Executive onboarding – The 100 day race

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Andy Raymond.



Andy Raymond, Redline Executive Director has provided on-boarding assistance and guidance to hundreds of C and D level candidates in the last 35 years.

New executives should consider their first 100 days on the board as a trial period. Some would argue that if they perform poorly in the first 100 days, the game is already up. According to Forbes article ‘The key to accelerating success and reducing risk in a new job, the most effective executive onboarding should include:

Getting a head start
Managing the message
Setting direction and building the team
Sustain momentum and deliver results

The gravity of a new business leader’s responsibility is inarguable. However, successful executive onboarding can greatly improve one’s odds of getting through the make-or-break period. The quality of onboarding support received very much depends on the hiring company and its board. Ideally, from the moment a new board member is hired, a formal executive onboarding programme will commence in close collaboration with the new hire’s ambitions, focusing on their understanding of the company and its challenges.

Preparation is key. As a new CEO, CIO, CFO or CCO, you should prepare yourself for the possibility of resistance in the new working environment. Some of your new colleagues will likely find it anxiety triggering to acknowledge that the future could hold major modifications of existing strategies and processes.

Many employees and even top executives find it difficult to accept a new leader and believe in new authority, especially if employee tenure is high.  It is your job as CEO to win your management team and employees over and earn their trust by providing evidence that you are capable of taking on this role. The sooner you understand the corporate culture, the faster you will become an accepted member, which will allow you to drive necessary and important changes.
This depends to a great extent on onboarding. Here are some steps you can take to set the stage for onboarding success:-

  • Analyse - Initiate a meticulous analysis of the company’s strategy.
  • Expectations - Balance expectations with the chairman of the board (this can be initiated during the recruitment phase).
  • Transparency - Make sure all of your communication is clear and unambiguous.
  • Visibility - Make yourself visible internally and externally. Be curious and get to know your company and customers in-depth.
  • Engagement - Start evaluating and setting up your management team.

The board and hiring organisation have obligations too. Taking ownership of your role in your own onboarding is very important; however, the responsibility is not solely on your shoulders. The hiring company has a big stake in making the recruit successful. Redline Executive provide assistance and guidance in the preparation and presentation of offers to the chosen candidates. Once an offer has been accepted, Redline Executive maintain close contact with the candidate to guide them through the resignation process to a successful start with the option of further review points and / or the continued involvement of Board Advisors as a confident and intermediary through the on-boarding process.

Poor planning on the part of the company prior to the new CEO’s appointment, unreasonable expectations and ambiguous guidelines for the content of the position can lead to disastrous outcomes for the new CEO, who often cannot fix the problems caused by others within a short time frame. Onboarding is a difficult process and it takes time, but the investment made will definitely pay off. 

It is vital to have support from the board, the management team and employees at all levels of the organisation. Without optimal planning for the transition, the newcomer will find it exceedingly difficult to gain support for their decisions and lay the groundwork for change.

In order to make the transition from one CEO job to another as smooth and effective as possible, every part of the business must be well equipped and prepared to be led by a new, unknown person who may have entirely different views on the direction of the organisation. Following the recruitment process, with all of the time and expense that involves executive onboarding is a strategic tool of utmost importance.

There must be transparent expectations. For the executive onboarding process to be successful as a new CEO, it is important to ensure that the board clearly defines, in writing, directions on the content and parameters of the position. When you take the top job in the firm your relationship and cooperation with the board may be redefined from what existed previously, and new roles might be created.

In relation to the board, expectations must be aligned to avoid future conflicts or uncertainty about the role’s perquisite responsibilities and competencies, as well as the nature and timing of new strategies. This will ensure you know exactly what is expected as the company’s new CEO. The hiring company must make an effort to introduce you to the company in the best possible way.

According to the Harvard Business Review, the use of the word “onboarding” to describe the work companies do for new hires suggests the word “integration” should be used instead. Integration suggests a more aspirational goal—doing what it takes to make the new person a fully functioning member of the team as quickly and smoothly as possible. Find out more on how structured integration can ease an Executive’s transition in to a new business by clicking here.

The first 100 days is a crucial time to begin formulating new goals and opportunities a new leader has for the future of the company. They must be well prepared, communicate expectations clearly, arrange and conduct meetings to get to know the company, and dedicate all the time needed to hit the ground running in their new leadership role.

To find out more about Redline Executives Process, please click here.

For a confidential discussion on C and D Level jobs, please call Andy Raymond – Director on +44 (0)1582 450054 or send an email to ARaymond@RedlineExecutive.com 

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