Key hires must be acclimated to new environments, company strategy and your organizational mission as quickly as possible. How a company brings new people on board is vital to building a foundation for long-term success. When it is not done correctly, problems can ensue and persist.

Consider the following:

Sam was being groomed for promotion from the VP/GM of his company’s most profitable subsidiary to President of the parent company. He enjoyed a successful working relationship with Pat, his company’s number two and his most trusted employee. Each expected that Pat would succeed Sam when the time came.

However, life events began to shift Pat’s perspective about work-life balance and she came to terms with a decision the time had come for her to move on. She met with Sam, who was not surprised with the announcement because Pat had been open and honest about her desire for a change.

The search to replace Pat was well planned and included thoughtful interviews, psychometric surveys (e.g., OAD), comprehensive follow-ups and thorough evaluations. Two finalists were identified and sent to corporate headquarters for further scrutiny.

After more rounds of interviews and evaluation, Jan was selected via consensus as Pat’s replacement. Jan had experience in relevant industries, appropriate management capabilities, and demonstrated the perspective necessary to support Sam’s strategy going forward.

Clearly, the company was happy with their choice, but integrating this new hire into the business was not as well planned as the selection process.

Arriving on her first day, Jan was excited and optimistic about her new role and company. An HR professional greeted Jan and escorted her through the building, introducing her as the new executive. Most of the day, however, focused on employee benefits and paperwork, HR policies, and facility logistics. She met with Sam only late in the day for a brief “welcome” meeting.

Jan arrived earlier than most employees on the second day so she could begin gaining insight about the organization (this would become her routine—a way for her to stay in tune with the operation).

Sam met with Jan periodically during her first week to ensure she heard his message about mission and vision. But beyond that, Jan was essentially left on her own to learn about the people, their jobs, and company politics.

Without input from Sam nor other managers, Jan started forming opinions about employees, their capacities and competencies, and even started creating her own value hierarchy, judging who might stay and who might need to go. These early interactions left employees with bad impressions of Jan. They began to spread rumors that she had her own agenda at odds with the current environment.

In the ideal scenario, Sam would have properly on-boarded Jan, fully integrating her into her “new” organization in a planful way. In-depth conversations with various employees would have helped Jan gain a better understanding of the company. A proper 30-, 60- or 90-day plan would have been prepared so Jan could learn the business.

When bringing on a new executive, be prepared with a plan. Here are some ideas to assist in the process:

Week One

  1. The employee’s new boss should discuss the organizational chart and orient the new hire, covering (at a minimum):
  2. The new hire should meet with HR to review benefits, policies, etc.
  3. The new hire should meet with respective peers, subordinates, and department leaders to begin learning the business and industry, and to learn about clients.
  • History
  • Strategy
  • Financials
  • Developmental professional/personal needs.

Week Two

The new hire should:

  1. Establish a regular meeting schedule with his/her new boss to:
  • Reinforce strategy
  • Reinforce financial goals
  • Discuss opportunities and tools for developmental efforts.
  1. Continue meetings with employees.
  2. Continue meetings with clients.

Week Three

The new hire should:

  1. Reinforce meeting schedule with his/her new boss.
  2. Continue meetings with employees.
  3. Continue meetings with clients.
  4. Determine training schedule.

Then, on an ongoing basis, the new hire should:

  1. Continue meetings with new boss.
  2. Continue meetings with subordinates.
  3. Continue meetings with employees.
  4. Determine support for subordinates in their development/training.

Changing personnel is one of the most difficult aspects of running a business. The more a leader prepares for such a change and the more time is spent with new employees, the better the chance of transitioning without a hitch in the company’s success and profitability.

The choice is yours!

Stuart Friedman is president of Progressive Management Associates. He is a business visionary who guides organizations through cultural shifts. He promotes environments that inspire collaboration, transparency in the pursuit of strategic outcomes and heart-felt desires. Reach Stuart via email: stuart@pma-co.com