This is the third article in a three-part series that shares onboarding best practices for HR teams and outlines a five-step process on how to integrate a new leader across the functional, cultural and organizational dimensions of your organization. Read the first article and second article in the series.
Leadership Integration is defined as a strategic and intentional onboarding process that positions a new leader for success in the Functional, Cultural and Organizational imperatives of a new role.
“Research indicates 40% of new senior executives fail within the initial 18 months.” – Center for Creative Leadership
Onboarding Process: How to Organizationally Integrate a New Leader
Over the last two articles, I explained the onboarding best practices to Functionally and Culturally integrate a leader into their new role. When we look at the last dimension of a transformational leader, we must look at the organizational aspect of integration. In other words, what are the leadership competencies and alignment essential to sustain organizational excellence?
This is arguably one of the toughest facets of integrating a new leader. Organizational success relies on a new leader’s ability to understand the existing leadership model at the company and how it relates to their position. To do this, we’ll once again follow our 5-step process for leadership integration.
To assess Organizational fit and establish a plan for integration, you must ask questions to determine the Current State or current leadership model in place. Reach out to the hiring manager and critical stakeholders and ask what leadership competencies and priorities will lead to success in this organization. Ask questions around:
- What do those competencies needed for success look like?
- What do they not look like?
- What will this leader and their team need to demonstrate?
- What does success and failure look like based on the leadership model of the organization?
- How can this leader prioritize their work to provide organization-wide contribution?
Questions like these will help you understand how and if the leadership model needs to shift for this person to be successful. For example, let’s say that you have established that the primary competency of the C-Suite team at the organization is to Lead Change initiatives. However, a new CHRO would also need to act as an Influencer to lead the company through this process. The leadership model and expectations must be well-defined and articulated to ensure the leader is focused and strategic in their Influencer role.
Incorporate this current state information to Cast the Organizational Vision for this role. Encourage the new leader to meet with their team to determine how they will be supporting the overall organizational strategy and priorities. Some teams might be siloed and focus on singular and transactional goals. Others might need to focus on enterprise contribution and how those impact other departments. A great tool to do this is incorporating a team assessment and teambuilding session.
After meeting with their team, a new leader can determine if any realignment is required. Expectations for work might be changed and if they are, the new leader must Provide the Tools for their team to succeed. A “roles and responsibility” activity will guide the team and provide a system to measure goals and monitor progress.
To ensure organizational alignment, sit down with other stakeholders to determine if they’re receiving what they need from you and your team. Stakeholders can be internal to your department or external during this phase. Using our previous example of a new CHRO, internal stakeholders would be their CFO, CEO, COO and external stakeholders might be operations sales, or benefits and HR solution providers. Ask them, “What’s working? What isn’t? How can we better support you and your team?”
With goals established based on team and stakeholder feedback, this new leader can start to Lead the Way. Measurable progress is essential in this stage. Performance goals for the new leader and the team must be set. Limit initiatives to ensure clarity, focus, quality and make sure they support overall organizational priorities. Show the connection of what they do on a day to day basis to the overall strategic goals of the organization. Show team members their work provides value to the larger mission of the company. This focused plan will lead the way to Sustain Success further down the line. When the team shifts to better support the organization, make sure the new leader has a plan to celebrate those successes explaining impact and appreciation.
Communicating and celebrating success is an essential part of any integration process. Organizational wins must be communicated not only to the new leader but to their team and others in the organization. This builds the foundation of trust in the new leader’s capabilities and this foundation will sustain progress much longer than the first 120 days on the job.
Ginger Duncan, MA is a senior leadership consultant and executive coach with The Human Capital Group, an executive search and leadership advisory firm. She has over 20 years of experience in leadership development, coaching, facilitation and training, plus 11 years leading the talent development function in a corporate setting.