph for disruption prevention. Because most people have a feeling for when systems get out of balance. With closer inspection, this feeling can be analyzed and put into words.

Knowing how in this Company the rabbit is one thing; another is the willingness to conform to the principles. During the training period, there was a first approximation. Both sides have come into close contact. Limits of what is appropriate and what is not appropriate with each other have been gradually set out. The risk that rules due to ignorance will not be adhered to will decrease over time. In most cases, the training period could also be used successfully on the content level. In the rarest of cases, a new employee is technically unsuitable.

Disruptions in the familiarization phase mostly on an interpersonal level

However, disruptions in the familiarization period occur in most cases on an interpersonal level. In particular, the relationship with the direct supervisor is crucial for successful integration. The manager is an important regulatory. As a rule, he notices at an early stage if there is a need for adjustment, and he is authorized to give feedback and, if necessary, instructions. If the chemistry is right, the chance of a successful onboarding process is great.

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If it is not correct, less trusting discussions take place. If the new employee does not discuss his impressions and there is no feedback, he runs the risk of not meeting expectations. Ideally, the newcomer receives regular feedback based on observed behavior or requests it. If company rules are not observed, there is a risk of exclusion if the correction is not made. According to Holger Kleve, people can only coordinate as biological and psychological units through the routine of a regular consultation. It is not possible for them to relate to one another in a direct way. People cannot transfer thoughts between themselves, cannot cognitively link from consciousness to consciousness.

Balancing act between adaptation and action

The balancing act between adaptation and active role design remains even after the trial period. The exact nature of this pendulum movement depends on the personalities and their opportunities for good relationship building, which come together in the onboarding process, as the case studies below show. Again and again it has to be explored how your own expertise and the distant outside view can be added without adding to the system.

The regular comparison of self-image and external image helps to avoid inappropriate behavior. Regular discussions in a trusting atmosphere, in which both sides make their perception available, are an indicator of good work ability. In this way, the basis for a trusting collaboration is laid in the first weeks of the collaboration. That gives both sides security. There is room to tackle the next level of integration.

Example 1: Positioning from a company perspective

The trial period is over and the new employee appears to have proven successful. An employee survey showed above-average results. The superior's judgment is good. It also seems to be well integrated, based on what is observable: it makes appointments with different people at the table, follows invitations to information events, and was also present at the summer party and Christmas party after the official part.

Checklist: Lack of visibility in the new job

She gladly accepted the invitation to participate in a mentoring program. The integration of the employee seems to be on the right track. The question arises as to how the bond with the company can be further expanded. In the first assessment, the employee received a very good professional rating. The development field was defined to be known beyond the boundaries within which she works. The question arises as to what possibilities there are on the company side to make their skills more visible to third parties, to offer their stages.

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The newcomer does not appear enough yet. It is socialized by a large, family-run group in which elegant restraint was an important part of the corporate culture. It is therefore too withdrawn in the internal public. This becomes clear when answering questions about visibility in the organization, such as:

  • What role does it play in groups in which representatives of other departments are also present?
  • What part does it take on when delegations are visiting or customer forums are held?
  • How does she behave in meetings in the presence of her boss and her boss?
  • How is the interaction with the supervisor?
  • Is it perceived in meetings in their presence?
  • What is hierarchy in general like?

How can new employees increase their visibility in the company?

The conclusion of this current position determination in this case is: The newcomer is doing a good job, but is too reluctant to interact with others, especially when dealing with the internal and external public. It can only be promoted if it becomes visible and thus part of the social reality of the organization. Those who are not noticed by other people simply do not exist.

In order to be considered for interesting special projects and to be asked when it comes to representing the company to the outside world or giving a lecture at conferences, the new manager must ensure that they are visible. A mentorship is an institutionalized help on the part of the company to give it impulses in this direction. The newcomer is also expected to actively engage in conversation. It has to show its own handwriting and generate positive feedback. It depends on whether and how quickly career planning will follow the on-boarding process for this manager.

Example 2: Positioning from the perspective of the new employee

How is the situation from the perspective of the newcomer? She now knows what makes the system tick. They can assess what is expected of them and how much scope they have for action. She would like to explore this further and successfully advance projects. She wants to live her potential. To what extent this is already the case, she can see from the frequency, how often her skills match the requirements to such an extent that time flies and a feeling of exhilaration arises after the work is done.

Flow state: the ideal after changing jobs

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi announced this optimal situation as the flow state. A visualization of the current work situation shows the degree of fit: A classification on the y-axis, which defines the level of requirements, and on the x-axis, which defines the necessary level of competence, shows the current position of the new employee at a glance: Is the classification in right upper quadrant, the current positioning is ideal

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The manager could be satisfied with this fit. She brings with her exactly the skills that are needed in this position to advance the company. In terms of content, it has all the prerequisites for good performance. As an expert, she keeps up to date, has political skills and a good feel for collegial leadership. This individual fit alone is not a guarantee of sustainable success in a social system. The manager still lacks an informal network of relationships, as they had built up with their previous employer.

Checklist: Create a safety net through mentoring

How many times, after years of service, had she always come to a point where she didn't know what to do. The strategic realignment, the competitive environment, the prioritization of projects, all of this was constantly in flux. At that time, she only had to pick up the phone and quickly get advice informally. The new manager cannot yet have this safety net after having been with the company for such a short time. The company therefore offered her a mentoring program as support.

A manager from another department, two hierarchical levels above her, became her sparring partner. The exchange with her was very helpful in classifying what to do, but also what to refrain from doing. Her mentor advised her to network more informally. There were questions about how to do this:

  • Is there a corporate network that she could enter?
  • Are there internal company events that are carried out across departments?
  • For which overarching projects could she throw her hat in the ring to think outside the box and make contacts?

What is not communicated does not exist socially

Another point that came up again and again was her role, which she played primarily. In exchange with the mentor, she realized that she had many more options than she used. It took an impetus from outside to consciously leave the role of an expert again and again and to take on the driving role that others perceive. She needed a stage. Fritz Simon compares the exposed role, which is visible to everyone, with that of an artist, the role of the expert working in the background with a housewife. Artists on stage are noticed when they do something. They get positive feedback when they play.

"Housewife activities" stand out if they are not done. You will receive negative feedback. Those who are aware of this distinction may consider whether to take advantage of an offer to show themselves or whether they prefer to keep it covered. Especially in official situations where visibility was greatest due to the presence of hierarchy, the employee seized as many opportunities as possible after reflecting on her visibility in the company. She deliberately took the lead. Their skill was visible in the organization. From a systems theory perspective, she had created social reality by doing something to draw attention. What does not come into communication does not exist socially. Because of this changed behavior, she became better known and was able to expand her informal network in a short time.

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Example 3: The active newcomer in comparison

The situation is different for a newcomer, who tends to take the lead in terms of personality and personality. Due to his previous leadership position in his own company, he is used to acting autonomously and making quick decisions. So this manager quickly became visible in the organization. Reinsurance with superiors was not common in the corporate culture from which he comes. Accordingly, he is struck by many quick decisions that he makes regardless of the context.

Become known about the limits of his area of ​​responsibility

This quickly makes him known beyond the limits of his area of ​​responsibility, since his decisions often affect the area of ​​competence of others. He takes leadership and takes up a lot of space. Depending on the situation, this can be appropriate or critical leadership behavior. When it comes to giving your employees orientation, trend-setting, aggressive leadership behavior is effective. However, there are also situations in which a role other than that of the driver would be advisable. In particular in the presence of representatives of higher hierarchical levels, customers and experts from other areas, the exhaustion of the role variance would be advantageous.

If a competent manager is responsible for a process and drives it forward, this role does not need to be repeated. Otherwise a competitive situation would quickly arise. A secondary scene would be opened. Energy flows off at an interpersonal level, which would be needed at the content level to achieve the goals. This employee is offered coaching based on his or her assessment in order to become aware of their behavioral patterns.

Use behavior in a context-sensitive manner

This newcomer has proven itself and has a successful career ahead of him, provided he learns to adjust his behavior to be more context-sensitive. Depending on the situation, he is expected to accelerate or hold back. How your career in this company will go will depend on your ability to vary your behavior in the future. The organization for management is like the canvas of the painter, the stage of the actor, the paper of the poet or the sheet music of the composer.

The company that the newcomer switched to offers many advantages over his previous position, where he was responsible for everything as an entrepreneur. At that time, a solution had to be found for every new question. In the rarest of cases, there were already defined processes that he could fall back on. That took a lot of time, which he rarely had enough. In this company the situation is different. There is a large database that he can use. On the intranet, he has access to the experience documented in writing by the organization.

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Create networks

Using this database saves time. He also has a lot more colleagues here, whom he can approach if necessary. He is not afraid to pick up the phone or to meet for advice, even if he only knows the person from hearsay. In a short time he was able to make so many helpful contacts. What he perceives as making work easier on the one hand is perceived as restrictive on the other. It is difficult for him to adhere to defined processes, if a brief informal conversation with another department would quickly provide a solution. Neither does it make sense for him to follow a person whom he has the impression that his experience cannot be transferred to this problem.

He has to control himself properly if he has the impression that his interlocutor is less competent than him. He often seizes the scepter, even if his interlocutor is hierarchically above him. He knows that he should hold back more. But if, from his point of view, wrong decisions threaten, his behavior is like a reflex. He just has to take countermeasures. That should not only make sense from his point of view, but also in the interests of the company and is therefore legitimate. Taking a clear position and taking the lead is a solution strategy with which he has been successful so far.

Checklist: How coaching processes help

During a development meeting at the end of the trial period, coaching was suggested to him. Although his professional performance was viewed positively, he was perceived by superiors and managers from other areas as someone with whom it is not so easy to cooperate. Although he had already noticed irritated reactions on the part of some of the interlocutors in some situations, he did not know what he could do differently.

The coaching helped him with precisely this question. He was made aware of the situations in which he perceived irritation from others. It turned out that these mainly occurred in meetings and presentations when different departments and superordinates were present. He learned not only to prepare these meetings professionally, but also to take greater account of the group dynamic level. He became aware of the context by asking questions such as:

  • Who is inviting?
  • Who is responsible for achieving the goals?
  • What role am I invited to?
  • When will this be a good event?
  • Who has what interests?

Being clearer on these points helped him adjust his behavior to the situation without feeling like he was bending.

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