Dear Tish

Dear Tish: How to Integrate a New Hire

Tish-Squillaro This is the first post in a monthly advice column on The Makegood. This column will acknowledge any and all of your questions regarding advertising, technology, executives, strategic decisions, and much more. With more than 17 years of experience, Tish Squillaro, the CEO and founder of CANDOR, will be the column’s author, answering questions in areas where she is well-versed. Tune into The Makegood every month to find Trish’s response to industry questions. 

Dear Tish,

We recently made an executive hire that should be a huge asset to our business. The hire was very successful and demonstrated strong leadership at her last company, but we’re off to a rough start. How can we better integrate her into our company so that she is in a position to succeed?

– Help Us Help Her, New York, NY

Dear HUHH,

One of the most difficult things about managing a business is bringing in top talent and integrating them into a company without any hiccups. Technology and advertising companies rely on innovative thinking, which necessitates some fresh faces every now and then. Yet the company’s health is always the priority, and managers want their new employees to fit with minimal adjustments to the company culture. This can be harder than it sounds.

The most important thing to do with new executives is to empower them, and do so from the very beginning. Make it clear, in no uncertain terms, what is expected of them and how much authority they have. That makes it easy to get comfortable, learn about the company’s processes and culture, and get to work.

Of course, there are always new executives who are desperate to prove that they belong, which leads to unnecessary displays of how tough they are, or taking on an assumed role as a “change agent.” Sometimes you’ll see new team members devote too much effort to building an image as a no-nonsense “leader.”

No one likes change strictly for the sake of change. That’s why it’s vital that new leadership hires understand what’s expected of them. Much of the behavior I just described stems from self-doubt and uncertainty. Empowering a new executive shows that you are comfortable and confident in their ability to lead. Set clear expectations up front, prepare a 90-day onboarding plan with the new hire, and help them implement it.

This groundwork starts during the interview process. If you want someone to bring a fresh perspective but still fit within the existing culture, it’s crucial that they know this as soon as the process gets serious. Tell your new executive that you want them to lead through collaboration, rather than handing down orders. If the existing system is successful, but a job candidate has a vision that clearly differs from yours, that’s a good indicator that he or she might not fit. Talking about your culture and vision early on weeds out potential bad matches and ensures that you’re getting someone who can easily slot into the executive team.

Finally, don’t be afraid to let go. If it’s still not working after the 90 days are up, don’t hold out hope that things will magically come together. Keeping a bad hire around for too long impacts the rest of the team, and it makes the new hire less credible as time goes on.

Your employees know when it’s not working just as much as you do, so be prepared to let go before things get worse. In most cases I’ve witnessed, failure doesn’t come from hiring the wrong person, but from keeping them longer than necessary.

Have a business management question that lacks an easy answer? Tish Squillaro, the CEO and founder of CANDOR and the author of HeadTrash, has more than 17 years of experience advising media and technology executives in strategic planning, organizational dynamics and human capital allocation. Send your question to deartish@candor-consulting.com. (Questions may be edited).

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