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Strategies for onboarding midcareer leaders

June 7, 2016
Borderless Leadership

Many executives who endured boredom and less-than-attractive circumstances on the job during the Great Recession are now looking to make a move.

Some hold back because of their fear of change, but for those who are ready to move on, the impact of change in work identity is not without excitement and challenge. That’s why onboarding for midcareer senior leaders is a make-it-or-break-it proposition. Consider the following executives’ strategies.

Daniel Sonsino, vice president of human resources at Grocery Outlet, has a four-part playbook for successful onboarding, his top four in his first four months: learn the business; build relationships; design an HR strategy with business leaders; and determine if the existing team can execute the new direction.

Robin LaChapelle, vice president of human resources at AstraZeneca’s MedImmune division and U.S. HR country lead, has a playbook that includes thinking about HR as industryless and figuring out how to gain influence. Her top three navigation strategies include: satisfy oneself early about team talent; figure out what matters strategically, then figure out the centers of control; and frame midcareer expectations to hit the ground running. “You have to be productive much faster, it is expected from an experienced hire,” she said.

Four steps is a good number for an onboarding process. Break it down further as “3, 6, 10, 12” months. This method prevents premature actions, allows for frequent checks and balances as well as rapid assimilation and decision-making. Months 1 to 3 are “Getting Acquainted.” Months 4 to 6 are about “Assessing Changes.” Months 6 to 10 are about lining up change plans, not making any sudden moves until the 10th month. Start cautiously at Month 10 to implement change. At 12 months, make the biggest changes.

Louise Korver is managing partner for Global Executive Development Partners.

Source: Chief Learning Officer

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