“The typical onboarding process emphasizes just how important that status quo is and makes questioning it even harder,” Ron Ashkenas, partner Emeritus at Schaffer Consulting, writes for HBR. New leaders may find long-standing onboarding processes make it harder for them to implement change “because of the focus they place on fitting in,” Ashkenas writes. “It’s already an uphill battle for new leaders to question the status quo: Natural psychology leads us to want to belong to a social group and go along with colleagues just to fit in,” he notes.
One way companies can help new leaders to implement change is by creating an onboarding process tied to a specific near-term challenge and asking them to regularly report important observations from key players. “To take full advantage of [new leaders’] qualities, don’t mire them in endless learning about the organization as it is now,” Ashkenas writes. “Instead, challenge them to find opportunities for learning that will help them shape the future.”