The ‘Leadership 101’ is a series of leadership training articles. We started this knowledge base with the goal of bringing different leadership perspectives from all corners of the web into one easily digestible format. In this series we will be looking at HR industry best practices and trends; in an attempt to keep you informed, while adding to your leadership arsenal. In an attempt to keep this forum open we would like to invite you to provide feedback here or through our@Hire4Impact feed on Twitter
“About 40% of executives who change jobs or get promoted, fail in the first 18 months.” A staggering statistic from the article ‘New Job? Get a headstart now’ (Anne Fisher, 2012). Before we carry on, here’s a quick recap:
In our last installment we talked about onboarding; specifically, the 4 essential tactics that will help your onboarding process (The Onboarding Battle). To put it simply: be prepared on the first day (and before); set expectations early; provide a guide; and focus on relationships. Before we continue, let’s take a quick look at some of the benefits associated with a rock-solid onboarding plan:
- New hires feel welcome and are prepared to help the company complete its mission;
- New hires are valued and feel confident carrying out their tasks;
- Reduced costs associated with turnover;
- Training lead times are reduced;
- Increased morale; and most importantly
- Strengthens the culture of the organization as a whole.
Now you’ve probably heard us mention that the cost of a mis-hire is approximately 3 times their salary. Well here’s another statistic for you to wrap your head around: according to a 2008 IDC report, “US and UK employees cost businesses $37 billion every year because they do not fully understand their jobs.”
This report is a little older and is based off of companies with 100,000 employees, but it does lend some perspective. These issues could be caused by a number of problems:
- New hires have misunderstood/misinterpreted the task at hand;
- New hires were not informed on company rules/policies and business processes; or
- There is a ‘one-size-fits-all’ mentality to the onboarding plan.
In any case, it is rarely just one thing that causes the problem. Moreover, there are still some companies out there that don’t even have an onboarding plan in place.
This week we will be looking at onboarding at the executive level. Think back to that little nugget at the beginning of this article. The article goes on to note that this failure rate stood for at least 15 years. What can we do as an HR community to rectify this situation? If you’re one of those companies using a one-size-fits-all approach, then this article is for you! The problem with a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach is that most onboarding plans are designed for employees and focus on standard topics such as organization policies, HR procedures, and the all-important “here’s the cafeteria.”
When companies fill an executive position, one of two things occurs. Either they hire a candidate from outside the organization, or they promote someone internally. Any way you ‘slice’ it, this individual has to learn all the different ways in which their role is affected – unwritten policies and informal networks that influence how thing really get done. Suppose the new executive was promoted, and for that very reason lacks the necessary leadership experience required to succed – what then?
Whatever the scenario, there needs to be a specialized onboarding strategy in place to bridge the gap for these executives. According to Maggie Moore (Spotlight on Executive Onboarding), “On average, it takes new executives a minimum of six months to become fully productive in their new role.” That’s twice the time required to onboard general employees.
To that end, here are 5 tips to consider for implementing a successful Executive Onboarding plan:
- Program objectives should be relevant to your organization
This is a no-brainer. For your executive onboarding plan to be a success, it has to be tailored to the executives in your organization. A copy-and-paste job will only hurt you in the long run. At the very least, it should help new executives understand the organization’s business goals, culture, clarify performance expectations, and shorten the learning curve associated with the new position.
- Solicit buy-in from senior leadership
As with any operation or process within the organization, it is extremely important to have program support from senior leadership. Failure to do so will only create more roadblocks and ultimately result in the failure of your new executive (cue the blame game).
- Provide a blended learning approach
Make it as easy as possible for the new executive with the right tools and information they need (website/intranet, coaching, mentoring). Make sure (if and whenever possible) that these materials are available in more than one format and easily digestible. More importantly, these materials need to be available at all time during the onboarding process.
- Establish accountability
Assign an executive-level peer or mentor that will ensure the onboarding process is carried out through to completion. The peer/mentor should also be actively providing feedback and answering any questions the candidate may have.
- Monitor and Evaluate
No process is complete without a clear set of metrics – as part of the executive onboarding plan, key success metrics should be recorded and used to evaluate the success of the program.
Taking these initial steps will ensure your organization’s executive onboarding plan is a success. Not only will you have strong leadership within your organization, but leadership retention will also improve.
If you’d like to learn more about creating an onboarding plan, join us for a complementary Lunch & Learn on May 15, 2013 at the Dublin Entrepreneurial Center. Topic of discussion: Create a Rock-solid Onboarding Plan.