CEOWORLD magazine - Latest - Executive Insider - An Effective Executive Onboarding Process Should Have 5 Stages To It

Executive Insider

An Effective Executive Onboarding Process Should Have 5 Stages To It

We all are aware of how Executive Leaders make a difference to the organization. They write the script of the organization for its success. They create a vision, set the direction, and align and motivate employees towards the desired organizational results. Executive Leaders are looked up as a role model, coach, mentor to inspire and energize people around them.

They are almost considered as something of a Panacea for all our business troubles. In many ways, they are responsible for the success or failure of an organization…Yet according to one report, In the US, More than 70 percent of newly hired senior executives leave their positions within the first two years…

Have we ever wondered what it takes in the making of a successful executive leader and what critical support can the Human resources and other key stakeholders of the organization can extend as a support?

Executive Leaders need to establish their credibility in the organization especially if they are external hires in the recent past. The rate and style at which they learn may depend on their individual ability and motivation but it is certain that this learning curve has a positive correlation with the support mechanism provided, and it is at its best when provided in the form of Executive onboarding. In all cases, Executive onboarding makes all the difference between someone becoming a leader in the organization or otherwise.

Check this, Bauer and Erdogan¹ put the cost in the excess of $500,000 for every executive failure below the CEO level! it is a colossal loss! Executive onboarding is not always a smooth sail process and it has plenty of Potential derailers. This is well complimented when the new joined executive may also face possible reality shock, Ineptness, social marginality which is a feeling of insecurity of not having the existing network of trusted colleagues, and sometimes even role ambiguity. All of these present threats for possible early attrition. But the good news is HR can fix this, thanks again to the Executive onboarding.

An effective Executive onboarding process should have 5 stages to it.

1) Selection: The first phase where a selection of the decision is supported by right assessments, behavioral interviews, work characteristics and cultural fitment

2) Pre-boarding: This phase starts typically between 7 to 14 days before joining and it includes a preorientation of the organization facilitated by the HR leader involving multiple key stakeholders. This provides the new leader with all possible information related to the role for a mutual expectation. It also provides much-needed confidence and trust towards the role and the organization

3) Integration: This is usually the most intense phase which extends to the first 30 days of joining. It has 3 main events namely,

  1. -Partner meeting that involves a meeting of the new leader along with the Recruiting manager, HR manager, and a Coach. A key outcome of this is to clearly articulate and agree on the critical goals and objectives to be achieved by the new joined leader in the short term of the first 90 days and the long term of the first year
  2. -Team transition meeting that involves a dialogue between the new leader and the team to familiarize with the work style and the expected outcomes. The key focus for this meet is to drive for accountably within the team
  3. Stake holders mapping and interview have a two-fold purpose. One is to build key relationship and the other is to gather critical information. Both are meant as a means to meet the expectations of the stakeholders

4) Execution: This fourth phase between 30 and 90 days is when organization expects results from the new joined leader. Just as in all the 3 earlier phases, the HR and the coach have a key role to play in this result-oriented phase through ongoing feedback and coaching mechanisms.

5) Settling in: it is the final phase that lasts between 90 to 180 days. Here a metric-driven review such as Operational metrics, Management metrics and Strategic metrics is facilitated by the HR. The focus is to be driven for results and continuous improvement.

Most often, the integration phase proves difficult ropes to learn for the newly hired executives. Here HR can play a key role in assisting the new joined leader in Handling the tools, Mapping the organization, Building a relationship, Understanding the existing culture, and eventually Mastering the position. An investment in executive onboarding has very high returns and there are sufficient pieces of evidence to the same. At American Express, a disciplined onboarding process increased the success rate of new executive hires by 30%. At Hunter Douglas, it reduced the 6 months’ turnover of all new hires from 70 to 16%²!

The Aberdeen survey³ conducted across 700 HR and Business leaders sum it all up about the importance of a good executive onboarding, Over 86% stated that the new hires will make their decision to stay or leave the company within the first six months of their joining. Just about the same average time for any good executive onboarding – 6 months! Further, a branded onboarding is a powerful recruitment tool to pursue executive talents in a shrinking market!


1. Bauer, T.N., Erdogan, B., Linden, R. C, and Wayne, S.J. (2006). A longitudinal study of the moderating role of extraversion: Leader-member exchange, performance and turnover during new executive development. Journal of Applied Psycology, 91, 298-310
2. Corporate Leadership Council (2006). Implementing and managing onboarding programs. Washington, DC. Corporate Executive Board.
3. Aberdeen Group (2008). All aboard: effective onboarding techniques and strategies. Retrived April 4, 2008.

Written by Krishnan Bangaruswamy. Have you read?

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CEOWORLD magazine - Latest - Executive Insider - An Effective Executive Onboarding Process Should Have 5 Stages To It
Krishnan Bangaruswamy
Krishnan Bangaruswamy is Associate Vice President for Human Resources at Omega Healthcare Management Services Pvt. Ltd. He has spent over 16 years in Human Resources, Organizational Development, and Corporate Communication.

Krishnan Bangaruswamy is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. Connect with him through LinkedIn.