Taking on a new job is exciting, especially if it is a job you have longed for.
Yet, the stakes are high. Studies show that more than 40 percent of newly transferred or promoted executives fail to meet expectations in some way in the first eighteen months in their new role. And, the risk is even higher for external hires.
What causes keen, motivated individuals to stumble at the senior level? Perhaps the strengths that got them where they are today are no longer relevant, or they face unfamiliar challenges for which they have no frame of reference. Or, maybe they miss an important step in orienting themselves to an organisation, its people and its organisational culture.
Many executives we have met have a track record of successes in previous roles because they had a high level of energy and a track record for making things happen. This makes it quite natural for them to focus on doing at the expense of listening, assessing and planning.
Time in the first 90 days in a job is precious. Priorities for new leaders must be learning about the organisation, developing a plan for the business and building relationships with key stakeholders and team members to establish trust.
Combined with the pressure to perform, newly appointed leaders can easily overlook some of the critical requirements for a successful transition.
There is no one-size-fits all approach to help leaders settle into a new firm. Companies have to revisit their approach to the onboarding process for new leaders. Effective onboarding must be ingrained into a company’s culture, since it helps in building trust in face-to-face and remote work.
The good news is that there is a proven leader onboarding process for making the most of these early days and creating a strong foundation for future success. Over 1,000 people have participated in our five-stage approach for newly appointed leaders.
The opportunity to have a skilled onboarding coach to help speed this process and support mastering new skills can be a particularly welcoming onboarding experience. We have found that leaders are particularly open to self-development at this time, especially if they are faced with unfamiliar challenges.
From an organisational perspective, supported onboarding greatly enhances the employer brand. Immediate impressions and early experiences in the new working environment are incredibly important. It has been shown that people generally make up their minds if they made the right move within the first four weeks.
An unexpected benefit of the structured onboarding program became evident when a newly appointed leader said that it had changed the way he would manage people forever. He reported that he turned the principles of analysing the new job, assessing personal capacity to deliver and planning for success into a long-term career practice.