Executive Onboarding: The Importance of a Strong Process

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Actions taken for and by an organization for a new executive leader in the first 90-days on the job can determine if the new executive fails or succeeds.

It’s been my experience that organizations put a great deal of effort into identifying, attracting, interviewing, and hiring a new leader. Yet, the same effort is not exerted to ensure the new leader’s success. One way to improve the success of a new executive leader, is to ensure there is a well-defined executive onboarding plan.

Your organization has just made a huge investment of time, energy and money to acquire a talented new leader, now it’s time to ensure there is a return on your human capital asset. I recommend following the six P’s–Proper Prioritization, Planning, and Preparation Prevents Problems–to start your new hire on the road to success.

A thorough executive onboarding plan can take as long as a year to afford a new leader an opportunity to get a feel for the how things get done at the organization, assimilate into the culture, understand who are the key stakeholders, who comprises the functional leadership, the strengths of the  departmental team, the Board of Directors, etc.

There is a significant difference between an employee orientation and an employee onboarding plan and every organization should have both. An orientation is a single event, part of an onboarding plan and is generally a one-or two-day process (at the most), typically conducted with several other new hires (a captive audience) to execute on things common to all new hires (i.e., paperwork, general information about the organization, the brand, expectations, rules and guidelines, benefits, etc.) regardless of position.

Onboarding is a customized guided and supported process that is very specific and unique to an individual, a position, and/or job function for the purpose of allowing a newly hired employee the opportunity to quickly gain knowledge, build relationships, and receive input and feedback to accelerate the learning curve to get the new employee up to speed to fuel success.

  • Do not make mistake #1 – “We have hired a sharp new leader, he will figure it out.”
  • Do not allow your new executive leader to make mistake #2 – “I must make my mark as soon as possible and prove myself.”

A few key elements to a successful onboarding plan include:

  • A detailed initial 90-day Executive Onboarding Plan;
  • Initiates the plan with the new executive leader before that person starts the new role;
  • Create a strong first impression by ensuring the new executive’s office is set up/outfitted and has a welcome basket;
  • Schedule a meet and greet with functional peers and the departmental team respectively within the first two days on the job;
  • Identify and assign an internal peer as a buddy/mentor;
  • Outline who the key stakeholders the new executive should meet within the first 90 days of their tenure;
  • Provide an executive coach;
  • Ensure that a 30-60-90 day check-in process with immediate supervisor is in place.

Research shows that new executive hires with the proper onboarding are more engaged in their roles and in the organization and have a greater likelihood of being highly successful.

Reginald L. Stover - GUEST BLOGGER

Chief People and Employee Experience Officer Certified Executive Coach

Reggie Stover is a proven Human Resource Executive with over 25 years of experience driving executional excellence as a forward-thinking, transformational HR Professional. Reggie has worked in public, private, non-profit and private equity, in complex, multi-discipline companies including some of the “most admired” for HR, provider of wise counsel, culture driver, and trusted confidante in top tier organizations such as Pepsi, GE, Nestle, Cleveland Clinic, Boston’s Children Hospital, and USAA.