A recent paper from Mercer titled Leading the People Function offers some excellent advice on onboarding a new C-level human resource officer. But it’s not just Chief People Officers who need intentional and focused onboarding; anyone taking on a position in the C-suite is stepping into a role of greatly increased responsibility and scrutiny. The first 100 days can make or break a tenure in the C-suite, and leaders may benefit from additional guidance through this critical period.
Here are five things to think about when onboarding a new C-level leader:
1. Design a Blueprint
Creating a detailed blueprint for the first 100 days of leadership can help provide structure to what can easily be a chaotic or scattered time. “Do an assessment to really understand what’s happening in the organization, and then chart a course and lay a blueprint for what a good executive will do,” says Nolan Godfrey, Executive Consultant out of Texas. Tailor the blueprint for the organization, position, and unique challenges and goals of the new executive, and include 30/60/90-day goals and outcomes.
2. Encourage Listening
Leaders and executives can often be scolded for a lack of listening, says Taura Prosek, Executive Coach in Wisconsin, but there are a lot of opportunities to use a combination of data and discovery to improve this skill for new leaders. “I view it as getting curious and asking open-ended questions and letting there be a pause so that other voices can be heard,” says Prosek.
3. Make it Iterative
The first days of a new leadership role may involve assessments and listening tours, followed by developing a strategy or action plan in isolation. “New leaders should conduct iterative loops with their primary sponsors,” says David Thurston, Executive Consultant in the Washington, DC, area. A CEO who has brought someone in to drive change or transformation shouldn’t just drive them into the office alone. Iterative loop collaboration needs to happen.
4. Work Toward Collective Responsibility
Too often, at the executive level, a focus on one’s role may lead to a lack of understanding or ownership over more wide-ranging business concerns. “I sense that the accountability of the entire organization is often removed from the mind of the CHRO and given over to maybe the CEO or the operations team,” says John Stewart, Founder and CEO. “This phrase collective responsibility reminds us that everyone at the senior level is accountable for the health, wealth, and wellbeing of everybody [in the company].” As new executive leaders join the team, they should all work together toward collective responsibility for the entire organization.
5. Assign a Dedicated Transition Coach
Rather than simply taking a “plug and play” approach to hiring a new executive, consider providing a transition coach to help the leader assimilate and adapt to the new role. “A dedicated transition coach can help the new leader build relationships, develop strategy, and strengthen their talent and team,” says Daniel Stewart, President. The transition coach should start working with the new leader before the first day, if possible, to help establish some early relationships and create a strategy for the first few months.
Few things can be as exciting as adding new voices to senior leadership. By taking the time to set up your new leaders for the best outcomes possible, you will improve their chances of a successful tenure.