This week, Mike speaks with guest George Bradt on achieving successful onboarding for executive positions. George offers a unique perspective on how to have an executive onboarded within the first 100 days on the job with a very small failure rate.
George Bradt’s Biography
George Bradt is the chairman of Prime Genesis, an executive onboarding and transition acceleration group that gives new leaders and their teams the structure, leverage, and confidence that they need to deliver better results faster. George is also an author of multiple books, plays and musicals, and columnist for Forbes.
In This Episode, You’ll Learn…
- Why proper onboarding is vital for all levels of an organization
- How onboarding is defined
- How executive onboarding is different from onboarding other members of an organization
- Why you need executive onboarding
- Why the failure rate within 18 months of key leaders who come into an organization is at 40%
- The 5 A’s of successful onboarding
- Why letting candidates do their due diligence and interview the company for a few days after they accept the job offer, but before they start their role
- Ways for new people to become acquainted with the company culture quickly
- “You define yourself in your transitions and bringing people onboard has just a lasting impact on their ability to influence and impact people in the organization and the rest of the organization.” —George Bradt
- “It’s getting people aligned around the position and ideally aligned around their onboarding platform so we know what we’re going to do and how we’re going to bring them in before we talk to anybody. That’s what we mean by align.” —George Bradt
- “You got to acquire people, it’s part of onboarding. You can’t be one thing when you’re acquiring somebody and then be something different.” —George Bradt
- “Put these new people on the big, hairy, complex projects that they are not going to understand, so they can learn. So they can meet people. They don’t have to contribute on their first project, but they can’t contribute on their second project until they’ve done the first project.” —George Bradt
Links & Resources Mentioned…
- George’s LI: https://www.linkedin.com/in/georgebradt/
- PrimeGenesis Website: https://www.primegenesis.com/
- George’s Forbes column: https://www.forbes.com/sites/georgebradt/?sh=367a690972aa
- The New Leader’s 100-Day Action Plan: https://www.amazon.com/New-Leaders-100-Day-Action-Plan/dp/1119223237/
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Mike O'Neill: Welcome back to The Get Unstuck & On Target Podcast. I'm Mike O'Neill with Bench Builders and we help business owners solve the tough people problems that're slowing their company's growth. Joining me today. It's George Bradt. George is a chairman of Prime Genesis an executive onboarding and transition acceleration group that gives some new leaders and their teams, the structure, leverage, and the confidence they need to deliver better results, faster. Their total onboarding program we'll probably refer to it as top gets done in a hundred days. What normally takes six to 12 months. In the process, their, clients are able to reduce the 18 month failure rate from 40% to less than 10%. George could speak on a lot of topics. He's written 10 books just on the topics of onboarding and leadership, but he's written over 750 columns for Forbes and has written over 19 plays an musicals. Welcome to George.
George Bradt: I'm delighted to be here, looking forward to, to our conversation.
Mike O'Neill: With the introduction I just gave. It seems pretty obvious that what we will be spending our time discussing primarily would be onboarding. And when you and I were talking prior to recording this podcast, you introduced me to something that quite frankly, given I've been in HR for a long time, is the incredible importance of onboard for all levels of the organization. And my understanding is that Prime Genesis can help there, but a particular niche that you can help is when you're bringing key leaders, bringing executives into the organization. Do I understand that correctly?
George Bradt: Oh, you do. There's it makes a difference. You, you definitely, you define yourself and your transitions and bringing people on board has just a lasting impact on their ability to influence and impact people in the organization and the rest of the organization. So when it goes well, everybody's happy. And when it goes less than well, people are less happy.
Mike O'Neill: That being said, why don't we start with just defining onboarding? How do you define onboarding?
George Bradt: I took it from a, actually let me back up. When I started the company almost 20 years ago, I couldn't use the word.
Mike O'Neill: Really?
George Bradt: Nobody, nobody knew what we were talking about.
Mike O'Neill: Ah.
George Bradt: And to the point was I went to Y label first book and I wanted to call it onboarding. And they said, nobody knows what you're talking about. And onboarding got relegated to be the third subtitle. And, and our first book, The New Leaders Hundred Day Action Plan did well enough. They came back three years later and said, now we want you to do a book for, The New Leaders Hundred Day Action Plan amazingly enough was for the new leaders. And they said, we want you to do a book for, for people helping people come into the organization. And we want you to call it onboarding. So we went from third title to actually calling it. So, so my dad, so I stole the definition from, a ship's captain, the new ships captain coming on board the ship, and they make it a formal ceremony where they welcome the ship's captain. And, and they help in those days, it was always a him, but now him or her, Get into it. And so I've defined it as the, the way you, it's the way you bring people in. It's the way you make it easier for them. It's the way you, accommodate their needs, assimilate them in and accelerate their progress.
Mike O'Neill: We're actually going to break that down into the subsets that you lay out in your books and each of the revisions to the books, I was not aware that their origination of the term onboarding is what you just described. It makes perfect sense. What I am aware of is that when a key leader assumes the role, either they are promoted from within or brought in on the outside, there's a tendency to be a little bit sheepish. Yes. We've got certain paperwork that needs to be done, but what is it about when a key leader comes in that we get skiddish and we might bypass what we're doing for everybody else who comes to the organization, but we don't think a new key leader, how important it is to get off to right footing. Are you finding that executive onboarding is even though onboarding is now more common term, is executive onboarding still raise an eyebrow? Tell me more what that is.
George Bradt: I think people understand it, but I think they understand what it is, but they don't fully understand how they need it. Because they think oh, we've spent all this money recruiting this person with the search firm or with our own internal recruiters or whoever it was. And they're really experienced. They should know what to do. And, maybe one of my favorite analogies, I did give you this one when we talked. So I won't play games with you, but, for people watching this, imagine you are driving from Ethiopia to Kenya. And you get to the border in Moyale. And I was actually telling this to a taxi driver in Minneapolis a couple of weeks ago, he goes, wait, I live outside of Moyale. Have you been to Moyale? It's like, no, it's just the story. He goes do you know this place. I don't know anything. I had to calm him back down. And I said, you go into the police station goes, oh no, I've been in that police station. You go to the police station to clear your passport and cause you're crossing the border and you come out and get back in your car and you check everything. You know, you roll up the windows, you put your seatbelt on and you check the mirrors and you turn the car on and you put it in gear and release the emergency brake, and you put your foot on the gas and you're about to move forward. And the question is, what should you, what should you do next? And most people go I don't know drive forward, figure out where I'm going or whatever. I mean, they, they don't know. And the answer is you have to switch sides of the road. Because in Ethiopia they drive on the right. And in Kenya, they drive on the left. And there's no reason that most people should know that. And that's okay. The trouble is every company drives on different sides of the road in so many different ways. And people coming in, particularly experienced people, they rely on their intuition, their instincts, and their intuition and their instincts is to do again, what made them successful before and they think they're going to operate the way they did in their previous company, because it worked and it's not going to work because of all the unwritten rules. And so that's the problem with senior executives. Companies think they should know what to do, and they do know what to do. They just don't know what to do in this organization, in this culture. And they need to take a deliberate approach to how they come in.
Mike O'Neill: You know, I shared in the intro like somewhat staggering statistic, and that was the failure rate at 18 months. Is that key leaders who come in to a role, the failure rate of 40% just kind of took me back. And I know that his number that you have derived from doing this for a long time and through y'all's efforts, you can drive that down significantly. What is happening? Why are leaders failing so often so fast?
George Bradt: Ah, so let me tell you what the number came from because we didn't derive it. It's from a Heidrick and Struggles executive search firm. Did a study of 20,000 of their searches and found that of those 20,000, 8,000 people that they placed were either fired, forced out or quit within 18 months. So that's where the number comes from. There are a lot of other people using different numbers and they do surveys and they check it. And the numbers always seems to come back somewhere between 35 and 50%. But I use the 40% because it was from that study. So that's that, wasn't your question. Your question was, why did they fail? They fail for one of three reasons, either they don't fit with the culture or they don't deliver and don't get done what they're supposed to do, or they fail to adjust to a change down the road. And let me dig into each of those, just a little bit. Because what happens is whoever you ask will blame the other guys. So if you talk to the company, they say, well, you know, they, that, that new person, that new leader, eh, they just didn't fit with us. And if you ask them, you ask the leader, they'll say, you know, that company, wasn't who they pretended to be. They misled me and, and, and that's, that's why I didn't. And, so that's fit. Same thing with delivery. Ah, they couldn't get done and we needed them to get done versus they didn't give me the resources I needed to get done what I needed to get done. And then failing to adjust to changes down the road. Everybody just says things change and, and it happens, but those are the three reasons that people fail. And then for us, we can't fix the fit issue. If there, if it's a bad hire, you know, th they're toast there's, there's nothing we can do. And that's why it's actually more like 5% of the people that we work with don't make it. But the 5% that don't fit, we can't fix. We can fix the delivery issue because we give them, as you said, we give them the structure, the leverage, and the competence to get done, what they needed to get done. And we don't have to be nice about it. If they're not getting the resources, we go to the company and go, what is your problem? You've got this person here doing this job, give them the resources. We can set up a system so that they're aware of things changing down the road and know what to look for.
Mike O'Neill: You know, it's that system I'd like us to spend some time on the name of the book, Onboarding How To Get Your New Employees Up To Speed in Half The Time you break down, you mentioned early on the fit issue, but you start off with, listing the A's. I may have used the first one being aligned. What does alignment mean to you in this context?
George Bradt: Yeah. So let me give your listeners all five, cause I just hinted at it. So the five are it's align, acquire, accommodate, assimilate, and accelerate. And I know we're going to go through them, but I just wanted to give them the whole context. So align. If I were king of the world and, and in organizations where I have been king of the world, I would never let anyone start recruiting for any position until everyone was aligned on what we wanted that person to essentially, you know, think that the job requisition, the job description, think the recruiting brief. But it's getting everybody aligned on, on what this person's going to do and what they're not going to do. It's particularly important for a new position, because if it's a new position, you're likely pulling something out of somebody else's position. And so somebody is going to give up something. And it's far better if they're aligned. Got it. We're growing so fast. You need me to focus on this cause I really don't have time to do all this stuff. You're going to pull this away and give it to the new person. That's great. Versus, oh, you don't trust me anymore. Where'd this person come from. So then the person's the problem is in trouble. So. Getting people aligned around the position and ideally aligned around their onboarding plan. So we know what we're going to do and how we're going to bring them in. Before we talked to anybody. That's what we mean by aligned.
Mike O'Neill: Before you do anything, start with that. I love the way you do that. Okay, now you've got a sense of where we're going with this. Then the next step is acquire.
George Bradt: And this and that the people listening or watching this, they get it. It's recruiting. And we can talk about recruiting and talking about interviewing. And we can talk about all that stuff, but you have people that are expert at that. For this conversation the important point that I'd like to make is you've got to acquire people. It's part of onboarding. You can't be one thing when you're acquiring. And then be something different and, you know, it sets up the fit issue, it sets up a wow they pretended to be something that they weren't. Don't do that. And, and there's a twist in this that we've developed, not developed that we've found. So I didn't talk about this with you before we started in our previous conversation. Imagine I'm a you want me to come work for? You want to offer me a job, which you would never do because you're too smart for that. But, but imagine you, you want, you want me to come work for you. And you know, you recruited a lot of people and got down to the final candidates and you decided to me, you take him out to lunch. I like lunch by the way. And you make me a job offer. And I say, yes. What do you do next? No, it's a real question. Like, what do you do? What are you gonna do after I say yes.
Mike O'Neill: I immediately go to logistics. I began thinking, all right. He said, yes. She said, yes, what do we have to do to bring him or her into the organization logistically?
George Bradt: So let me give you another idea. The other idea is, instead of saying wonderful, let's move forward. Say great. So excited, you're saying yes, but before I'm prepared to accept your yes. I want you to do a due diligence and I want to help you do a due diligence. Depending on how complex things are. It's take the weekend, take a week, but go back and dig in, go back and ask us the questions that you really wanted to ask during the interviews. But we're afraid we might dang it for it. Ask them now. Let us share the financials with you. Why don't you talk to the person that had your job that left the company. Why don't you talk now talk to your direct reports because you would never let anybody's new direct reports interview them.
Mike O'Neill: Sorry.
George Bradt: Nobody would obviously nobody would do that because it's so screwed up. Because the first, if the first meeting is an interview, the power's backwards. Because the direct report who is interviewing the potential boss has the power to hire or fire them. It's just gets the relationship off on the wrong foot. But the meeting the direct reports between, the offer and the formal acceptance is great. So I would argue there are two scenarios here. One is you you've asked me to take some time and do due diligence. So scenario one is I go away for a couple of days and I discover something that makes me say, wow, I really don't belong here. And I turn you down. That's a good thing.
Mike O'Neill: Yes, it is.
George Bradt: Because if I found it in 2, 3, 4 days, you know, I was going to find it in my first two to three weeks. And what's different is now if I turn you down, now, you can go back to your second choice candidate. And your second choice candidate never knows they were second choice. This was a two, two day delay. Whereas if you try to keep them warm for a couple of months, they're gonna know something's up. So, so scenario one is, is a win. Scenario two is I go in, I look at it and I come back and I say, yeah, I've dug into it. And I'm even more sure I want to say yes. Think about how you and I started our relationship. You started it not as an I'm sure I'm gonna offend somebody with this. Not as a transactional used car salesman, trying to close the deal, no matter what. You started it by helping me think about what was best for me. You started it by building our relationship by doing something really trustworthy by putting yourself at risk, that I might say no. And obviously you needed me to start four weeks ago, five weeks ago. So either one of those scenarios is a win. So everybody should do that. Point is this acquiring piece it's part of onboarding the way you interview people, the way you bring them in the way you greet them, the way you treat them in the interview process. You are setting your, everything communicates. You are communicating your employee employee brand in the way you do this.
Mike O'Neill: George. This is absolutely brilliant. If you put a label on this and offers extended before it's official, you challenge the candidate to go back and ask the questions that they wanted to ask. What do you call that phase of it? Do you have a name for it?
George Bradt: No it's just due diligence it's but it's it's, but it's just, it's part of the talent acquisition process, and it's just worth paying attention to.
Mike O'Neill: I absolutely love this. And so for due diligence to take place on the candidates part, they're going to have access to people they might not have had access in interview process. So you almost have to make the organization aware that the candidate may be reaching out. And I don't know what the right choice of words here, but you're looking for transparency here. Are you not?
George Bradt: Oh, absolutely. So when I've done it, myself, these new direct reports are critical. Because the new direct reports have a huge bias at this point to tell you the truth, because if they tell you something's bad and you don't take the job, they're fine. If they don't tell you about the bad thing and you show up they weren't transparent and, and they've, they've destroyed trust with their new boss. So they will tell you the truth. At one, one company that I joined, I was getting hired in may and what they told me was there was no chance of making the annual plan targets. And my first year's bonus was gonna be based on meeting targets.
Mike O'Neill: I see.
George Bradt: And so before accepted, I renegotiated the plan targets for myself and everybody that worked for me. And then we hit our bonuses. They liked me. Well, the people that work for me liked me.
Mike O'Neill: I can see why. Now we're working through these steps aligned, acquire, then we move into accommodate.
George Bradt: So this is actually where a lot of people started onboarding. So when onboarding came in, people read my book and, oh, by the way, I got, I got it. I got to tell you about the, the midnight raid on Wikipedia.
Mike O'Neill: Hmm.
George Bradt: The moment within 24 hours of signing the contract with Wiley, for the onboarding book. I did a midnight raid on the onboarding topic on Wikipedia. And replaced it with essentially the first page of our new book nine months before it was published.
Mike O'Neill: Wow.
George Bradt: And so for nine months, everybody was using our definition of onboarding and going through these align, acquire, accommodation. And so they were using the acquire accomodate stuff, and then the book came out and all hell broke loose. People were so mad at me because they'd figured out what I did. And they tried to take it down. They said, you can't do this. And, or, you know, w we're going to take your name off it, or, you know, we're not going to, and I said you can't do that because you're violating my copyrights. And so eventually it evolved away, but we got to, you know, it was like a two year headstart on everybody. And so we started redefining what accommodate means, but people were, they started with accommodate and a onboarding, a lot of onboarding. There are companies that do this and they focus on making it easier for people to fill out forms. And they put them all online. You've probably seen these. Here's our onboarding system and it focuses on that day one, which is great. It's important, but it's not the only thing that's important. And then people went into assimilate. They said, oh great. You know, we read this stuff, you know, you're a 10 people, you need to go talk, we'll come back to that later. But the accommodate thing. So I got, I got two stories, so we had a one company the back to when your earlier points about, executives versus call it managers. This company, they were really stuck on accommodating the needs of their executives. Because what happened was the people manager and below the minute they signed an offer letter, it triggered a request for a computer in their system. So if you sign an offer letter and shy of two weeks later, four weeks later, they ordered the computer. Day one they give you computer. Executives, got to pick their own computers which was great. And, the people that, so they, for executives, they waited for the executives executive assistant to order the computer. Of course, they also let the executives pick their executive assistants. So they'd show up and for them take a couple of days to interview executive assistants or show with their executive assistant. And then their executive assistant would order a computer, which would take two, three weeks. So they were sitting there with no computer for two weeks. I mean, this is just stupid. So they were stuck and we got them unstuck by changing the process. So, so they had to do that. So that that's one story. The other story that I love, and I don't know if I, did I tell you the IBM story?
Mike O'Neill: No.
George Bradt: So this guy shows up at IBM and, Purchase, New York they have this beautiful campus up on a hill. And on his first day, he wanted to go to the learning center. So he walked across the meadow down the hill, literally through the woods to have this whole separate learning center it's gorgeous and he gets to the door and the guard says, where's your ID? And he goes, well, I don't have an I.D. yet. And he goes, well, then you can't come in. He goes, it's my first day. They didn't give me an ID. If there's ever a day that somebody needs the learning center, it's their first day. And the guy goes, listen, I don't care if you're the CEO of the company, you're not getting in this building without an ID. And the guy goes, yeah, I am the CEO of the company and this was Lou Gerstner first day as CEO of IBM. And he did it to prove the point. Now there's so much wrong with this story. Like what moron? I mean, A, somebody should have given him an ID B how could somebody see him walk out the ability to go to the learning center without calling ahead and like, hi, this is the CEO secretary. We're making an exception on the policy for today the CEO is showing up. So yes. Sometimes IBM gets stuck in its it's own ways. So accommodating. And I'm sorry, I'm using a lot of words without getting to the point. Accommodating is so aligning is making sure we're all on the same page, around what this person is going to do. We want to acquire them in a way that is a part of onboarding and accommodating is just making it so they can do work on day one, ID, computer, desk, whatever. I got, I got a lot more, lots more stories than, I don't know who you're talking about time. I've got, got time for one more ridiculous, accommodating story.
Mike O'Neill: Of course.
George Bradt: So we were working with a guy who had started with a company and his prior company had exercised their non-compete. An he had to had to literally sit on the sideline for 9 months. Cause he'd been there three months and he had a one-year non-compete and he was coming back and they used us to have them come back in. And one of the things we tell people to do is don't assume the company is going to accommodate all your needs, figure out what you need and get somebody to do it for you. And I said, you know, like, you know, some people are whiteboard people and some people are flip chart people. I mean, I've got a whiteboard flip chart behind me, their whiteboards, all over this office you can't see it. I'm a whiteboard person. And the guy goes, his eyes lit up and he goes, that's it! What's it? I was here three months and I never felt comfortable. And it's because of my previous company where I was at for 22 years, I always had a whiteboard on my wall. And I never thought to ask for it and nobody thought to bring it there and I just never knew why the office didn't feel right. I said, okay, well you're starting again in four weeks. Let's get somebody to get you a whiteboard.
Mike O'Neill: Great story. Yes. Excellent. If we have worked through alignment, acquire accommodate, assimilate is the next term.
George Bradt: And assimilate is a helping people work with others. And on the one hand, it's pretty simple, but there are pieces of it and I'm probably gonna forget some of them, but there, there are things you can do. So one is, meeting people. And as I said, people figured out they should meet people. And so they give people less than say, you know, go meet these 10, 15, 20 people. But that's, that's just woefully inadequate. You should if you're helping somebody come in, if you're helping them assimilate that they need help, they don't know which side of the road to drive on. They don't know what's going on. Introduce them and introduce as an active verb. Introduce them by saying, Mike, I want you to talk to Susan. Susan is an expert in this, this, this. And you should learn this, this and this from her. Susan, I'm sending Mike to meet you Mike's going to be doing this, this and this. Could you please tell them about this, this and this? It takes 60 seconds and then I make your half hour, 20 minute conversation, whatever it is just so much better. So it's, it's the meeting of people. Second thing is meetings, these big meetings. In the old days when people were actually in the office live, and eventually some people will go back to offices live, you know, everybody used to hate meetings unless you're the new person. If you're the new person, these meetings are where you can meet people and know what's going on. So those are good. Projects, you know, put these new people on the big, hairy, complex projects that are, that they're not going to understand. So they can learn, but they can meet people. They don't have to contribute on their first project, but they can contribute on their second project. They've done their first project. So at some point you got to put them on a project. And then one of my favorites is I won't spoil the story. One of the marketing people at Coca-Cola when I was there. Seem to have a special relationship with the CEO. We never knew why, but these guys were always on the same page. They were always in the same sink. They could just, they were in sync. They could practically finish each other's sentences. Any, anything you wanted to sell to the CEO it seems like it had been pre-wired. And then we figured out they went fishing together every Sunday and spent five hours in a boat talking about stuff. The other one was, there was, there are companies that, that map networks mapping internal networks. And there was one company where there was a guy who just seemed to be connected with everybody. I mean, all the information flows through this guy, nobody could figure out why, you know, he just, he knew just where to get your information from this person. Well, this was the guy that arranged the company's weekly hunting trips. So all the hunters had to go to him to tell him what was going on and because he was arranging hunting, he knew everything about the organization. Point is there are always behind the scenes networks. There's always the kids, the parents that have the kids in the same school, or go to the same church or synagogue or temple or whatever. They're the people that always go to the same lunch, belong to the same country club, the bowling league, they shop together, they commute together. There are all these behind the scenes networks. There's no way for a new person to figure them out unless you help them. So all that's part of assimilating. And it's, it's not people take it for granted and they say, oh yeah, they'll fit in. No, they won't. And they won't do it fast enough. And the only thing they can do, you know, so. Track the Olympics at all.
Mike O'Neill: Yes.
George Bradt: So a female swimmer won a bunch of American swimmer, won a bunch of gold medals. You know who she was?
Mike O'Neill: I'm not sure I can pronounce her last name is it Ledecky? .
George Bradt: You're well done, Katie Ledecky.
Mike O'Neill: Ladecky. Thank you.
George Bradt: So she won whatever it was. Five, five, let's call it five gold medals. She and who else?
Mike O'Neill: Good point.
George Bradt: Who else?
Mike O'Neill: I don't remember.
George Bradt: Her team. So A, she doesn't get there without her parents who support her without her coach, without her trainer, without her sponsors. And hello some of those races were relays. The only thing a new executive or most new managers, or probably anybody going to an organization can do all by themselves is fail. If they're going to get anything done, it's with others, which is why the assimilating piece is so important.
Mike O'Neill: I love that example. I will use it. Thank you. You know, I in the intro pointed out that what your organization, has been able to help your clients do is compress this time, do it right, but do it faster. I shared that. What would normally take six to 12 months? The approach that you recommend as outlined in your book and with your consulting group is that 6, 12 months can be done in a hundred days. Speed accelerate that is the last one. Why is acceleration important?
George Bradt: Well, it's kind of like sharks. I mean, if, if they're not moving, they're dying. So people are either onboarding or off-boarding. And, and the acceleration piece, you know, that the world changes so fast. If people can't get up to speed and can't get moving they're, they're just going to, they're going to fall off. And helping these people accelerate their progress. They, everybody comes in with this dip. Everybody's going to come in and they're not going to know which side of the road to drive on. They're not going to have all the tools they need. They're not going to know everybody. So they're gonna have a dip and, and it hurts. And, and we coach people to pause, to accelerate. We coach people we tell people, listen from the executive side you have to converge into the organization before you can start to evolve it. And there's a pivot point and, we tend to pivot off, off an imperative. So we have new leaders come in and just converge, listen, learn, assimilate in for a period of time and then declare the moment at which you say, okay, I know enough now we're going to go forward together, pull people together. Co-create the way forward. And, the timing of that pivot is an art. And we actually had one guy where he was stuck on, on how to time his pivot, because there were complicated things going on, which I had to tell you about in a second. And we had to break it apart to get him unstuck. And so he was coming in to be head of IT and there was the pivot for running the IT department. And we timed that at a month and a month is generally the starting point, because if you come in and spend a month learning, most organizations operate on monthly cycles where they track their sales monthly or have standing meetings monthly. So if you pivot before the end of your first month, then the second time around back to those second meetings, then you're in charge. You know what you're doing. So we had him pivot, his IT department at day 25. But he was also coming in to be part of the senior leadership team. He was in the C-suite and we had a pivot that two months, cause it nicely lined up with their annual strategic planning process. And we said, great. You know, don't, don't do anything. Don't open your mouth at the executive means don't look stupid for your first two months. You just spent two months listening and learning. And that worked really well. So there, it was accelerating but slower. And I say accelerating slower, I guess not, but he was pivoting later. And then they they had a global, single platform, global platform global let's say, I think it was called a single instance, whatever it was, they were moving the entire world one IT platform and the project had failed and the project manager had left 60 days before. And this guy came in and he had to, that was a crisis. He had to fix that and his pivot there. So the pivoting, the department was a month. Senior executive team was two months. The time to pivot on that project was three hours. We gave them the morning to listen, learn, meet people. And then he called a three hour meeting in the afternoon and he said, okay, as of now, I'm the project manager on this. You all are going to spend two hours bringing you up to speed. And the last hour we're going to make decisions move forward because this is a crisis. So the acceleration happens at different times and the people coming in, the people that your listeners are going to bring in whether they're direct reports or whether they're supporting them in the HR function, they need help. They don't know, they can't figure out the timing. So, back to why people fail, why they don't deliver, they don't have the resources, give them the resources, help them figure out when to pivot, help them get people aligned around an imperative so that they jumpstart their strategic process. Help them get the people they need. So they jumpstart and organizational processes. Help them get the resources they need and the systems they need to jumpstart their operations. Because if you can help them jumpstart their strategies, the organization, their operations in the first hundred days, their odds of success are dramatically better.
Mike O'Neill: The nature of the Prime Genesis in terms of what you do, is it primarily working with executives?
George Bradt: Oh, yeah, we, we were maybe the most focused organization ever seen. We, 95% of our business is, executive onboarding. We meet with people before that we will not start with a client until they've accepted a job. We will not start with a client after day one. So we meet with people between accepting and starting, we help them create their own hundred day action plan. Which just gives them confidence. And then as appropriate, we help them implement it and we'll, we'll run new leader assimilation sessions. We will plan and facilitate an imperative workshop. We will help them jumpstart their, their milestone process. We will help them identify and then work with their teams to deliver early wins. And then we'll help them jumpstart an organizational process and figure out who's in the right role and who's not. And we get all that done. They get all that done at the end of the first hundred days. And inevitably they get to the end of the a hundred days. And they go you know George I got to tell you, this was, this was, this was really just common sense, but I liked the way you structured it. And, and this is their words. I can't believe how much we got done. How much they got done. And so they walk out with confidence, the team has confidence and they do great it's. What was topped top 10 clients have used us 180 times where we're just addictive. They, once they get it they I want more.
Mike O'Neill: You know, they are using you over and over again, but they're also in the same breath saying it's common sense. And what kind of strikes me as the, the model, the methodology the practicality of that, getting them off, getting the organization collectively off to a good start. Have you found that these executives basically carry the, that same thing into their tenure as a senior executive? Are you introducing executives to concepts that they might not have been introduced to that serve them well going forward?
George Bradt: Sometimes. So I started with, a lady two months ago, a chief operating officer of a company. And, we met for the first time before she started to create her hundred day action plan and couldn't meet it. We met in the lobby of a hotel and I had, I had a copy of the new leader centered action plan with me, and she takes one look at the book and goes that's you. Yeah. She goes, I've got to be your best customer. I've been giving this book to everybody that came to work for me for the last 10 years. I buy your book in bulk. So A we got along like a house on fire, of course, but, I really wasn't introducing a new concept. She already knew them. So that's a, that's a flip answer. So the answer is yes. So absolutely the executives we work with, but even our best corporate clients, they only use us for 4% of the onboarding. Because the HR team, they can do this. It's common sense. You know, you take the book, you do this, or you take the onboarding book, you know, you give the onboarding book to the new leaders boss. You give the new leaders a hundred day to action plan to the new leader and it works so. 96% of the time, they don't need us. They love us for the 4% that are going to take a lot of time, because if they did it, it would take 25% of their time. For 4% of the people it's like they can't do that. They have other jobs. So they, so they use us for that. And then they use our concepts and structure and frameworks with everybody else.
Mike O'Neill: George, I find myself, I probably have 20 questions already kind of in my brain, but I don't know if we're going to have time to get all 20. What I can say to you is what you've shared the concept. Our practical, but what I'm particularly taken into consideration is how vitally important onboarding is particularly with senior leaders. And that failure to do so has profound consequences that permeates the organization. It permeates the potentially the client base. It, it just has an incredible ripple effect. It must be gratifying however it be sitting in that hotel lobby and when she looks at you, you said it was flipped. I think that would be very affirming for her to her eyes light up and, and say I'm probably one of your biggest customers. Now the book that we've been talking about it's in which edition now?
George Bradt: No, the, the, the onboarding book, we only did one. So th this one, this one's it's we, we, we got it right the first time.
Mike O'Neill: So is that a Wiley?
George Bradt: Yes.
Mike O'Neill: Now I know you have published a number of books. You have published 10 books just on leadership and onboarding. It doesn't take much to get you excited about that topic. I can tell, I do have to ask since I'm I listed this in the intro. What's so unusual about you is not only are you highly recognized for your expertise here, but you have other interests. When I mentioned that you have written a plays and musicals, I don't know when you have time to do what you do. You have how many pianos in your home?
George Bradt: Five. So, and they ranged from, seven really gorgeous seven foot, beautiful concert piano. I have an upright, I have a professional keyboard. I have a less than professional keyboard that take away on weekends and I have a roll up keyboard.
Mike O'Neill: Do you really?
George Bradt: Fits in my briefcase so I can take it on a business trip. It doesn't really sound so good, but as I'm composing music, I can hear what it sounds like.
Mike O'Neill: I'm confident we have listeners who would be interested in more about that. George, you have given us just kind of a smidgen of what you could bring through your books and alike, but if folks want to learn more and reach out to you online, what's the best way for them to connect with you?
George Bradt: Well, I I'm, I'm crazy find-able, I mean, literally if you just Google George Bradt, I will come up. All my contact info is on the Prime Genesis site. So you've got to primegenesis.com it's there. If you Google Bradt and Forbes, you can pull up my articles. The trick there is because they're all online. You can Google Bradt, Forbes interviews and get my onset and interviews or executive onboarding that will come up or assimilation. So with 750 plus articles there's something on whatever. But a Prime Genesis from Genesis site. I'm crazy. Find-able.
Mike O'Neill: Well, we'll obviously include that website, your LinkedIn profile, and other ways to contact. Now for those who are listening, Bradt is spelled B R A D T. So, if you're going to be Googling, they'll probably still find you anyhow, as prolific as you actually are. As anticipated George, I'm sitting here writing and absorbing as fast as you were speaking. And, this has been a real great learning experience. Thank you for sharing your expertise with us today.
George Bradt: Absolutely. My pleasure.
Mike O'Neill: I also want to thank our listeners for joining us today. Every Thursday, we upload the latest episode to all the major platforms. So if you haven't already, please subscribe. Got a question for you the listener. Are people problems keeping you up at night. Let's talk, head to bench-builders.com to schedule a quick call. We'll explore ways to help you solve those people problems. So you can, again, focus on growing your business. So I want to thank you for joining us and I hope you've picked up some tips from George that'll help you Get Unstuck & On Target. Until next time.