Leadership is Calling Episode #53
Barbara Schindler & Heather McGonigal

Onboarding A-Players: Strategies for Managing Energy & Expectations

“The onboarding process is key to harnessing new hire enthusiasm, managing expectations, and enabling A-players to contribute their skills effectively.” – Barbara Schindler, COO

Are you excited about your new hire, but worried they’re moving too fast or might burn out? You’re not alone! Harnessing the energy of high-potential employees (A-players) during onboarding is crucial for their success and your team’s growth.

Bringing top talent into your organization takes more than just hiring. Excellent new hires need thorough onboarding to integrate well. Set aligned expectations so new hires learn the organization before driving changes. Take an inclusive approach that manages enthusiasm and enables new hires to contribute fully.

In this video, leadership experts Barbara Schindler and Heather McGonigal share proven strategies to help you

Key Points
  • Congratulate and welcome A-players but view their hiring as the beginning of a process.
  • Have a structured onboarding plan to integrate new hires, no matter their experience level.
  • Manage expectations of new hires – they should learn the organization before driving changes.
  • Harness new hire enthusiasm by setting aligned pacing and expectations.
  • Take an inclusive approach to onboarding that sets up new hires for success.
Related Resources

Leadership Skills: How to Hire ‘A’ Players eGuide
Leadership Development Articles: How to Hire the Right PeopleHow to Keep ‘A’ Players – 3 Company Keys
Downloadable Leadership Tool: The 5-Day Appreciation Journal: A Culture of Caring

High Performance Teams need Role Clarity - Cartoon fitting people into shapes - Leading Edge Teams

Auto-Generated Transcript – unedited version

Onboarding A-Players: Strategies for Managing Energy & Expectations


Hey Heather. Question of the day for you to chat about and process. Here’s the question: So what do you do when you have an excellent hire? You get an A player, and they get on the team and they’re running too fast.

Well, I love this question. And like, I guess first thing, congratulations on hiring an A player! That’s the goal itself. And then I guess the second thing is kind of like instead of thinking of that as the end point – we found the person, we hired the A player – this is just the beginning. This is just the beginning. And um, you and your question about running fast, I think of, Barbara like, um, it’s natural for them to come in and be wanting to run fast because if they are A players they’ve had some kind of success all along the way that has been self-driven. And then when you pick them, they want to prove that they made the right choice and so they tend to come out of the gate kind of fast.

I actually sort of feel in a joking kind of way if you hire someone and they don’t want to make a great impression at the beginning and kind of have an intensity about that’s a big red flag. Like oh maybe, you know, it’s like you kind of want to see that because you know the human default mode and how our brain works with the amygdala and survival mode, right? The best A players will try to prove their worth and come out strong out of the gate to have an impact, right? Or just to contribute. Like they actually, you know, that they want to, they want to automatically be bringing change and success. Like it’s coming from a really good place which is why I say kind of if you don’t see it, well I guess the only thing if you don’t see it but they actually were trained by us, it might be something different. But it’ll be good, it still be apparent but they might have it harnessed. And part of that question, when I came with that question, was like, you know in my thinking as I was answering the question while I was asking it was like, how do we harness that energy proactively? Because otherwise, you know, there’s a little cleanup or stumbling that happens at the same time. We don’t want to squelch it and we don’t want them to come in holding it back too much, right?

So how do we harness that enthusiasm, harness their enthusiasm, harness their talent, let them know that their expertise will be put to good use here?

I think it’s like uh, in the way I was trying to answer in the beginning was like, this is a collective mindset shift. Like you, the person uh now with this new team player doing the onboarding, and they’re coming strong and fast – like remember this is just the beginning. Now there’s an onboarding phase for what it actually means to be applying your skills as the new hire in this particular company. And it’s also a mindset shift for the A player to have that: don’t worry about needing to knock it out of the gate and prove your worth, don’t be driven by that, don’t be driven by that uh you know that amygdala response of your emotions. Instead know that we know we found a good hire in you and we want to set you up for success. So there is a process here and really the best leaders do know that I want want to come in and really learn this organization so that I can best apply my skills here as opposed to when you’re coming hard and fast and you’re ready to implement those positive changes that you were itching to implement, you know, when you submitted your resume you were thinking I could probably help them with this, you know, so you already excited. Um, and instead learning that it that inside this company being curious about how it really operates and then bringing your gifts into application in a fuller way.

I’m thinking of what there’s a leader who’s in one of our programs. Uh, she’s been working with us for several years and she’s had this opportunity uh to move into a a new organization with her skills as a project manager. And as we were talking and she was in this transition – you know like the week before she was actually going to start in the new role as she was closing out her old role – she was like, oh my gosh, I’m already thinking of so many, like she was getting all like excited, like I’m thinking of so many things I can bring and share in this new role, in this new company. And then she paused herself, right? And she’s like, of course I’m not there yet and I’ll have to first, you know, see where they are at. Of course, you know, she caught herself to be in that. And we want both.

And you’re right, we want to, you know, in our hiring process it’s not like okay you’re here, it’s it’s next, next step has a structure to it to set them up for success. And no matter what level of uh you know of the role that they’re coming in with responsibilities and authority, you still need this step to say here’s how we’re going to introduce you into the landscape of this company and you know the structure and organizational how we function here. And that orientation is such an important part of the onboarding process. So uh, yeah, you want to hire well but then we know that there really is, you know, a 30 60 90 day process that you want to be very mindful of in your leadership uh to bring people in that way.

Yes and and just to emphasize – so, so important – don’t be intimidated if you have an A hire that has impressive experience. You know this idea. Let’s make this idea that in order to set you up for success, we do have a process of onboarding now that you’re fully here. And just letting people know that they can be confident about that because I can imagine a bunch of scenarios where the very best hire is coming in with all kinds of experience. It might even feel like they have more experience than we do but at the same time to best bring their talents to this organization they have to learn this organization and why it has operated, how it’s operated up until now. They really do have to learn that before they can have the best influence with the skills that they do bring.

So uh, I think, um my goal for this video Barbara – let’s have them onboard the onboarding mindset onboarding always! And I’ll add to that an inclusive onboarding process because you want to be sure one of the great pieces of this is that you can set up the expectations that are agreed on. Like so that people can really pace themselves and come in that way. So very conscious, you know, inclusive onboarding is key.

And yes that’s our note for today. Uh, you know, take a look at how you’re operating in your team and your company and see how you might be able to implement some of this thinking into the best way to onboard and bring in the greatest talent that you’re attracting today.

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