Newsletter – May 24, 2017

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Turn new hires into superstars: just add water … or, uh, try our roadmap

Hello friends,

We want to make it easy for you to set new hires up for success, so we’ve created a “roadmap” to help you do exactly that. It will walk you through four key steps for nailing a new staff member’s first three weeks: how to be crystal clear about expectations (both overall and on specific key projects), how to build feedback into the relationship right away, how to share the playbook for how things work on your team, and how to be sure the person has the tools and skills she’ll need to be successful from the start. (We refuse to call this “on-boarding” because we’re not ready to concede that we’ve lost the jargon battle on this one. Fighters against jargon, unite!)

Get your own customizable copy of this roadmap to new hire success here.

(For a broader orientation for new staff members, you might also check out our sample orientation agenda.)

We’ve also got four more resources for you this month that we hope will be useful in your work.

What to tell staff about someone who’s under-performing

We talk to a lot of managers who aren’t sure what to tell the rest of the staff when another staff member is struggling or is let go. This can get particularly tricky when people may be hearing an inaccurate version of events from the staffer who’s having trouble. In this piece, our own Alison Green writes that in some cases, misinformation “can do real damage to people’s morale and to their trust in the employer’s integrity if you don’t correct it” and offers advice for how to determine if you need to correct the record – and what to say if you do.

Race matters in mentoring

Having influential mentors can be enormously important in helping people of color advance professionally, writes Professor David Thomas in this Harvard Business Review piece. Thomas’s research found that for many people of color, mentoring relationships created opportunities for more challenging assignments, helped them gain credibility with the rest of the organization, and provided crucial advice and counsel, and that mentors “often became powerful sponsors later in the minority executives’ careers, recruiting them repeatedly to new positions (and) often protected their protégés by confronting subordinates or peers who leveled unfair criticism, especially if it had racial undertones.” Of course, the inequity that the article highlights is highly problematic – but as the article shows, a concrete way for managers to counter the biases behind that inequity is to make real efforts to mentor people of color.

Poor communication is often a symptom of a different problem

When people complain of poor communication in an organization, the problem may not be quite what it seems, write Art Markman in this HBR piece. Very often the problem isn’t communication itself (and thus creating more meetings, emails, and so forth won’t solve it), but rather is a symptom that something else is wrong. He suggests that managers would do better to investigate what’s truly impeding people’s effectiveness, that the real answer might be something else, like lack of clear roles or clear structure.

In addition to the culprits Markman suggests, in our experience complaints about poor communication could mean everything from having someone poorly suited to the job in a key central role (i.e., you don’t need more communications, you need a better communicator or problem solver) to the need for a less hierarchical culture where it’s just easier to ask questions.

Could time-blocking replace your to-do list?

If your to-do list for the day or week is typically one long list, you might benefit from switching to time-blocking. The idea with time-blocking – as explained in Gwen Moran’s Fast Company piece – is that you organize your day in a series of time slots and assign each of those slots to a particular task or tasks. You’re able to batch small things together, preserve longer blocks for tougher or more time-consuming projects, and – crucially – see how much free time you actually have (or don’t) each day and how long tasks really take you. Ultimately, “the goal is to make sure they you always have an intentional plan for the time that remains in the workday.”

As always, we hope you find these resources useful in your work.


Jerry Hauser and Alison Green
The Management Center

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