How Coaching Supports the On-Boarding Process

I recently listened in to a really interesting Webinar on On-Boarding from CPI (Career Partners International).  As an executive coach this is an area of particular interest, as many of my current assignments involve supporting leaders into new roles (up to the point of hire) or later on in their career when they wish to maximise their leadership potential.  What startled me was how little support there was at the 'transition to new role' stage.

The business case for On-boarding:

1) A typical hire costs anything from 50% to 200% of an executive annual salary;

2) 70% of hiring managers believe that success or failure during the transition phase is a strong predictor of overall success in the new role

3) Failure rates for executive hires has stood still at around the 40% mark for the last 3 years (Forbes 2012)

Yet only around 25% of organisations are currently providing support for their newly hired executives and senior managers.  Many interviewed for the webinar stated that time and budget constraints were the greatest factors that impinged on providing support.  Given the cost and time of replacement - this surely cannot be a good enough reason to do nothing.

The reasons for executive drop out are diverse but in summary there are some common themes:

1) Inability to establish key relationship and partnerships with key stakeholders

2) Failure to align with company culture

3) Ineffective people management and team building skills

4) Political missteps

5) Lack of feedback about performance 

With 80% of new hires deciding whether to stay in first 6 months and 25% choosing to leave (Aberdeen Group, 2013) there is a clear cost benefit in providing support in the early stages of the executive's new career.  

Could coaching be the missing piece of the jigsaw?

 One of the biggest benefits of engaging with a coach earlier is to accelerate leadership success and aid transition to the new role and environment. Highly recommended would be an initial three way meeting with the executive's line manager and other stakeholders to set clear objectives for the first 90 days in post.  

Working within the framework of 'Success Strategies for New Leaders' (M Watkins, Havard Business School Press, 2003) an individual development plan is drawn up, with regular check ins with other stakeholders to ensure progress against objectives.

The coaching process may include stakeholder mapping and engagement, cultural barometer tools and techniques for stakeholder engagement, building an effective team, as well as understanding personal impact and behaviour in relation to the new environment and culture.

The beauty of the coaching approach is that it is tailored to individual development needs. It also provides a structured, confidential and safe space for newly appointed executives to work on potential derailers as well as capitalising on strengths.

With only a small percentage of organisations currently taking up this type of coaching it is difficult to say what impact it will have on the drop out rates reported by Forbes.  But given the extensive cost of hiring, the demand for and shortage of talent, and increasing pressures on executives to hit the ground running, on-boarding coaching would be a sensible option to invest in. It begs the question, why aren't more organisations providing it?

I'd welcome feedback from executives and HR professionals who are thinking about on-boarding as a developmental approach, or from organisations who are using it extensively.