Executive Onboarding – Getting Off to a Great Start


We were recently called to coach a senior leader who had been with the company for 24 months.  During the onboarding period, the leader experienced a series of personal stressors. Unfortunately, during his 18thmonth in the role this leader came to understand he had unintentionally alienated the majority of the executive team.

By the time we were called to “fix” the problem, perceptions about the leader were already firmly embedded. Significant effort on the part of the leader would be required to alter these perceptions, repair trust, and build quality working relationships with the executive team and other leaders of the company.

Executive onboarding ensures new leaders begin with a great start in their new positions. However, the time constraints of internal staff often make it difficult to provide the onboarding experience that new leaders need to guarantee success. Typically, internal onboarding processes include HR orientation, a list of people to become acquainted with in the organization, and a meeting with the hiring manager to create a vague 30-60-90 day plan.

However, with 40% to 64% of new leaders failing in the first 18 months on the job (the higher percentages typically resulting from the new hire having a different industry background), executives often require more support than what is typically provided by internal staff during the onboarding process.

External coaches can provide a robust onboarding program for new leaders, leading them through a proven process while helping them to assimilate into the culture of the organization. Emphasis is also placed on leveraging strengths and managing potential blind spots that could lead to derailment. Throughout the onboarding experience, the coach acts as a sounding board, raises thought-provoking questions, and provides a critical external perspective to the leader.

Content for discussions between the external coach and the leader during the onboarding period (usually three to six months) may include the following:

  • Organizational culture and dynamics
  • Integration of leadership style
  • Critical information review
  • Stakeholder mapping
  • Learning plan development
  • Meeting preparation – stakeholders, town hall, functional team, etc.
  • Identification of long-term opportunities and early wins
  • Selection of an internal Board of Directors or trusted advisors
  • Functional/business realignment strategy
  • Development of an 18-month leadership platform and key initiatives
  • Communication strategy
  • Creation of metrics
  • Team assessment/development
  • Team building
  • Priority and goal setting
  • Self and stress management strategies

Skilled executive onboarding coaches ensure that new leaders soar to a great start by focusing on the implementation of a proven process embedded with best practices, cultural assimilation, and self-management. Onboarding coaching investments have a strong ROI as they greatly reduce the possibility of failure in the first 18 months, saving organizations’ losses in productivity and recruitment costs that result in turnover.

Tamara has over 20 years of experience guiding and empowering leaders in transition – whether transitioning into new areas or greater levels of responsibility inside the organization – or transitioning from one company to another. She leverages strong assessment abilities, a talent for structuring process and action steps, a systems perspective, and well-honed coaching skills to assist clients in selecting and implementing purposeful behavior that will produce desired results.

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