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How to successfully onboard high-potential teams to become high-performing teams

Published on 23 Mar 2023 by Stuart Harris

As outlined by Michael T. Watkins, the first ninety days are key for new joiners, especially if they are high-potential talents. How they behave and act will affect if they succeed or fail, and first impressions are difficult to change.

What sets a high-performing team apart is developed in the onboarding process first, the first ninety days, and secondly in the creation of a community to continue their growth for the coming years.

So, how can you, as an organisation, set your new talents up for success? How can you ensure that their first ninety days result in success? How can you onboard a high-potential team to become a high-performing team?

Here’s what you should do:

  1. Create a plan
  2. When hiring a new high-potential team, you can’t just expect them to know everything about the organisation from day one. Define what a high-performing team is to your organisation and create a plan because if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Create a 90-day plan (or a 30-60-90-day plan, whatever works for you) with specific, measurable goals, priorities, expectations and key milestones that you envision for this team.

  3. Provide the right tools for the team to learn and align effortlessly
  4. A structured learning process will set the team up for success. It’s important for the team to identify what they need to learn and then learn it as fast as they can. This ranges from business and people to culture and politics, to trends and competition. They need to be able to invest time in learning to avoid poor decision-making. Help them to leverage information sources and provide frameworks where needed.

  5. Support the team to develop healthy relationships
  6. It’s important for new joiners to build productive relationships within the organisation. You can help them to do so by being open, showing them the ropes and introducing them to the stakeholders they will be working with.

  7. Give them the chance to establish credibility
  8. Allow new joiners to make decisions where suitable so that they can establish credibility or learn the right ways to deal with difficult situations. Allow them to secure early, meaningful wins that align with the organisation. Based on this, by the end of the first 90 days, your organisation should know whether or not this team is going to be successful.

  9. Assess alignments and lay the groundwork for community building
  10. In their first 90 days, assess the alignment of the team. How are they aligned with the mission, vision and values, with the strategies, processes and coordination? Assess their capabilities and design a plan for correcting potential misalignments. This is where you also align the team members to build up their network of peers.

Here are some other suggestions that can help to set new high-potential teams up for success:

  • Let the new recruits read “The First 90 Days” by Michael T. Watkins
  • Assign a buddy or mentor who will invest time to support them, to answer questions and share advice
  • Build a community for the team where they share resources
  • Get to know the new joiners outside of work during a lunch break or at the coffee machine
  • Bring in experts to run a professional onboarding program. Here are some onboarding programs that you could consider.

The better you onboard a high-potential team, the sooner they will deliver impact and key results. Building a high-performing team gives you extraordinary leverage and the first 90 days are crucial to do so, to identify behaviour patterns and make the necessary changes. But training doesn’t stop after the onboarding.

After the first ninety days, let go of the low performers and hold a team building program for the remaining team members to foster bonds within the team.

From here on, you can focus on fine-tuning their performance to achieve the goals outlined in the plan.

Here’s to structured and immersive onboarding!

Stuart Harris

Co-Founder and Managing Director at Team Building Asia

Stuart Harris has built Team Building Asia into Asia's most prestigious and effective team building company.

Interested finding out more about Team Building Asia programs?

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