Coaching a New Joiner ~ Leader as Coach: When to use a Coach Approach

new joinerYou have a new member on your team, new to the organisation even.  How do you support and challenge them?  If they don’t know how to do the job, then of course, training is the right intervention, at least to start with.  But if they have already done the job somewhere else, and are motivated (which you would hope would be true for a new joiner), then you can use more of a coach-approach, asking them questions that help them to figure out how to apply what they already know to this new context.

This is also a good opportunity for you to ask them what does motivate them, so that you can provide opportunities that align with their motivations.  Don’t assume that what motivates you will motivate everyone else.  

Making a Great Ending

But wait, we’re getting ahead of ourselves.  We have an opportunity to support a person to make a good ending in their old job before they even start with us.  That might seem like we’re giving a service to the old organisation, and perhaps that’s true – but more importantly, we are helping the individual to decide which baggage to leave behind and which to bring with them into this new role.  Making a great ending is crucial to making a stellar beginning.

So, pre-joining, you might ask your new joiner:

  • What are you leaving behind that you don’t need here in this new role?
  • What are you bringing with you? (this isn’t about encouraging unethical behaviour around contact lists and competitor materials, but more about their skills)
  • What would it be useful to know before turning up on day one?  How can you go about finding out this data and information – who can help you?
  • How can you get yourself physically and mentally fit for the new start?
  • How can you organise yourself to be effective with new systems and processes to manage your time and energy?
  • Who and how do you want to be in this new role?  How can you bring the best of who you are into this unique culture?

A Good Start

On joining, there are new things to reflect upon, such as:

  • What would be the most useful way for you to get clear about the new job and the contribution you are expected to make?
  • How will you get alignment with the expectations your stakeholders need you to step up to
  • How will you build great relationships with all your stakeholders, including your boss, your peers, your supporters and detractors, and your team members

Then two to four months in, you’ll be ready to discuss:

  • Early wins; stepping up to challenges, rather than waiting for others to hold their hand.
  • Making the best decisions to suit this culture and context, and for the long-term success of the business.
  • Aligning priorities, culture, people, organisational structure, processes, technology to achieve the strategy and performance metrics.

Changing organisations can be a stressful time, and a place of not knowing, which can be uncomfortable.  It may be that you aren’t the right person to coach this new joiner, as they may not want to admit to not knowing things or feeling vulnerable; but coaching will be invaluable with a more neutral person if that is not you

There is business sense in investing at this stage of a person’s employee experience too, as the new joiner is more likely to figure out in a shorter space of time how they can add value to this new culture – and then start adding that value.  The alternative is people who stick out like a sore thumb, and who are rejected by the system.

You might also like to remind yourself about transitions, as the psychological stuff will get in the way of the task if you don’t attend to it.

You might like to look back at some of the other blog posts in this series ‘ When to use a Coach Approach’.


Leader as Coach: When to use a Coach Approach ~ Giving Frequent Feedback

Leader as Coach: When to use a Coach Approach ~ One to Ones