BY NANCY SWAIN, Practice Leader, Career Transitions/Outplacement

The days in which a new executive could take their time to learn what he or she needed to know about the company is over. Those blissful weeks or months when you were not really expected to deliver any results but just “get to know” the people and the culture, be out and about and take advantage of community activities — like a honeymoon.

Well, there is no honeymoon and no real time to “enjoy the moment” before substantive results are expected. The day you show up for work, the honeymoon is over and reality begins. So, I want to make the case for effective onboarding.

After a company has invested upwards of $40,000, or much more, working with a recruiter to get the right person for the job, it makes no sense not to assist the new hire in establishing a solid foundation to build their success on. It’s a win-win!

As we know, healthcare reform has created a climate where senior executives are increasingly driven by the bottom line, shareholder expectations, and government regulation. There is precious little time to adapt to the culture. Onboarding is NOT Orientation. It’s nice to help a new hire find their way around the physical facility, it’s yet another matter to help them “find their way around”.

According to Forbes, 40% of new hires are pushed out, fail or quit within 18 months. It’s expensive not only to the bottom line but also to morale.

This transition period for a new executive is often one of the most challenging times in his or her professional life. The new hire must contribute to productivity and outcomes, as well as oversee direct reports and assist them in their success. All of this while he or she is adjusting to not only a new position in a new culture but often in a new city, a new house, putting their children in new schools, and so on.

The importance of successful onboarding should be well understood and the practice should be standard. Too often, the success of the new executive seems to be left to chance. The newly hired executive needs the support of formal customized and personal onboarding that will help them establish key relationships, align with company culture, bring role clarity, offer counsel, provide warning indicators, and accelerate integration into the leadership team.

If you are a new hire or are looking for your next position, be sure to ask what the onboarding program is. You would never go on an adventurous vacation without knowing something about the place, the hotel, the sights to see, the culture, the currency, the weather, the population, the transportation options, the food, the history, the people, the language, and “things you must do” recommendations. Yet, a new hire walks into a position as “the chosen one”, with good intentions and a bundle of skills hoping to maneuver their way to success.

Remember, it’s onboarding NOT orientation.

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