Connecting Onboarding Debt & Culture, How to identify A players during an interview & Avoiding petty arguments
2 October 2022 Newsletter
“Long-term thinkers get criticized in the short-term. Short-term thinkers get crushed in the long-term.” Ryan Breslow
Hope you’re Thriving!
It’s been an interesting time writing a second book. I didn’t hire a ghostwriter or a researcher; I wanted to do it all myself the way I wanted. It’s not that others do it wrong, that’s their way, and I have mine.
It all started with what I observed was having a tangible impact on the teams I work with, an onboarding process I’d evolved over several years and seemed to be making a significant difference, and nobody seemed to do well.
Then, I remembered a book by a fellow coach Dave Power from the USA called The Curve Ahead: Discovering the Path to Unlimited Growth. It was a unique, actual book, with substance, research and credibility that was impressive, rather than a repeat of others work, or a pumped up sales brochure. They say that there are 1,000 books released every day, but real books, BOOK books with substance, not so much.
So that was my inspiration for Onboarded; I wanted to provide something unique that had depth and was useful. Whether I’ve achieved that is yet to be determined!
Connecting Onboarding Debt and Culture
Continuing excerpts from my new book Onboarded which is due for release on the first of November, here’s a snippet about how Onboarding debt connects with culture:
How do companies inadvertently create bad cultures?
Many of today’s thinkers and writers discuss how to identify if you have a bad culture and what to do about it. But few, if any, ask how bad cultures occur. It’s like there’s a disease, and all the experts are talking about how to identify if you have the disease and what to do if you have it, but no one asks how one catches the disease in the first place.
This problem is so pervasive that a search for “what creates a bad culture” produced only two results on Google in 2021. But searching Google for signs of a bad culture without quotation marks produced 378 million results. I had to use quotation marks to be specific in the first search because all the results I could find without quotation marks only discussed the signs of a bad culture, not what causes it.
Before he died in 2005, Businessweek magazine labelled Peter Drucker as “the man who invented management.” Drucker, who was undoubtedly one of the greatest business thinkers of the twentieth century, coined the phrase “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” This phrase means that no matter how good your strategic plan is, the effectiveness of your strategy will suffer if your company has a dysfunctional culture.
If a good culture is the foundation of success, then understanding the cause of bad cultures, not just the symptoms, is one of the most important things that a leader who seeks success must do.
Imagine you assembled a group of ten random people into a team. However, you provided no instruction, guidance, or training about the culture, technical and process expectations, and leader’s expectations. What would be the resulting culture of the team in a few months or a few years? At best, it would be a roll of the dice.
Maybe you could get lucky, and it would be okay.
But more than likely, people would do what they think is right. They would try to do the right thing. But every one of the ten people’s interpretations of the right thing, in any situation, could be different.
Those different perspectives can lead to misunderstandings and differences of opinion, and over time, those minor issues can compound and create a dysfunctional culture.
Now consider the opposite—a team of ten random people you provide with a detailed onboarding plan. Over 90 days, you help them understand, learn, apply, and then embed the cultural, technical, and process expectations and the leader’s expectations to be a successful fit. Equally, those who are an unsuccessful fit depart after that 90-day onboarding.
The result is that the team who participated in the onboarding will understand what is right. There will be fewer misunderstandings and differences of opinion. There will be better communication about what the team agrees on and a much lower chance of a dysfunctional culture.
The higher the onboarding debt, the more likely an organisation will have cultural issues.
There is a direct connection between the onboarding process and the culture within an organisation.
In my research, 85 percent of respondents with a 90-day onboarding process agreed or somewhat agreed with the statement that our onboarding process positively contributes to our culture. Yet, as shown in the graph below, that drops down to 50 percent for those with a one-day onboarding process.
Last week I read an interesting article about a mental model called Hanlon’s Razor. In Made to Thrive, I spoke about how what your brain interprets as the real world is only hallucinations – it is only your interpretation of the real world. This concept is best explained in this Ted talk from Anil Seth Your brain hallucinates your conscious reality.
Therefore if we can accept that our view of the world is not, in fact, the real world but only our interpretation, it’s an excellent subtext for Hanlon’s Razor.
Hanlon’s Razor can be best described as ‘Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by neglect.’ In other words, when someone makes a mistake, they may be simply clumsy or careless or inarticulate.
When someone says something, it causes you to pause and ask, “Was there malicious intent?”
Hanlon’s Razor teaches us not to assume the worst intention in the actions of others.
Understanding Hanlon’s Razor helps us see the world in a more positive light, stop negative assumptions, and improve relationships.
Here’s an excerpt from the article:
“The German writer Goethe wrote in 1774: “Misunderstandings and neglect create more confusion in this world than trickery and malice. At any rate, the last two are certainly much less frequent.”
A lot has changed since 1774, but misunderstandings and neglect have not. In fact, our emoji-laden, text-based conversations have made it much easier to misjudge someone’s intent. (“Why the hell would you use a period instead of an exclamation point in that text message?”).”
The key, of course, is that to avoid petty arguments, you must first ask yourself, “was there malice?” and the reality is that almost always, the answer is no.
Read the article here: How You Can Use “Hanlon’s Razor” to Avoid Petty Arguments
How can you identify A players during an interview?
There is no substitute for a team of A players. The higher the percentage of A players that you have in your team for longer, the greater the chance of the team’s success. How do you know when you’ve got an A player – or potential – on your hands?
This week we discuss the four things you must do to know how to identify A players during an interview and how to validate A players beyond that.
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