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Could Executive Onboarding Have Saved Volkswagen?

Kristen Harcourt Oct 6, 2015 10:00:01 AM

bigstock-colourful-hippie-volkswagen-f-25610990With executive heads rolling at Volkswagen following their recent scandal, it may be a good time for companies to think about what they do to prepare new hires and promotions to take on leadership roles.

Research indicates that 40 percent of new leaders fail within 18 months. That number is even higher for outside hires, and much higher for hires from outside the industry. Some estimates I’ve seen put the cost of executive turnover as high as 400%. Have a look at your C-suite payroll and do the math on that one!

We all know onboarding helps with retention and setting people up for success, but do you have a special executive onboarding program?

We recently release a comprehensive ebook: The Ultimate Guide to Employee Onboarding. Here’s an excerpt from the section on executive onboarding.

Why New Leaders Fail

A study by Career Partners International found six major reasons why so many new leaders fail:

  • Lack of essential partners or connections
  • Unfamiliar with the office politics and lacking the support to learn them
  • Inability to fit into the corporate culture
  • Lack of understanding of their role
  • Not enough feedback/coaching
  • Unsuccessful management of their people and poor team building skills

Connections, fit, understanding, feedback and team building take time. Expecting productivity without investing time towards these five elements is costly. Like any other employees, executives need up to a year of onboarding.That may seem like a long time, but the return on this investment is well worth it.

Executive Onboarding Best Practices

Relationship Building: A study by management psychologist Debra Hughes found that 82 percent of executives weren’t building proper relationships. She attributes this to their focus on results over relations. Relationships can be built through outings or one-on-ones with team members and stakeholders. Ensure the new executive has a list of key internal contacts and create a schedule to meet with each one.

Briefing on key players: An executive may be connecting with external stakeholders. A briefing with anyone who knows these stakeholders can help set the executive up for success. Similarly, a briefing with his onboarding coach or manager about key internal stakeholders can also help her navigate these new relationships.

Onboarding Coach: Your executive won’t always have a team of people familiar with the organization at the level they require. An onboarding coach is someone who’s extremely knowledgeable about the organization both socially and logistically. This will also take some work away from busy HR or hiring managers.

Create a 30, 60, 90 day plan: Don’t leave things to chance. Work with the new executive and his manager, to build out these plans aligned with company mission, strategy and priorities.

Improving Executive Onboarding with Assessments

According to Dr. Marshall Goldsmith, writing in the Harvard Business Review, the most important trait for a successful leader is self-awareness. In order to succeed, organizations depend on a variety of talents and skills that no one leader could possibly possess.

“A leader who is self-aware enough to know that he or she is not adept at everything,” Dr. Goldsmith writes, “is one who has taken the first step toward being a great leader.”

To achieve this, a leader must understand his or her behavior, motivators, and competencies. This is where The McQuaig System can help.

The McQuaig Self-Development Survey provides a detailed, easy-to-understand report full of insights into natural patterns of behavior. It offers actionable feedback on leveraging strengths, managing development areas, and includes a Personal Action Plan.

Make reviewing and using this report to form an executive’s development plan a part of onboarding and you’ll greatly increase the likelihood that your executive will succeed and grow.

For more tips and best practices on effective employee onboarding download the complete guide for free here.

Do you do anything special when orienting new executives? Share your ideas in the comments section.


 

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Topics: Employee Engagement, Leadership development, Employee retention

Kristen Harcourt

Written by Kristen Harcourt

Kristen Harcourt is a highly trusted, creative and collaborative advisor who is passionate about people. She really enjoys helping companies make the right people decisions to achieve long term productivity.