All Aboard for the New Executive
Strategy for Success
Why Executive On-boarding Matters
By Kathy B. Bruns
The good news: An executive has accepted a position with your company. The bad news: The chance of failure is great should he or she arrive on the job without a strategy for success.
Studies have shown that one-third of managers and executives leave organizations within 18 months. The direct cost of a failed hire can be as much as 10 times the executive’s salary (e.g., recruitment, relocation and severance expenses; loss of productivity).
On-boarding is a shared responsibility between the newly hired executive and the company. This process requires dedicated resources and attention, and should be managed closely. The new executive has three major tasks: learn about the business, build relationships and set the stage for performance.
What to do before your first day
Now is the time to get a deeper understanding of your new employer by learning more about its culture, history, values, vision, mission, strategies, leadership structure and metrics.
Request and review company brochures, newsletters and customer mailings. Also, gather items such as:
- List of board members and committees
- Minutes for board and committee meetings held during the last year
- Organizational charts
- Job descriptions
- Past performance evaluations (if available) of the leadership team
- Calendar of events (board meetings, conventions and training opportunities)
- List of things you want to accomplish in the first 30 days
First 90 days
The first priority of a new executive should be to listen and learn. Take the time to meet co-workers. Have open-ended conversations about the organization’s role and responsibilities. Ask questions about the person who held your role in the past. Seek to understand what makes people tick and what strengths they bring to the business.
The executive’s second priority should be to learn about the communication process. This is critical for receiving and providing effective feedback. Meet with the human resources team to get a deeper understanding of the corporate culture, morale and diversity.
Creating and maintaining internal relationships is crucial in grasping how a company works. The direct relationship of a team, peers and a boss needs to be a priority. This is often what makes or breaks a newly appointed executive.
Next, the new hire should try to build relationships with suppliers, customers, competitors and strategic partners. This will be critical in gaining a total view of the organization.
Setting the stage
- Be clear on priorities and goals, which will help evaluate performance
- Understand and embrace the organization’s vision
- Communicate your action plan during the first 30, 60 and 90 days
The company’s responsibility
Make the new executive feel like a part of the team before he/she even reports to work. Send the executive a copy of the press release announcing his or her hire along with business cards and a schedule outlining the first 30 days of employment.
The first day on the job
- Post a welcome sign in the reception area
- Communicate to employees about the new executive (e.g., background and role within the company)
- Provide executive with office equipment and an orientation schedule
- Treat the employee to lunch (prior to the executive’s first day, schedule future lunches with various employees)
Communication and support are keys to successful integration. During the first six months, it is important that a system is in place for exchanging ongoing feedback. It may be helpful for the company – some would say critical – to have a “designated coach” or “executive peer” to work closely with the new executive. This allows for constant feedback, effective team development and expedited trust building. This also can assist in identifying any potential issues and concerns the new executive may have. He or she can’t “do it all” immediately – guidance is needed to focus the transition toward the most productive direction.
It is critical during the first six months that the direct manager gives the new executive extra time and attention to ensure that goals and expectations are clear and that feedback and mentoring are provided.
In closing, successful executive on-boarding is critical to the success of the organization and the employee. Be prepared. If you need help, there are numerous businesses that provide coaches and solutions to assist companies with new executives.
Author: Kathy B. Bruns is president and CEO of KB Search Team, LLC. She can be contacted at (260) 489-3350 or www.kbsearchteam.com