Leadership, Onboarding & Puppies

by Jonathan Eisler

My wife and I recently brought home a puppy so Gherkin, our 2-year-old dog, could once again have a sister (we lost our beloved Patches in May). This weekend, we were marveling at how well the new puppy, lovingly named Whiskey Rose, has acclimated to our family. She is already walking on a leash and has learned a number of commands even though she’s not even 3 months old. As my wife and I discussed her development in more detail, we were struck by how much faster she seems to be learning compared to Gherkin when we first brought him home 2 years ago. It didn’t make sense— until I thought about it from an onboarding and leadership perspective.

When we brought Gherkin home, he was met by 15-year-old Patches whose eyesight was failing and whose hearing only allowed her to be cognizant of loud percussive noises. Contrast this to the boisterous greeting Whiskey Rose received— Gherkin couldn’t wait to show her all of his toys and all of his favorite places around the house and yard!

After the initial welcome, each puppy had a very different experience. Patches went about the daily routine she’d grown accustomed to after 15 years and saw Gherkin as a bit of a nuisance given his continued pestering for interaction. Compare this with Whiskey Rose’s experience of being continually tended to by a big brother who was excited to have a friend to play with.

From an onboarding perspective, these two scenarios show how different leadership styles can directly impact the new hire’s experience. And, given the time and resources associated with bringing new team members up to speed and assimilating them into a new culture, I believe the business case for investing the additional time and energy up front is reaffirmed.

To be clear, the difference in age has nothing to do with the above. However, in the case of Patches, the ailments associated with her age did result in behaviors that are much more aligned with an authoritative, hands-off approach to leadership and Gherkin’s youth and associated energy lends itself to an empathetic, mindful and attentive leader.

Keep these scenarios in mind when you welcome your next hire and ask yourself, “What can I do to make the onboarding process as efficient and effective as possible for our new team member?”

If you’d like some help in answering this question, give us a call!

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  • E. TaLeshea Holland

    This was an awesome read Jonathan! I can’t wait to share it with my team in Atlanta Public Schools. You can never hear it too much. Great perspective from the most unlikely, (but likely in our world) little leaders!