For our latest Head2Head, Jen Gaster spoke with Laurent Bouvier, Founder and Director of Metisblue, to discuss the 90-Day Accelerator Programme, a bespoke and independent one-on-one coaching plan designed to support new hires to deliver results faster in the first three months of their new role.
Today, I am delighted to welcome Laurent Bouvier to join me for our latest Head2Head.
Laurent, you lead Metisblue, and that massively operates within the people space.
Could you tell us more about what Metisblue does?
Thank you for having me on, I know how busy you and the rest of the team are, so I appreciate the time here.
Metisblue’s got one purpose, it’s about helping leaders and teams understand who they are and be better in the world of work.
We do that in several different ways, but it’s all about helping people understand how they show up, making it human.
I think one of the big things that businesses are all starting to wake up to is there are always big conversations in the boardroom about what tech they will buy.
You can imagine all the big conversations, especially with the FDA, about what we need, but we recognise, we appreciate the number one point of differentiation for most organisations is their people.
If you can allow people to come together, really understand what they’re trying to do, we can help them be better and do better and that is when the magic comes alive.
So that’s what Metisblue does, and I think particularly pertinent for our conversation today, which is about the 90-Day Accelerator.
To set the scene for our audience here we are in partnership, which is a wonderful place to be.
There’s this huge synergy between the value set that our businesses have and the way that we like to work.
I think at the heart of that, and one of our core values is, doing the right thing and rewarding the relationships.
So this partnership’s come about because we are constantly striving to innovate the customer experience and our customers are people, whether they are a candidate or a client.
We continue to strive, to give them a value add experience and to take the recruitment experience, particularly beyond the front door of the office where you play place someone.
So, my industry would typically focus on the sourcing, the assessment, the placement and appointment, and then we step away at the front door, but hopefully working in partnership with you, Laurent, takes us through the front door and enables people to have a value add proposition that is truly able to reward that relationship investment that the company has with the individual, but also that we have with them and between us.
Perhaps you can go into a little bit about what the 90-Day AcceleratorPlan is?
How does it work and why might people want to really get on board with that and understand that in the future?
Maybe I should start with the name. So the 90-Day Accelerator does what it says.
We are there to support the new hire in those critical first 90 days.
We’ll engage obviously a little bit beforehand to make sure we’ve done a bit of a chemistry check and we’re all aligned and the alignment is all about working with the organisation that that candidate who’s been selected is there.
We are working with them, we’re enriching what they currently do.
This isn’t an in lieu of, this is enrichment and then really providing an independent coach to almost work with both parties.
We are working with the new hire at the 30, 60, and 90-day mark and then critically through that process, we’ll loop back to the organisation, the Hiring Manager, the HR Director, whoever it is, and work with them to understand how they’re experiencing that new hire because they’ve been generally hired for their competency, you know, they’re an amazingly talented person.
I was just going to say, these are senior people, they’re very credible and capable.
Why might they want or need a coach?
Absolutely, and that’s a question that we hear a lot and, and I think it’s, where are people’s attention?
We know within a business it is about the execution, it’s not the quality of the plan necessarily.
It’s about how well you execute that plan.
So it almost feels missed that you spent a great amount of time on the process to get a new hire and think about what that’s done.
This person’s got 25 years of experience, but leadership can be a lonely place. The more senior you are, the more eyes are looking up the structure, if you were and thinking, right, okay, this new person, this new lady is starting, what’s she going to bring?
And therefore there’s a huge amount of pressure, irrelevant of the experience on that first impression in those first 90 days.
The programme’s been running for the best part of seven years now, so we’ve got a fair bit of experience in it.
It is that partnering with that exec to help them have a safe space, to unpack their plan, really have a level of a curious friend, if you want, who can help them shade their thinking through great questioning to think, “Now I’ve got a complete view”.
I haven’t just gone with my gut feeling. I haven’t just gone with my head. I really tried to look at the broader piece and that then allows them the ability to present back into the organisation.
What level is relevant for them?
They plan their vision, how do they engage with their people and make that first experience for both parties? Because the integration is both ways around.
If the foundations are strong, then everything else will work well behind it.
And, and it is that independent piece, isn’t it?
Because I think many businesses I work with will have a coach in the business and be able to do that, but actually having somebody that really can sit outside of all of the dynamics that they’re then facing is a USP in that space.
Another question we often get asked, and I think you framed it really well there Jen is…
“But we provide them with somebody, we buddy them up.”
But that buddy is usually the line manager or member of the team or the HR person, whoever it is.
To be frank with you, you’ve just started a new job, there are a couple of wrinkles about what you got told in the interview process, the reality, etc etc.
It’s unlikely that in those early days, you’re going to sit down with your buddy and say, I’m not really sure about this.
This is a conversation you want to go through in private and you want to do it in the environment of a professional who can support you through that rather than just using your broader connections.
That’s why we use the phrase psychological safety, isn’t it?
I think that’s the phrase that we hear in that space that people have the permission to have the conversation.
Yes, absolutely and knowing that you can express your inner thoughts, knowing that you are not judged because internally, despite all of our best training, we would all bring a certain bias, a certain lens to what we’re hearing.
That’s going to be difficult so that is going to limit what you will say.
“I don’t want to quite say that because that might resonate really badly.”
The independent person can hear all that, help them reframe it, unpack it, identify solutions and ways forward and move it forward and, like I said, for seven years, we’ve been doing that and it’s been valuable for all the parties.
And you mentioned it in reference to executives we recruit, professionals that are leaders, but maybe not execs, they might be first-line leaders, they might be senior leaders and then they might be exec.
I know that you cover all of that, but do you want to bring that to light a bit more?
We offer three core levels and are always happy to co-create with somebody to just say, okay let’s just edit this a little bit.
So we offer first time management, more senior management, uh, and then all the way through to director or, or the, on the main exec board.
Starting at the other end, we can all remember the first time we were told, “Right, you’ve gone from an excellent individual contributor, you’re going to manage the team now.”
That’s a very different set of skills.
Just because you were good at that, doesn’t mean that you will be good at the other thing and often if you are an external hire, somebody in the team is most likely to have applied for the role, so what’s the dynamic there, how do I captivate the audience and work strongly with them.
We provide that independent piece and will probably mentor a little bit down the space with here are the options that you have.
It just puts the attention on strong execution with planning for success rather than we’ve got a great candidate, let’s hope they do a great job. So we’re providing a structured framework that allows them to shine.
Brilliant, and how does it work?
For the audience, let’s just bring that to life so people get a pragmatic understanding of the programme.
So I talked a little about human nature, so we want good, strong, clear communication. We want clarity of purpose. We want everybody to know where all the bits are.
We’ll engage with the recruiting company in advance to make sure we get an understanding of the culture.
What are the things that they’re looking for from the new hire that’s now working their notice and about to join? We’ll also connect with that new hire, say, hi, and let them know we’re going to be here with them on that journey.
Our sole purpose is to make you the best you can be in those first 90 days.
Then, as I said before, in the first 30 days, we’ll engage again.
Why 30? Well, there’s some content being created. Everybody’s got a bit of a sense of what’s going on and what’s happening.
We’ve got some real meat to talk about and to unpack.
Then we’ll meet again in 60 days and we’ll also swing back internally to align with the organisation.
What are they seeing on their radar?
We can really add value to that whole process.
At 90 days we’ll work with the candidate again and then work with the line management to say, okay, we’re about to exit.
We thought actually what’s their nine-month plan on the back of that. So they’ve got some real pillars that they’re aspiring towards that broader vision, especially if they’re a senior leader.
We make sure that we hand back with care.
We leave the candidate in a really strong place and at that stage, our work is done.
And often to be honest with you, Jen, that’s when people then say to us, that’s been powerful.
Can we carry on? Can we do other things? Absolutely.
As you know, I’m a coach myself and the value of coaching, even just having that style of conversation, is undoubtedly to be put in front and centre of a business conversation and used all the way.
I’m not surprised that you are asked to be retained and to be continued.
To be in partnership with you, Laurent is such an exciting proposition for us and I wanted to shine a spotlight on that ability to enable the clients that we work with to do something different.
The war and talent right now is the biggest it’s ever been and trying to entice people out of one business to join another is nigh on impossible.
The last two years have meant people have developed really strong loyal threads to where they are, so to move will take something quite special.
And if a business is prepared to invest in the individual with a scheme like this, with a programme that wraps its arm around that individual with an independent coaching consultant, that for me becomes a game-changer and it means that business is really serious about the human resource it has to play with.
When I was listening to you there, what sparked in my mind was that people talk sometimes a really good game and what you want to see is the evidence of that.
When organisations talk about their employee focus, their employee value propositions, you know, there are lots of great words that are often used, but what’s tangible and how can that external candidate experience or see that.
I think with what we’ve been doing is you can put in front of clients and candidates, the option here of this 90-day program that allows them to think, “Oh, it’s real”.
A great example is I’ve worked with an exec from Amazon who left Amazon, he was originally curious about the role because of that 90-day piece.
He was like actually, most organisations will talk about investing in their people, they don’t actually evidence it, and what he loved from day one was the commitment they showed with a coaching programme.
That’s how much we are committed on day one, we’ll start back like, wow, that was a real game-changer.
You had the conversations and were successful with the job as well, so it worked really well.
Brilliant Laurent, as always, I’m super grateful for your time.