How Much Hand-Holding? Onboarding and Situational Leadership

Hersey and Blanchard’s concept of Situational Leadership dictates that we provide a level of leadership and attention that is appropriate to a follower’s levels of expertise and motivation.

Often, leaders believe they are “empowering” and “granting autonomy” by being hands-off, and letting people learn on their own.

While that sounds good, it only works in cases where the person being led has high levels of motivation and expertise.

A new hire, on the other hand, has a high level of motivation and enthusiasm, but a low level of expertise, so this requires more direction. (At later points, when the expertise has grown, this would be considered micromanaging.)

A simple rule of thumb to apply for new tasks and new people: If the task is X, you or the trainer do 75% of the first X, then 50% of the second X, then ask “how much do you want me to do with this?” for the third X. Expect them to do the fourth X on their own, checking it with you or the trainer before delivering it, then let them do the fifth X all on their own. Tweak this rule of thumb for your situation.

For example, one of Ashleigh’s tasks is completing speaker request forms. Some require a lot of information, and can be as much as 5 pages long. The first go-around, I completely filled them out, explaining each part to her. The second time around, she was able to do about 70% of it. Now, a month later? During our one-on-one, she might say “I submitted another round” or “I’m almost done with the Vandelay Industries form, but there are 2 bits that I haven’t seen before – can you check them out for me?”

If I’d expected her to do the first round all by herself, she would have been overwhelmed, and there would have been much “re-work.” If I were still doing 80% of the work, then my time wouldn’t be well used, and she might not be motivated because she wouldn’t feel as though she’s contributing.

Next week – The weekly one-on-one.

Thanks for reading,

Alan Feirer

Ashleigh’s Input – No one likes being micromanaged, but what is equally (if not more) uncomfortable is being hired and left alone to find out how your boss wants things done. I’ve been there – it’s frustrating. It’s important to be flexible when training. I’m thankful Alan is taking the approach above (as long as he keeps the scary micromanaging word away).

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