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Onboarding Someone New

Onboarding Someone New By Siobhan Murphy {4 minutes to read} When someone new joins an organization, one of the biggest derailers can be their inability to assimilate well into the culture. Another obstacle is relying on past skills that worked for them in their old job when new skills may be required. They think that what got them here will get them there.

It costs organizations approximately 30% of salary to recruit, hire and train a mid-level manager, and it takes some time for them to start contributing. Leaders can assist their new hires to assimilate quickly and contribute to the organization faster. With some planning, the leader can assist the new person to create a 30-60-90 day plan to make a contribution quickly.

Profiles International has made a really helpful distinction between orientation and onboarding.

Orientation is where you introduce someone to all of the people in the organization, go over the employee handbook and how to get paid, as well as all of the administrative details of getting to know a company. Orientation may even include some of the vision, mission, and values of the organization.

Onboarding is about helping the person become useful quickly, contributing to the organization as fast as possible.

Who is Important?

The leader can help the new person identify the most important people to meet, and start building a rapport and relationship with them, whether internally or externally:

  • Colleagues
  • Peers
  • Other leaders in the organization


  • Shareholders
  • Donors
  • Clients
  • Business partners

Define the Early Win

The next thing the leader can help the new hire think through is what would an early win look like? If somebody is ramping up in a new position, what’s something that would really help the person make their mark on the organization? It might be:

  • Making a sale with a particular customer;
  • Getting a highly valued donor;
  • Streamlining a particular process;
  • Turning around a certain team.

Helping new a employee really focus on an early win will give them credibility and impact in the organization.

Know the Culture

The next main point is to think through the culture, helping the person know the power structure. What are the written and unwritten rules of how things get done in the organization?

Describing the culture and helping the new person understand it requires the leader to think like an outsider coming into the organization:

  • What is our culture?
  • How do things get done here?
  • What are some absolute no-no’s that will keep you in “outsider” status?
  • What are some things that can really demonstrate you can be a part of this organization?

Know the Processes

One of the daunting tasks a new employee faces is learning the multiple systems needed to do the work. You can’t learn them all well at the same time, so prioritize the systems and processes to be learned.

In closing, leaders can support their new hires’ success by thinking strategically and helping them ramp up quickly to leverage their contribution. Here are a couple of books I can recommend:

The Politics of Promotion, by Bonnie Markus

The First 90 Days, by Michael T. Watkins

What techniques have you used to successfully onboard someone new?

Siobhan Murphy
Speaker, Facilitator, Executive Coach
[email protected]

Comments Off on Move from the Battlefield to the Playing Field

Move from the Battlefield to the Playing Field

Relationships are a key factor in the success of any enterprise.  Yet, many of us approach relationships with staff, clients and even our “to do” lists as if we were doing battle.   Shifting your way of being from being a critic to being an accomplished player on a winning team can shift your relationships and create new possibilities.

In my work as a Leadership and Career Coach, I worked with Jean, a successful CEO.  Jean had an upcoming meeting with her business partner Ellen to discuss a soured client relationship.  Her stomach tightened and a frown came over her face.  Disagreements between them often degenerated into sulking or shouting.  Things just didn’t get resolved.  It was frustrating to Jean, and worse, the unresolved problems were costing her money.

In order to shift the situation, Jean learned that she couldn’t just DO something differently, she needed to BE different while she was doing it.  I showed her that she was approaching the situation as if she was gearing up to do battle every time she met with Ellen.   Dukes raised, head ready to butt, she showed up tense and tight.  With that attitude, she actually shut down possibilities and limited her own vision.  When we are focused on our fears, we literally close down our peripheral vision.  Creative solutions become difficult if not impossible.

We practiced the meeting in advance from the perspective of four ways of being.  The first stage is the “Drama” stage.  This is ordinary human drama that results in stalemates, arguments, and negative feelings.  I encouraged her to get off her chest exactly what was bothering her about the way Ellen was handling the client without censoring anything.  This provided a release for Jean and she could hear how she sounded playing the Drama Queen.

Next, she played the scene as Ellen and I played “Jean the Drama Queen.”  Jean got to experience how she sounds when she’s geared for battle.  She didn’t like what she heard!

In the next stage, I asked Jean to play the scenario as if she was a logical, rational, problem solving intellectual.  Faced with a dilemma, how would she propose that she and Ellen resolve the client situation?  This appealed to Jean as she prided herself on being smart.  She came up with two or three possible ways to resolve the problem.  Jean came up with some ideas but they felt flat.

Now I stretched Jean.  What if we moved to a playing field?  In the world of sport, you can play with intensity and still recognize that you’re playing a game.  What if Jean and Ellen were on the same team trying to create a win for all involved?    If she was a kid creating a solution with Ellen, what could that look like?  I find in working with entrepreneurs and leaders, that the “Play” stage is often the most difficult for people to act out.  Jean came up with some more creative ideas and recognized that she felt more relaxed in her body and more innovative in her approach.

Finally, I asked Jean to name someone she revered.   Who would she naturally be on her best behavior with?  I’ve gotten some pretty interesting responses to this question.  Some pick a spiritual figure like Buddha, the Christ, and Mother Theresa.  One woman offered Brad Pitt.  A group of CFO’s would be on their very best behavior with Warren Buffett.   When you are in the presence of someone you revere, you naturally bring your “A” game.

Jean picked Steve Jobs as she was an Apple fan and loved Steve’s commitment to his vision.  “OK,” I said, “let’s run through this scenario as if you are meeting with Steve, not Ellen.  How will you approach this meeting?”  The effect of this question was amazing.  Jean actually looked shocked!  She realized that she had been holding Ellen in disdain and blaming her for the problem.  When we role-played the meeting with Jean acting as if she were Steve Jobs, her voice softened, her gaze intensified, her body posture opened.  I was looking at a different woman!

Having tried on four different ways of being in advance of the meeting, Jean was ready to try a new approach with Ellen.  She invited Ellen into a new kind of conversation between them where they would play a game of creating a winning situation for them all.   She practiced reverence for this long time partner and created a solution that pleased and surprised them both.

Coach’s question:  Who are you being while you are doing what you are doing?

Comments Off on Getting Comfortable with being Uncomfortable

Getting Comfortable with being Uncomfortable

My bonus son, Jon, has opened a Crossfit gym in Islip (

Crossfit is a workout that is constantly varied, functional movement at high intensity.

While going through my orientation with Jon, I weakly asked him to “be gentle with me.”

He said, “Siobhan, you have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.”

As a coach, I know this, but when applied to my physical comfort, well, I was letting myself slide.

When clients move towards their dreams and stretch themselves to reach for bigger goals, resistance is an inevitable and predictable next step in the journey.  Knowing this, we can name it as resistance and create strategies for moving through it.  In this way, an obstacle becomes a hurdle to jump over and not a permanent block to progress.  It also moves the conversation from internal mud wrestling with your inner critic that sounds like this:  “What’s the matter with me?  Why can’t I do this?  I’m such a clutz!” etc.  No!  Try:  “I’m experiencing resistance and need to move through it.”

Entrepreneurs can experience discomfort when trying on new leadership behaviors like delegating to others instead of doing it all themselves.  Other challenges I’ve heard include:  firing someone who is not a good fit, learning to ask questions to develop employee’s thinking instead of telling them what to do, or starting meetings on time and running them effectively.

I’m a creature who likes her comforts.  Safe, comfortable, and pleasant are my default preferences.  But if I want a stronger body, or to reach a new big goal, I have to get comfortable with discomfort.

How do you do that?

Embrace the discomfort instead of fighting it.

I live near the ocean, so the waves offer a great metaphor.  Anyone who’s swum in the ocean has had the experience of being toppled by a big wave.  You are turned upside down, salt water comes into your mouth, sand is in your hair, and your bathing suit turns around in… ahem… unflattering ways.  Yet, if I see the wave in advance, I can dive under it.  And while the feeling is intense for a few moments, I arrive at the other side of the wave intact.  So embrace your discomfort.  Notice how it shows up in you.  What sensations does it offer?  Where do you feel it in your body?  In what circumstances?

Get support.

Any time we are stretching ourselves to grow is a good time to ask for support.  In the case of Crossfit, I can use my coaches and the other members of the gym to spur me on.  In fact, that’s one of the appeals of this gym – the community that’s created.  Can you ask your friends or family to support you?  What does support look like for you?  For some, it’s a regular check-in on progress.  For others, it’s encouragement.  And, of course, athletes, actors and entrepreneurs use coaches to get an outside perspective on their performance.

Identify your fears.

Fear is a normal part of the experience of growing.  It’s helpful to name these bogeymen so we know what we are dealing with.  In Crossfit, I was afraid of pain and of getting hurt.  I learned that pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.  If I paced myself, and did exercise suited to my level of ability, I can minimize the pain.  If I took time to go through the orientation, and learned the correct form of the exercises, I could minimize the chances of getting hurt.  I realized that there was a risk of getting hurt by NOT exercising, just by living my day to day life with weaker muscles and less flexibility.

Celebrate your wins.

Acknowledge the baby steps of your growth.  This builds in resilience.  We don’t have to wait until we lose all the weight, or develop all the strength, in order to appreciate that we’re moving in the right direction.  For me, I acknowledge myself just for walking in to the gym and logging in to the tracking system.  Anything I do after that is gravy.

What strategies do you use to move through discomfort?

Thanks Jon for the reminder:  Discomfort is my friend if I want to keep growing stronger.


Resilience — the new leadership skill

Resilience is the new “must have” Leadership skill in these times of tremendous change.   Resilience is the ability to bounce back from a challenging event and  to respond in a positive and adaptive manner.  I suggest we think of it as springing forward to a new stronger way of being after a challenge or tragedy.  What can you do to increase your own resilience?  Studies show that the most resilient practice these  behaviors and attitudes:

Acknowledge the loss and the pain.  This is an important step.  We can’t just gloss over the feelings.  Express them through sharing with friends, having a good cry, or journaling.  The release of emotions will allow you to think more clearly and access your problem solving skills.  It’s helpful to have safe people to open up to about how you feel.

Acceptance.  Don’t fight what has occurred.  Practice loving what is.  Our own resistance to what has happened gets in the way of our ability to face it and access our creativity to address it.

Refuse to be a victim.  When disaster strikes, the news media and others label the participant “victims.”  Don’t buy into this label.  Victim energy is very disempowering.  Move from victim to victor.  Identify as a survivor instead of a powerless victim.

Be resourceful.  People who hold the belief that they can do something to better their situation are less traumatized than those who don’t.  There is no situation that cannot be bettered in even a small way.  When I waited on line for gas for hours, I was able to read a book, listen to Spanish language CD’s and have a delicious lunch my husband delivered to my car. 

Be open to receiving help.  Those around you want to give to you.  It’s a natural impulse when we see suffering and loss to want to help.  Let the help come.  Giving and receiving are two sides of the same coin.  You may be the receiver now, but you are giving a gift to the giver too.  In the circle of life, you’ll have an opportunity to give to another and see how your experience can benefit others.

Ask for the help you need.  If offers are not coming, or if there’s something else, you need, speak up! Sometimes just asking someone to listen is helpful.  Be specific.  It’s OK to need after a tragic event. My colleague Sharon is battling cancer.  She’s used the Caring Bridge – a website for those dealing with illness – to keep her family and friends up to date and stay connected.  We’re with her every step of the journey and can offer encouragement and support.

Help others.  To help move from the victim mentality, look for someone else you can help even if it’s just a smile or a prayer.  There are always those who have it a little worse than you and you can be of service to them.

Look for meaning in the event.  My favorite question is “What’s perfect about this?” holding the attitude of “I can hardly wait to see the good that’s coming from this!”  These channel my thoughts to the good in situations and help me to anticipate and look for blessings in everything.

What step can you take today to develop your resilience muscle?


Renewal is essential for high performance

Summer is a great time for renewal and new life and The Quest Connection is proud to offer several workshops to assist you in your business and personal renewal. I recently listened to author Tony Schwarz on the importance of renewal to high performance no matter what field you play in. He offers four main areas to practice renewal daily: Physical, Mental, Emotional and Spiritual.

His most important tip: take the first 90 minutes of your day to focus on the most important project on your plate. This is a high performance part of the day and we work in natural cycles of 90 minutes.

Renew your Business through Innovative Thinking:
Moving from Surviving to Thriving in the New Economy


Kurt Vonnegut said, “I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all the kinds of things you can’t see from the center.”

It’s pretty clear whether we like it or not, a lot of us are on an edge we didn’t ask for.

So now what do you do?

Do you shrink back in fear or do you get curious, even a little bit excited, and look over the edge into the precipice. That’s what some fledgling, but insightful companies did in previous downturns — and today they are the ones you remember, like Apple and Microsoft, both founded in the middle of an oil crisis and the terrible recession of the mid-1970s.

Similarly, this moment in time presents a vast opportunity for entrepreneurs and small business people to think different and to think big. Steve Jobs and Bill Gates didn’t make the mistake of postponing innovation initiatives until the worst of the storm blew over, and you shouldn’t either. In the current “changing of the guard”, as some of the bigger dominant businesses fall away, those of us willing to innovate and produce new kinds of goods and services in new, economic ways – will have a much clearer field in which to grow.


The “What if….?” Game

There’s a new game to play with your mind! Joe Vitale, of “The Secret” fame, wrote about this in his blog. ( Many of us use our imagination in a negative way. When we feel threatened, we start thinking “what if”… and then some awful fear we have. You know: What if I lose my job, what if I can’t retire, etc. Or while skiing, what if I break my leg? I imagine you have your own personal nightmare you can visit if you let yourself!

Well, the what if, up! game takes a new approach. Instead of “what if, down…” you can play “What if…something wonderful occurs.” So, fed up with all the negative news about “the economy”, I decided to play “What if…Up!” instead.

What if the changes to our economy make me a more thoughtful purchaser of goods and services?

What if this environment makes me more innovative in my business? A better negotiator? A stronger salesperson?

What if I’m able to tap more resources of courage, resiliency and creativity than before?

What if I bring my spending in line with my most important values?

What if I now take time to enjoy the parts of life that don’t cost anything?

What if this “correction” allows me to make better choices for myself?

What if these changing times bring me to a simpler existence that gives me more space and less stuff?

What if it challenges my creativity in the kitchen?

You get the idea! If it has come to you, it has come for you. (Not against you.) I can hardly wait to see what good is coming from the changes of recent times! There, I feel better already.


The 15 Minute Miracle

I’ve been practicing a way to keep my vibration high every day. It’s called the 15 minute miracle. (See

Here’s how it works.  Use a timer and grab a notebook and a pen. Set the timer for 7.5 minutes. Write at the top of a page: I am so happy and grateful for: and keep writing until the timer goes off. It’s amazing to me how many wonderful things occur each day that may escape my grateful attention until I start writing. For example, today, I am grateful for a lovely visit with my sister-in-law and brother-in-law for lunch. We caught up on family and enjoyed each other’s company including meaningful conversation. I’m grateful for my local florist who created two lovely bouquets for me today, one of which was free as I’m a frequent shopper! I appreciate the hug I got from my 3 year old neighbor, John, who is delightfully curious about all of our activities and for the welcome home greeting from another 3 year old in the neighborhood named Gavin. I appreciate speaking with my brother on the occasion of his birthday today and the memoires I have of meeting him for the first time when I was five. And so it goes for 7.5 minutes. Then I turn the page, set the timer for another 15 minutes and start writing about the future things I want to bring into my world: I am so grateful that I now attract: Tickets to Spain at a wonderful rate, a business manager for my business, the perfect attendees to join me in my new venture called “Harmony in the Home.” Continue writing for 7.5 minutes getting into the feeling of having those items right now.

What I’ve noticed since I began this practice is that my wish list comes down to some basic essences. It’s not the stuff but the experience. So, I want freedom, expansion, fulfillment, etc. And when I’m clear about the essences, I can focus on the areas in my life where I already have those essences. Vibrating in those essences today, I more easily attract more of the same in the future.

Try it! It’s only 15 minutes and it feels great!


"Coaching with you is the best thing I do for myself-- I can go to my deepest places and come out with creative approaches that inspire me and transform scary situations into powerful results. I use my coaching experience with you as a touchstone for my passion about how coaching can change the world."
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