Why before what and how
In Dallas, at an international conference of CEOs, Simon Sinek, author of Start With Why, talked about how great leaders inspire everyone to take action.
More than 100 business leaders across more than one dozen countries listened as he talked about our human drive to cooperate. While cartoons might depict CEOs as dictating from an ivory tower to workers below, nobody knows better than a good leader the importance and power that comes from people working together for a common cause.
What mediocre leaders don’t understand is that it’s tough for people to rally together for a stronger profit margin alone. Our brains don’t think like that. But stronger profit margins are exactly what happen when people band together for something that calls them forth to become more than what they thought was possible.
Forgive me for not recalling who Simon was quoting when he said, “To go fast, go alone. To go far, go together.” When new employees begin their journey with your organization, are there opportunities for them to “go together?” Is it the intent of your onboarding process to ramp people up quickly or to ramp people up quickly and encourage them to stay for the long term?
Listening to Simon and studying his book, it occurred to me that most of the onboarding programs I’ve reviewed over the past decade have been focused on what I do rather than why we do it. I’m not saying onboarding should be all about the why, but sharing the why before explaining the what and how sure makes makes for a more successful long-term program.
Here are two quick and easy recommendations to add some “why” to your existing onboarding program.
- CEO Fireside Chat. The “why” message is best delivered by the top brass. In less than 10 minutes you could record a short video clip about the current vision on the company and examples of how people have demonstrated the value of the organization. Keep people connected to the why from a leadership perspective on a frequent basis by recording clips quarterly and distributing to all.
- Ask the team about their individual “why” and discover what has people leap out of bed to do their job. Share these and spotlight super stars with passionate “whys.” If you don’t discover any “whys” among your current team, it’s time to get back to basics and communicate your vision to get the ball rolling.
Include these elements in your onboarding process. When people understand the vision you see they are more likely and willing to cooperate and help you get there.