7 steps outside coaches implement to onboard and transition new hires

Onboarding and transition coaching are designed to make more efficient integration and assimilation processes of new hire executives. According to research, 60% of all C-Level positions are filled with outside candidates vs. internal promotions, and it usually takes 6 to 9 months for effective assimilation to happen.

A good transition coach will help both the company and the new hire create an onboarding plan which will help him/her to more effectively interact with the team and key stakeholders, gain timely feedback, and overcome cultural challenges. According to McKinsey, a tailored coaching and a customized integration program can result in doubling the success rate of a new hire, whereas a poor plan can result in having 20% of direct reports disengaged and business results being at least 15% below target.

An outside coach can help the new hire focus on the following steps which are considered critical by experts for a smooth transition program:


Create a quick “elevator speech” as to why the new hire joined the company and how his/her tenure will positively impact the organization. First impressions are lasting and all interactions with key players need to be positive.


Create a plan to gain knowledge. The new hire executive needs to understand the company's strategic and operational priorities quickly. He/She also needs to understand what the current performance is, where the capabilities are, and what the hurdles are. It is important for the new hire to have or create a system to understand how his/her team is impacting the organization. Since the new hire will manage strategy in some capacity, he/she needs to understand your organization’s goals. If possible, allow him/her to reach out to prior incumbents, external advisors, key stakeholders, top performers and the unit’s manager if warranted to create this understanding quickly. Show the new hire’s management competencies and political savvy early to demonstrate their expertise in managing day to day decisions.


The new hire needs to quickly understand how the position will be measured, what is expected of him/her and how he/she can make a difference. Boundaries need to be set early with managers, coworkers, and direct reports.


It is critical to avoid failure. The new hire will need to quickly learn how things work here vs. his/her prior job (e.g. What are the values, norms and guiding principles? What is acceptable behavior? How can the team work within this framework to achieve objectives?) The new hire will need to seek active and frequent feedback to avoid repeating behaviors which can change the perception of their intent and capabilities.


Building teams is more important than making quick wins at the beginning. The new hire must understand and assess the competencies of the team. Meet and talk with all reports and work with Human Resources to speed the process, give and request frequent feedback, and if possible, begin with a team building activity. The creation of a sound working environment will help create trust with the team. Allow the new hire to take time and not to rush with decisions. Direct reports want a leader who shows sound judgement, who listens to them, and who consults with them and other key stakeholders before deciding on an issue. Communication is critical at this early stage. The new hire should repeat what he/she thinks he/she understood and have others repeat what he/she said to make sure they are all on the same page.


The new hire should identify the key stakeholders and understand how his/her job affects them, how he/she can meet their expectations and align initiatives with them. Set up or establish regular communication meetings so that he/she is aligned with peers and with the Manager. The new hire must make sure he/she creates a connection strategy and adjust his/her behavior accordingly.


The new hire will need to set up a strategic vision or plan in alignment with the manager, the team and key stakeholders. Most CEOs take 8 months before they propose a new vision. The new hire must work with the team to select what the critical levers are that will impact the organization and also identify what projects need to stop so that focus is placed on these levers. Once all members are aligned, he/she can begin to act and gain strategic wins on it. Our Transition Coaches will help align expectations with the company, manager and new hires as well as give feedback when needed and will work with the new hire to help refine the onboarding plan. Our coaches will offer advice, ask the relevant questions to get the new hire fast on track, act as an objective sounding board and will help align behaviors to the new organization.

McKinsey & Company
Harvard Business Review
Harvard Business Review
The Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania

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