Rhythm Blog

Chris Cosper

Chris Cosper
Chris is Head of Consulting. She is an experienced business professional and expert meeting facilitator who has years of experience helping clients establish a strong Think Plan Do Rhythm to grow their business with purpose.

Recent Posts

Mastering the Rockefeller Habits: What you Must do to Increase the Value of your Growing Firm

Posted by Chris Cosper on Thu, Jul 30, 2020 @ 10:10 AM

By now, most of us are familiar with Verne Harnish’s book, Mastering the Rockefeller Habits: What You Must Do To Increase the Value of Your Growing Firm.  And, synonymous with the book is the Rockefeller Habits One Page Strategic Plan.  There are so many great concepts and solid theory captured in this material, all boiled down to simple, actionable steps that each of us can apply in our businesses.  But it’s all so good, you may be wondering where in the world to start Mastering the Rockefeller Habits.  

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Topics: Strategies for Growth

Topgrading: 10 Expert Tips for Topgrading Interview Questions

Posted by Chris Cosper on Thu, Jul 30, 2020 @ 09:00 AM

Topgrading is a methodology of recruiting, interviewing, selecting and retaining top talent developed by Brad Smart and Geoff Smart designed to increase your likelihood of hiring and retaining A players. We’ve been recommending this method to Rhythm clients for many years.  We even use it ourselves, so we know firsthand the power of Topgrading. You can find a lot of great (and free) resources on their website.  When used in conjunction with Job Scorecards, an enhanced version of job descriptions, you can better attract and retain the A-Players you need to hit your growth goals.

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Topics: Accountable Leaders & Teams

Huddles: The Benefits of a Daily Huddle Meeting (Even Virtual)

Posted by Chris Cosper on Wed, Jul 29, 2020 @ 09:00 AM

So, how’s your Daily Huddle meeting going? Over time, it’s easy for this habit to begin feeling a little stale, and you might even start wondering if anyone would miss it if you killed it. They would! And they probably don’t even realize it (so don’t bother polling the team to ask). Instead, be the leader and huddle on!  Sometimes the benefits of Daily Huddles are so subtle they go uncelebrated, but the truth is, the habit of huddling daily with your team might be the most valuable 10 minutes of your day. The next time you feel like it’s an inconvenient interruption or someone tells you they’re too busy to huddle, keep these benefits of the morning huddle in mind.

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Topics: Effective Meetings

Annual Planning: It's a Process, Not an Event

Posted by Chris Cosper on Wed, Jul 22, 2020 @ 11:03 AM

A CEO has many responsibilities, and among the top is ensuring the company has a sound plan and budget going into each new year. Seasoned CEOs have likely developed a trusted method for getting this done. Sometimes it’s as simple as estimating organic growth by applying a reasonable percentage to this year’s numbers and maybe adding additional revenue for a new product or channel. There might be a review of the current year’s spending by department to estimate the new year’s needs—adding a little here and cutting a little there—and, of course, there will be an Annual Planning Meeting that brings the management team together to have strategic discussions, gain alignment and hash out the details. As with anything, it’s easy to fall into the trap of doing things the same way year after year, especially if it’s been working for you.

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Topics: Annual & Quarterly Planning

Welcome to the Team!  15 Tips for Effective Onboarding (Checklist)

Posted by Chris Cosper on Sun, May 31, 2020 @ 09:00 AM

Do you spend more money on going away parties when someone leaves the company than you do welcome parties when someone joins?  This was a question posed by Jack Daly a few years ago at one of the Fortune Growth Summits.  Our team really connected with the idea of treating a new employee’s first day like a celebration, and over the past few years we have created an internal process called “Great First Day" as a critical part of their employee onboarding process.  How do you make employees feel welcome from their very first day that they join our team?

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Topics: Strategies for Growth, Accountable Leaders & Teams

The Daily Huddle Meeting: A Key Component in Mastering the Rockefeller Habits [Video]

Posted by Chris Cosper on Sat, Feb 29, 2020 @ 06:27 PM

“Are you kidding me? Have a meeting every day! We already have way too many meetings. The last thing my team wants to do is add another morning huddle meeting..... every day.

Yep, that was me about 12 years ago when my coach, Dan Weston, suggested we implement the daily huddle meeting in my company. I was reluctant, but he made me promise to give it a try. My team was reluctant at first too, but in time, this became one of the most important rhythms in the company. And, not only did the executive team huddle, but the design team huddled, customer service and sales huddled, the engineers huddled and the front line supervisors huddled daily.

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Topics: Strategies for Growth, Effective Meetings

The Art of the Daily Huddle: Cascade Meeting Huddles

Posted by Chris Cosper on Fri, Jan 31, 2020 @ 09:00 AM

So, how’s your huddle? I’ve written about huddles before and honestly believe they can be a breakthrough component in building high-performance teams. A ten minute daily meeting with your team can dramatically increase the speed of your execution, improve communication, reduce time spent in all your other meetings, align people and resources, and build relationships.

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Topics: Annual & Quarterly Planning, Effective Meetings

Encouraging Accountability in Your Organization

Posted by Chris Cosper on Mon, Jan 20, 2020 @ 07:04 AM

“We need more accountability around here.”  “We need to hold people accountable.”  This is one of the most consistent themes we hear from clients when asked what they would like to achieve or improve in their business.  It’s a worthy goal, but the path to success is not simple.  You can’t mandate accountability.  Accountability is a choice. Here’s a formal definition of Accountability: the willingness of an individual to account for their actions, accept responsibility for them and disclose the results in a transparent manner.  

We often think that by applying negative consequences, or calling people out, we’ll be able to enforce accountability.  Who wants to be the accountability police?   Our time as leaders is much better spent figuring out what we can do to create an environment that encourages accountable behavior, a culture where people are willing to account, accept, disclose, and even ask for help when needed.  Before you jump straight to consequences, make sure you’ve done your part to create an environment where people will choose to be accountable.

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Topics: Annual & Quarterly Planning, Accountable Leaders & Teams

How to Roll Out Job Scorecards (Infographic)

Posted by Chris Cosper on Mon, Jan 13, 2020 @ 09:00 AM

Whether you are an executive team member, a department leader, or a member of the team, the role you play in the company is unique and important. You are there for a reason and you want to be successful. In order to be successful, you have to understand your purpose, what you are responsible for, how success will be measured, the skills you might need to develop, and the values you must uphold. Role clarity is key to your success, and Job Scorecards are a great way to achieve role clarity.

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Topics: Accountable Leaders & Teams

Mid Market Companies: The Top Business Challenges Survey

Posted by Chris Cosper on Fri, Nov 15, 2019 @ 11:08 AM

At our annual Rhythm Systems Breakthrough Conference in Charlotte, we had the opportunity to survey our audience of over 150 mid-market executives and ask the question, “What are the top 8 business challenges for mid-market companies?” The term “mid-market” refers to the size of a company based on its annual revenue, usually between $10 - $500 million. It may seem like a big swing to go from $10 million to $500 million, but not so big when you consider that only 3% of all companies ever make it past the $10 million mark.

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Topics: Strategies for Growth, Strategy Execution, Accountable Leaders & Teams, Mergers & Acquisitions

How to Garner Support for Your Annual Plan

Posted by Chris Cosper on Thu, Nov 14, 2019 @ 11:03 AM

Recently, I’ve noticed that many of our clients are involving more and more people in the planning process. As they head into Annual Planning, in addition to the 8-10 people on the senior executive leadership team, many of our clients are eliciting ideas and contributions from the next level of leaders as well. Involving these leaders can help ensure the voice of the customer and those employees closest to the customer are heard. However, having so many people in the room can be a challenge for the facilitator.

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Topics: Annual & Quarterly Planning

Change Management Tips for Leaders: 3 Tips for Successful Change

Posted by Chris Cosper on Fri, Sep 6, 2019 @ 11:00 AM

“Innovation is the key to success.”

“If you’re not growing, you’re dying.”

“You must create a culture of continuous improvement.”

Here are three pieces of great business advice I’m sure you’ve heard a hundred times. They all make perfect sense, but like most good advice, they’re easier said than done. The reason they aren’t easy is because they all involve change, and change is hard. Let’s face it; coming up with a new idea isn’t that hard. Creating a plan to implement your new idea isn’t even hard. It’s when you start involving all the people affected by your idea that things get messy.

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Topics: Strategy Execution, Accountable Leaders & Teams

Smooth Sailing in Rough Waters: Use KPIs to Throw a Lifeline

Posted by Chris Cosper on Tue, Jul 23, 2019 @ 09:00 AM

Isn’t it funny how quickly our workload can change? One day we’re doing fine, managing our daily tasks, making progress on our priorities and feeling connected to our teammates. Then the next thing you know, a project goes off track, a client has a problem, or a teammate is out sick, and all of the sudden we’re behind, feeling overwhelmed and frustrated. Maybe it was just a bad day and tomorrow we’ll be back on track, or maybe it’s the first in a series of days that has the potential to wear us down, increasing our chances of making mistakes and significantly effecting our outlook and energy.

It happens to everyone at some point. In fact, it’s probably happening to someone on your team right now. The question is not whether it will happen. The question is who is it happening to and how can you help. Someone needs a lifeline - a rope typically thrown to rescue someone experiencing difficulties in the water - and someone on your team probably has one. You just need a way to match these two up.  

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Topics: KPIs & Dashboards, Accountable Leaders & Teams

Lean Quarterly Planning: How Complex Companies Plan & Drive Out Waste

Posted by Chris Cosper on Tue, Mar 6, 2018 @ 11:00 AM

The primary goal of any lean initiative is to drive out waste. Have you considered whether or not you have waste in your quarterly planning process? Many companies, especially complex organizations with multiple business units, locations, product lines, or divisions, struggle to find a way to get their teams focused and aligned around the right set of priorities every quarter. The synergy and momentum you’ll gain when you figure this out will increase productivity, improve employee morale, and help you achieve your goals faster.

The wrong planning process, one that’s not perfectly designed to match your company’s unique structure and needs, can cause waste in multiple ways. Here are a few to consider:

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Topics: Annual & Quarterly Planning

The Secret to Rhythm Systems Success

Posted by Chris Cosper on Mon, Dec 18, 2017 @ 11:31 AM

Over the past 10 years, we have had the unique opportunity to work with hundreds of companies around the world. Our observations and research, via coaching sessions, planning sessions, and the review of over 125,000 company, departmental, and individual priorities has provided unique insights into what specific habits, patterns, and actions helped these companies execute better and grow faster.

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Are You Getting Good ROI on Your Planning Sessions?

Posted by Chris Cosper on Thu, Oct 12, 2017 @ 11:00 AM

Your planning sessions are important and expensive. Whether they’re Quarterly Planning Sessions, Annual Planning Sessions, or Strategic Planning Sessions, you've invested the valuable time and energy of your most expensive employees – time away from the office,  travel  and meals, a rented meeting room, a professional facilitator, and who knows what else. That number can really add up, so it’s easy to see why this is a line item that sometimes gets cut when trimming the budget. But before you go there, like any other investment decision, you should consider the ROI of that planning session. The basic ROI formula is (Gain–Cost)/Gain. In order to calculate this, you have to really understand what the cost is and what’s at stake.

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Topics: Annual & Quarterly Planning, Strategy Execution, Effective Meetings

It’s Time For Your Company Health Check

Posted by Chris Cosper on Tue, Dec 27, 2016 @ 09:00 AM

Is your company consistently getting the results you desire? By results, I mean both top line revenue results and bottom line profit results. It’s quite possible that you may be growing and doing well but still wonder if you’re reaching your full potential. If not, what’s holding you back? Chances are high that the answer to this question lies in one of four critical areas of your business.

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Topics: Strategy Execution

OOPS!  Why Traditional Performance Appraisals Might Be A Big Mistake

Posted by Chris Cosper on Thu, Dec 1, 2016 @ 12:00 PM

Aubrey Daniels is a clinical psychologist who has spent more than thirty years dedicated to helping people and organizations apply the scientifically proven laws of human behavior to improving workplace performance. I first heard him speak at a conference several years ago and remember his ideas as being the most insightful and practical of all the speakers.

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Topics: Accountable Leaders & Teams

3 Rhythms to Grow Your Business

Posted by Chris Cosper on Wed, Aug 3, 2016 @ 09:00 AM

Growing a successful business is complicated, messy, and hard. Just when you think you’ve got everything under control, your customers are happy, your margins are okay, and your people seem to know what they’re doing, you wake up one morning and find that everything that seemed to be working so well yesterday doesn’t make any sense today. What on earth happened? Things were going so well! You hit a new ceiling of complexity, that’s what happened. We know these ceilings of complexity are out there, in theory, but in reality, they seem to always come as a surprise. You opened one more office, launched one more product, tried one new supplier, encountered one new competitor, had to deal with one more industry rule… and everything changed.

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Topics: Strategy Execution

Annual Planning for Departmental Groups

Posted by Chris Cosper on Tue, Mar 1, 2016 @ 09:00 AM

Annual Planning is a key component in any successful company's Plan Rhythm. It's the linchpin that connects strategy to execution. It's the guideline you will use for the next 365 days to determine what to say yes to and what to say no to. Every company needs alignment around the Main Thing they will be focused on this year and the top 3-5 Key Initiatives they are committed to accomplishing. This alignment, focus, and prioritization should always happen at the highest level in the company first so that all other departments and groups can rally around the same inspiring future you are creating.  

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Topics: Annual & Quarterly Planning

Does Your Comp Plan Reinforce a Culture of Earning or Entitlement?

Posted by Chris Cosper on Tue, Feb 2, 2016 @ 09:00 AM

More and more, we are seeing companies move away from the old-school habit of Annual Performance  Reviews and focus on creating an environment where every team member is clear about what success looks like and has the tools and information to know how they are doing every day. This blog outlines some of the biggest reasons why this is important and how you can begin to do this in your company. 

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Topics: Accountable Leaders & Teams

“I Can Support That” - The Difference Between Agreement and Support

Posted by Chris Cosper on Mon, Sep 21, 2015 @ 09:00 AM

The best teams are diverse in thinking and will always bring a variety of ideas and solutions. They are able to put all of these ideas on the table, move them around, combine pieces from different ideas, discuss, debate and ultimately select a course of action that the entire team can get behind.  

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Topics: Accountable Leaders & Teams

Team Development: Leadership Through the 4 Stages of Team Development

Posted by Chris Cosper on Wed, Jul 29, 2015 @ 09:00 AM

Do you know where your team falls in the natural progression of team development? In 1965, Bruce Tuckman researched group development and identified four distinct stages that all teams must move through in order to become successful. These stages are Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing. Over the years, I have worked with many teams and have found theses stages to be very predictable. You might think that putting a group of high-performing A Players together on a team will automatically create a high-performing team, but even your dream team will find their way into and, hopefully, out of each these stages. 

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Topics: Accountable Leaders & Teams

Daily Huddle With Myself

Posted by Chris Cosper on Wed, May 20, 2015 @ 09:00 AM

I’m a big fan of the Daily Huddle. I’ve been huddling in different companies and with different teams since 2001, and I’ve never once questioned whether it was the right thing to do. Well, okay, there was one time I questioned it, but that was before I tried it. Read here to see how I got started.

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Topics: Strategy Execution, Effective Meetings

5 Rules of Improv to Improve Your Business

Posted by Chris Cosper on Fri, Jan 16, 2015 @ 09:00 AM

In honor of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler’s awesome job hosting the Golden Globe Awards earlier this week, I’m inspired to share a few rules of improv they have taught us in their books and speeches.  You’ll be surprised how helpful these can be in real life and business, too.

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Topics: Accountable Leaders & Teams

The Greatest Superhero Coach of All Time - It Takes a Village

Posted by Chris Cosper on Thu, Nov 13, 2014 @ 09:00 AM

I’ve been a business growth coach for almost a decade, and before that, I was a CEO who had a coach. At Rhythm Systems, I’m the head of coaching, so I also have the privilege of working alongside some of the most excellent coaches I’ve ever met. I understand coaching. I get the difference between a consultant and a coach. I appreciate the power of listening, questioning, encouraging and challenging. I believe that a good coach can have a tremendously positive impact on the performance of an individual, a team and an entire organization.

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Topics: Strategy Execution, Accountable Leaders & Teams

Your Checklist for Rhythm Success

Posted by Chris Cosper on Mon, Jul 21, 2014 @ 09:00 AM

Over the past 8 years, we have had the unique opportunity to work with hundreds of companies around the world. Our observations and research, via coaching sessions, planning sessions, and the review of over 100,000 company, departmental, and individual priorities has provided unique insights into what specific habits, patterns and actions helped these companies execute better and grow faster.

We are often asked how our most successful clients are using Rhythm. Remember, Rhythm is more than just the software. It consists of methodology, habits, disciplines, education and coaching. The software is simply the vehicle you use to implement and manage these good business practices in your company. If you are new to Rhythm or ready to challenge your team and engage at a whole new level, take a look at this list and see how many of these best practices you can check off.

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Topics: Strategy Execution

Core Purpose - It’s All About You, Not Your Customers (Sort of)

Posted by Chris Cosper on Fri, May 23, 2014 @ 10:15 AM

Jim Collins refers to your Core Purpose as your company’s reason for being.  It answers the big question WHY?  “Why do we exist as a business?” “What is our deeper purpose and meaning?” “Why are we passionate about the work we do?”  

In his famous HBR article “Building your Company’s Vision,” Jim Collins describes a good Core Purpose as one that could last for 100 years and is not descriptive of specific financial goals, business strategies, market segments or product lines. He advises that while “you might achieve a goal or complete a strategy, you cannot fulfill a purpose; it is like a guiding star on the horizon – forever pursued but never reached.”  

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Topics: Strategies for Growth

Use a “Think Rhythm” to Find Your X-Factor

Posted by Chris Cosper on Tue, May 6, 2014 @ 01:30 PM

An X-Factor is your company’s unique solution to an industry bottleneck that has the potential to give you a 10X advantage over your competition.  Although difficult to discover (if it were easy, someone would have already discovered it) it is certainly worth investing the energy and effort to pursue.  The first step in discovering your X-Factor is to determine what the real bottlenecks are in your industry.  Ask questions like:  “What is the part of my business that I hate the most?” “What’s the largest cost component in my industry?”  “What drives my customers crazy?”  Go to industry trade shows and check out breakout session workshop topics.  These are usually industry-wide problems that all of your competitors are dealing with too.  Finding a creative solution to one of these bottlenecks could be a goldmine for you and could eventually revolutionize your industry.  Once you find an X-Factor, you must keep it a closely guarded secret.  Your competitors will eventually figure it out, but the head start you’ll have will give you a huge advantage, and it will give you time to start developing your next X-Factor.

 

 

One classic example of an X-Factor

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Quarterly Planning for Companies With 50+ Employees

Posted by Chris Cosper on Mon, Aug 26, 2013 @ 06:43 AM
Quarterly Planning time is upon us again.  In our company, Rhythm Systems, that’s a big deal.  Each one of our consultants will be meeting with the CEOs  of their client companies over the next few weeks to prepare them to lead their executive teams in the creation of a company roadmap for the next 90 days.  For companies with multiple layers in the organization (executive team, functional groups, supervisors, front line employees, etc.), that process will require a few extra steps.  Quarterly planning may start at the top with the executive team, but for companies with a little extra complexity and a few more people, it certainly doesn’t stop there.  Our coaches will also be working with the leaders of each functional department to help prepare them to lead their teams in quarterly planning.
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Topics: Annual & Quarterly Planning, Strategy Execution

New Book: Flip the Pyramid

Posted by Chris Cosper on Fri, Apr 12, 2013 @ 07:06 AM

Our longtime client and friend, Greg Slamowitz, Cofounder and Co-CEO of Ambrose Employer Group has just published a new book called Flip the Pyramid.  Ambrose is a Professional Employer Organization that provides outsourced human resource services, and has been named for the second year in a row as one of the 50 Best Companies to Work For in New York State.  Quite an honor.  I'm really looking forward to reading Greg's thoughts on what it takes to "create a workforce that is engaged, aligned, empowered and on fire".

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Making the Most of Your Metrics

Posted by Chris Cosper on Mon, Feb 11, 2013 @ 04:30 PM

The start of a new year is a great time to clean up your KPI dashboards.  It’s so easy to think of one more metric we want to track, always looking for that one piece of information that will really make a difference in our business.  But, what usually happens is we add and add and add to the point that we have so many numbers floating around that none of them are treated with any importance.  Here are a few tips to make sure you’re getting the most from the metrics you're tracking.

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Topics: Strategies for Growth, KPIs & Dashboards

Set Great Expectations for Your Annual Planning

Posted by Chris Cosper on Wed, Dec 5, 2012 @ 12:31 PM

Bringing your team together for a few days of Annual Planning requires a big investment of time, energy and money.  You may have flown people in, pulled some away from completing their Q4 priorities, caused others to double up to cover for those out of the office.  This may be your busiest time of the year, but you know that taking time out for Annual Planning is the right thing to do.  Here are a few tips to make sure you get full value out of your investment. Annual_Planning_Graphic

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Topics: Annual & Quarterly Planning

Turn Your Onboarding Process Into a Competitive Advantage

Posted by Chris Cosper on Tue, Nov 13, 2012 @ 10:53 AM

So, you take Jim Collins’ First Who, Then What principle seriously.  You invest a tremendous amount of time sourcing and selecting the right candidates using Topgrading methods.  Now that you’ve handed out golden tickets to get the right people on the bus, how seriously are you taking their initiation into your organization? You’ve sold them on your company’s culture and invited them to join the family, but are you intentional about the very first impressions you make on them as they begin this new journey with you? It’s quite possible to have an overwhelmingly positive, thriving, high-performing culture that isn’t instinctively welcoming to newcomers. And as the competition for talent increases, and the investment you’re making in the recruiting and selection process grows, it’s probably worth it to make sure you give these A-players every opportunity to get off on the right foot.

Onboarding actually starts the day someone accepts your offer, so it makes sense to consider what you can do to make them feel good about their decision, even before they start. And you will definitely want to give some thought to what their first day should be like. Put yourself in their shoes.

  • What basic tools will they be using? 
  • What information will they need?
  • Who do they need to meet?
  • Have their business cards ready for them.
  • Have a special lunch planned for the first day.
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Topics: Annual & Quarterly Planning, Accountable Leaders & Teams

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