If you onboarded emerging leaders or managers during COVID, what worked and what didn't?

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Director Business Technology in Software, 10,001+ employees
I've had to onboard and coach people remotely. With one person, it reached the point where I started doing skip-level one-on-ones with her, because we recognized she would end up being a people leader very soon. She did become one and now she's crushing it.

But it wasn't that different, to be honest. We had one-on-ones every week, went over scenarios and achievable goals for a first-time manager, and ensured she was hitting those goals. A lot of it is getting the person to understand that they don't know what they don't know, and providing a much broader context for what it means to be a leader. A lot of people just don't know how to handle various situations.

I've noticed that many emerging leaders react to their increased responsibility with, "Oh man, I have two jobs now." It's funny, because as their mentor you think, "You're going to have 10 jobs eventually." That's shocking to people. They're like, "I have a project I'm actually running, and then I have to manage this other person who's not performing?” And it doesn't get better. It gets worse. So you need to do a lot of expectation setting, goal setting and coaching. It didn't change when we went remote. We just did it all over Google Hangouts.
SVP in Finance (non-banking), 1,001 - 5,000 employees
As someone who did a decent amount of hiring during COVID, and then changed jobs myself, I have two perspectives. We did a terrible job of recruiting and hiring early in the pandemic. Our interviewing skills didn't scale with the change in operating model, especially when it came to leadership hires. We did a good job of finding the right people to join the organization when we were doing things in-person because our interview process involved socializing with the candidates and getting to know them, which didn't work during the pandemic.

As a result, we were less sticky for the new hires that joined at the time, because the process was just over Zoom. They never really got to build a relationship and we had turnover because of that. If we weren't in that situation, those individuals would have developed better relationships and would have had more invested in the company from a time-energy perspective, which could have been a hook to keep them around.

Then I switched companies during COVID, and we were remote for the first two-and-a-half months. It was fine because I was just learning the company dynamics and culture, but I don't think I would have been as effective if I was constantly remote. A lot of the relationships you need to build in a leadership role come from social interactions. If you have to schedule a Zoom call for everything, it's not going to work because you won’t have the time to schedule them all. It's a real challenge for leaders to have an impact and gain credibility if they are fully remote, especially if they're new to the organization.
Senior Executive Advisor in Software, 10,001+ employees
Hiring leaders during the pandemic has been hit or miss in certain pockets because we're approaching it the old way, and building trust remotely is difficult. It’s hard to translate nonverbal cues and create social bonding as a digital experience, so that's where it falls apart. But I've conducted group sessions with newer leaders, similar to a coaching circle. With four or five emerging leaders, we run the Six Hats Experiment with a situation that’s occurred. In the Six Hats Experiment, there are six different ways of thinking that are each represented by a different color hat. When you're wearing one of the hats, you have to think from the particular perspective it represents. You could be thinking emotionally, or from a problem-solving perspective, or from a tactical perspective. We run the experiment with what-if scenarios as well, so that they get a multifaceted view of the same problem — how people might think, respond, or react — and that seems to have worked well.

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