There are common mistakes made in executive transitions and onboarding that I see come up over and over again, both in my experience coaching executives and in research on executive transitions.  These mistakes are made by the hiring manger, the executive themselves, and the organization. Learn how to prevent these mistakes in executive transition.

Mistakes made by the hiring manager or board in executive transitions

1. Letting the executive new to role figure out onboarding, transition, and integration on their own

They are smart and capable executives after all. Perhaps the sink or swim approach is the usual way at your organization or what you’ve experienced taking on new roles, but this is the not best way to retain executives and accelerate their impact. Learn about the various roles and support needed in executive onboarding.

2. Tasking the executive new to role with creating their own onboarding and transition plan

They simply don’t know what they don’t know and are not experts on onboarding and transition best practices.  Executive’s new to role need guidance on strategic and cultural level onboarding and integration approaches.  Executives should own coming up with detailed 90 day and 6-month plans, but the overall approach to onboarding and navigating the culture should come from an onboarding program and their hiring manager. Find the tools, plans, and templates needed for executive onboarding and transition here.

Mistakes made by the organization in executive transitions

1. Setting expectations for action and implementation too quickly 

Leaders need time to get input, learn, and build trust before they will be successful in leading any change. At least 30 days is recommended.

2. Not providing a structured and strategic onboarding process or program

Structured and strategic onboarding programs like this one makes onboarding efficient and effective resulting in quicker integration into their role and faster execution based on the proper foundation of knowledge.

3. Not providing an executive transition coach to guide the executive’s focus and development during the transition

Learn why a coach is important.

4. Not creating clear expectations of the role

Unclear expectations set all parties up for miscommunication and wasted effort. It’s not fair or efficient to to create a situation where the executive is trying to hit a nonexistent target. When they don’t hit a target that hasn’t been defined, it’s creates wasted energy and engagement. “Unstated expectations are rarely met, and if they are, it’s an accident.” Wayne Woodson

5. Not providing guidance on who the most critical stakeholders are and how to navigate them

Giving the new exec a leg up on who is most important to their work and giving them insight into how to navigate these individuals and groups can cut transition time in half.

6. Not providing feedback on the executive’s performance or transition progress at several key points during transition

Early feedback is the best way to correct small and large missteps and to prevent them in the first place. Anyone in a new role needs to know how they are on or off track. This doesn’t change at the executive level.

Learn more about what organizations can do to prevent executive transition mistakes

8 steps to onboarding an executive

Best practices for supporting exec transition success

Avenue to Executive Transition Success Program

Mistakes made by the executive in executive transitions

There are common mistakes or pitfalls when onboarding or transition at the executive level. This video covers them and describes how to prevent them. They are also listed below.

Common pitfalls

  • Not taking enough time to read the politics and culture
  • Implementing too fast
  • Not creating a shared vision
  • Not staying at the highest strategic level of the role
  • Difficulty adjusting to being constantly evaluated and receiving distorted information
  • Not creating partnerships through relationships and trust
  • Allowing expectations to remain unclear
  • Suffering with Imposter Syndrome
  • Not setting healthy personal boundaries from the start

Key phrases to avoid

Last, there are also some key phrases that new executives use that rub people the wrong way and create an unfavorable first impression that is difficult to overcome. Learn what they are and what to say instead in this video.

Learn more about causes and solutions of executive transition failure

Causes of exec transition failure

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