Staffing the right talent for an organization may be the most important human resources process. This is especially true for senior leadership positions which may take additional time and resources to fill. It is often the case that the process is very front end loaded with an enormous effort made to find the right person for a key position. The talent acquisition process does not end though after the selection and hiring of a new executive, it just moves into another phase which I believe to be the most critical. This phase is the onboarding or integration of the new leader into the existing structure and environment with the expressed goal of making them successful in their new role.
The Corporate Leadership Council (CLC) found that new executives may fail in a new position for five main reasons:
- They fail to establish a cultural fit.
- They fail to build teamwork with staff and peers.
- They are unclear about the performance expected of them.
- They lack political savvy.
- Their organizations do not have a strategic, formal process to assimilate executives into the organization.
Additional research has shown that organizations with established executive onboarding programs can improve retention rates for new leaders. An effective onboarding process can improve the odds of success for all of the reasons listed above, except for someone lacking political savvy. The implementation and design of an onboarding process may rest with human resources professionals, but the responsibility of helping the new executive become successful should be with the entire leadership team.
There are many actions that can be incorporated into a process, but even for a small organization, just using the CLC’s reasons for failure as things to avoid can help improve a new executive’s effectiveness by ensuring:
- There is a defined process for assimilation.
- The new executive understands the existing culture and norms.
- Performance expectations are established and clearly defined.
- A process is developed for quickly building relationships and teams.
Having an effective onboarding process can be very valuable for an organization, but the most important aspect is to recognize that it is needed and the talent acquisition process does not end when someone accepts an employment offer. That’s when your work begins.