How many times I’ve seen in my clients the high expectations about new people. Not just the new hires but the ones that come from a fresh acquisition. Particularly when self-belief is at low levels, the hope is that new people will bring new ideas, new lenses, perhaps new urgencies, or a different way to think and act. And that may be the case, indeed.
Or maybe not. New people often bring with them their own old ideas, so you inherit both the bodies and the minds. Surely the more ‘alien’ the acquisition is, for example a different business model, a different size of organization, a different concentration of new-to-you types of professionals, the greater the chance for you to have that fresh injection. But don’t bank on that and take it as face value.
Some ‘new people’ spend an often interminable time referring to their previous employer. The sentences tend to start always in the same way: ‘When I was in X, we did such and such’. And after a few weeks of this, you start thinking if a friendly invitation to go back to X, where surely he or she is greatly missed, would be just appropriate.
Because of that inheritance, good or bad, new people, who need perhaps to establish some credibility and some standing, tend to produce higher levels of prediction than ‘older’ people. ‘We did that in X, but we called it Y, and did not work’. That’s it, sentence given, in a sentence.
Or they have an answer in the form of a toolkit ‘used in X’. Years ago I was offered by some ‘new people’ coming to my client, the entire set of McKinsey slides ‘on the topic’, introduced to us with with the ‘when I was in X’. Unfortunately, they (the people) did not make it to our joint consultants-client project team, so we missed those slides. The project was a great success.
Our own ‘new’ or ‘old’ has less to do with employers and experience than our ability to Spring-clean our minds from time to time. Dee Hoc, founder of Visa, the card company that does not issue cards, said it better than many others: ‘The problem is never how to get new, innovative thoughts into your mind, but how to get old ones out. Every mind is a building filled with archaic furniture. Clean out a corner of your mind and creativity will instantly fill it’.
Which applies to the old employee, the new one, the hired, the acquired and the founders.
You don’t want to prevent people from bringing in ‘their experiences’ . What you want is to put them in the pot where critical thinking is going to have a go.
I love new people coming in and asking ‘what’s for breakfast?’ instead of saying ‘Breakfast? this is the kind of breakfast I had when I was in X’.