Assigning an Executive Coach Improves Transitions and Can Lower Costs
Even after a talent acquisition process that screens scores of candidates, interviews top contenders and picks the best match for a position; the failure rate for new executives within the first 18 months is 40 to 50 percent, according to research. Improving new executive success and retention rates can positively affect strategy development and organizational alignment while increasing hiring return on investment (ROI).
So, how do you get from making the offer to making sure your new hire is on a fast track to success, both from an individual and a corporate point of view? From my experience, assigning an executive coach during the onboarding process is the most expedient move for helping your new executive assimilate and begin achieving organizational goals.
One thing is for certain: what worked in one organizational culture won’t necessarily work in another. Yet, new leaders are expected to drive results to higher levels based on success achieved with previous employers. This is where breakdowns happen. As Peter Drucker said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”
For success, it is imperative to quickly become acquainted with the new organization’s landscape and culture. But there are significant challenges to smooth beginnings: New leaders don’t yet know the capabilities of their teams; team members don’t yet know how best to work with their new leader; too often, new leaders lack allies to seek counsel in their new enterprise or are reluctant to ask for help. After all, they were hired with great expectations. Why seek help or advice to do what they were able to achieve elsewhere?
Pride Comes Before the Fall
As an executive coach and former HR leader, I’ve noticed that failures of executives joining new organizations are rarely due to lack of technical ability or business acumen. New leaders fail because they can’t implement change in their new work culture, don’t work effectively with peers, or fail to gain the trust of their organization. These realities hinder their ability to accomplish what they were hired to do.
Assigning a skilled coach during an executive new hire transition helps in accelerating understanding of how to best work in a new culture; coaches often serve as vital partners and facilitators for new leader assimilations. Such assimilations are designed to allow direct and indirect staff to collectively learn about their new boss and begin to understand what their new leader needs and expects. They also help leaders learn more about their teams.
A skilled executive coach helps leaders identify how they can use or amplify their strengths in the new organization and encourages them to listen to understand and learn early in the onboarding process. Coaches effectively partner with new executives to help them better understand the new environment and avoid derailing tendencies that may surface during stressful moments.
Using assessments (which may have been used in the hiring process), coaches help new leaders be more self-aware as they approach their new job, staff and other stakeholders. Coaches work with leaders to reflect on and improve how they can adapt their style, behavior or communication skills to address different stakeholders, all the while remaining authentic to who they are.
Coaches with strong organizational leadership or HR backgrounds can work with employers or new executives on strategic onboarding plans designed to get leaders up to speed quickly. Onboarding plans introduce leaders to key stakeholders with whom they will be interacting and set initial meeting schedules and goals, as well as think through desired 1:1 meetings where mutual success can be understood and achieved.
At times, executive coaches are called in to “fix” a derailing executive four to six months after a new leader has been hired and things are heading south. By then it may be too late. Careers can be put back on track if the leader is open to accepting feedback and coaching, willing to learn, and able to try new behaviors to succeed in the new organization’s culture.
As a coach, I’ve helped executives better understand how to succeed in their new work environment when things initially appeared to be off the rails. Conversely, I’ve been assigned as a coach when a new hire asked for one as part of his onboarding process. In the latter situation, the person had been coached years earlier and recognized the value of partnering with a coach to quickly learn how to best succeed in a new industry and culture where he would be working remotely. Both the employer and employee valued this successful onboarding strategy. My advice is don’t wait: engage with an executive coach at the start of a new leader’s employment in your organization.
If you wonder how coaching new leaders can reduce costs, consider that recruiting costs vary anywhere from 20 percent of first year base salary to 33 percent of first year total cash compensation, depending on use of contingency or retained search. At VP and C-Suite levels, this can be a range of anywhere from $50K to $300K. An approximate 50 percent chance of repeating this scenario and re-incurring the associated expense in 18 months, along with the related staff turnover and lost opportunity costs of an unsuccessful hire, substantiates the ROI for coaching.
How can coaching help in onboarding your new executive hire to achieve success in your organization?
Lance Hazzard, CPCC, ACC, is a certified Intelligent Leadership Executive Coach helping people and organizations successfully achieve what’s next. He is Executive Coach and President at Oppnå® Executive & Achievement Coaching. Lance and Eric T. Hicks, Ph.D., co-authored the book, Accelerating Leadership, published in June 2019 and now also available as an e-book. More information can be found on the book, Lance and Oppnå® Coaching at the links below: