Want to avoid the chameleon effect on new recruits?
What are you recruiting for? A cultural fit into the team or something different to bring about change? If it's the latter, are you ready for the change your new recruit will bring now and later on down the line?
In my experience as a coach, team player and leader, it is one thing knowing that you need something to change and another being prepared to embark on the journey of letting go of the current and making the transition towards the new. To expect one person to come in and act as the catalyst through either their way of being or their experience is a tall order.
"The desire to be appreciated for our unique originality and difference strongly competes with our desire to belong and fit in."
Before you know it, your new recruit has become part of the fixtures and fittings. The chameleon effect has taken place. In learning how to exist within the company, they have lost their originality and conformed. I've often heard it said that it takes 3-6 months to settle into a company and learn the ropes. It's a double edged sword, we want new recruits to feel settled, but we want them to maintain the essence of why we recruited them in order to stimulate change.
So what can you do to minimise this risk and hold onto the change you are seeking? Here's my five step plan for supporting the system when the change you are trying to effect really matters:
1. Be clear about your intention for change: Be realistic about what one person can create. Identify supporting people and structures to enable your new recruit on arrival.
2. Prepare yourself and the team for what change will mean: What will you need to let go of to allow new ways to emerge? Uncover attachments to the current and assumptions about the future?
3. Share your intention with the candidate from the point of interview. Like salmon, you want them to swim up stream and there will be bears along the way but you will be there to help the water flow fast
4. On welcoming your new recruit, gather your team together and courageously and openly explore what change will mean and how you will collectively work through the difficult spots.
5. Provide either individual or group coaching to the new recruit, yourself and any specific team members for the first 3 months.
In one coaching situation, where the organisation had bought in the new recruit to bring their years of experience of working differently to a positive effect, I was called to support the new recruit with their transition into the team and the business. My choice was to work with both the line manager and the new recruit as both were in need of support in their equal but very different transitions.
This five step plan differs from traditional onboard coaching as it works with all the people involved, not just the new recruit. It shares the responsibility out across the team, rather than landing it at the feet of the new recruit to fit in. It starts before the role is advertised and continues after day 1 in order to improve the group's capacity to respond to and create change.
The pressure to be a chameleon can be subconsciously much greater than we realise and can easily be avoided by paying attention to attachments to what is current, preparation to let go and open discussion about how to stay connected when you meet the bears up the river ahead. Save time, save money and save disappointment and minimise unhelpful friction in the team.
Felicity Hodkinson is Founder of Bend the River, and brings over 20 years of commercial experience in small and corporate businesses to her individual and group coaching relationships. To experience the five step plan and be uniquely supported when recruiting for change, drop an email to Bend the River.