Is all executive onboarding the same? It depends on who’s covering the cost.

Onboarding leaders is a well-established practice aimed at facilitating a smooth transition, while utilizing the leaders’ talents and strengths. Though there is consensus on its purpose, approaches can differ significantly based on who funds the process. Generally, there are three potential onboarding “sponsors”:

  1. the executive search firm
  2. the hiring organization
  3. the new leader themselves

Recently, Eti Katabi, partner at Kishurim HR – IESF Israel – interviewed three onboarding coaches hired by the “sponsors” above. In this article she summarized some of their important points below.

  1. “Steve is usually hired by executive search firms, which he says recognize the importance of professional onboarding in ensuring successful placements. His role is to ensure that both the hiring organization and the new leader are happy with the placement. However, he also acknowledges that some organizations can be suspicious of his role, as they are concerned about someone from outside coming in and getting into their business. Steve also talks about some of the common reasons why unsuccessful placements occur, such as role descriptions that are detached from the realities of the company, and new leaders who may not have done their full fact-checking during the interview process. He suggests that when such situations occur, adjustments can often be negotiated to rectify the situation.”
  2. “Kate usually works with the hiring organization, which often hire onboarding consultants in cases where CEOs or highly specialized leaders are flagged as having interpersonal issues or in situations where the organization has experienced a failed onboarding in the past. Kate’s work also involves slowing down new executives who want to demonstrate their abilities right away, as this can put the entire organization into alert mode. She also mentions the challenging onboarding of professional superstars, who need support in areas where they are weak. Her work involves building trust with the incoming leaders to encourage them to share everything. She achieves this by acknowledging that some suspicion is natural and ensuring them of complete confidentiality.”
  3. “Debra is often hired by the incoming leader themselves. She meets with clients at her office instead of their company premises to create a neutral environment that encourages open communication and exploration of possibilities. There, they can address fears, ego, and emotional baggage that leaders might bring with them to their new organizations. She also says that leaders often feel anxious about the expectations placed on them by the organization and themselves, which may lead to undesirable actions like shortening the onboarding process to prove their capabilities. This often results in leaders caving into pressure and providing answers based on their previous experiences, which might not be suitable for the new context. Debra also explained that shortening the onboarding process cuts short the time for new leaders to ask questions, explore, and learn, which is an opportunity that won’t return.”

In summary, Eti encountered three onboarding coaches highlighting the importance of a successful onboarding process for leaders. Despite seemingly similar goals, their strategies vary based on who is funding the onboarding. This presents dilemmas for both coaches and those hiring them, but the key is mutual willingness to address these issues to ensure successful onboarding.

About Eti Katabi

Profile photo of Etika KCo Founder and partner at Kishurim HR, developed the board executive consulting and has been leading it since 1990. Eti is holding a Philosophical approach, combined with a unique, innovative methodology. She has been working with managers – executives and board members, over the years, in order to help them develop their management skills. She believes that every manager has a hidden potential, which should be discovered and then developed by self-training and efforts. Every manager can improve his/her abilities by using internal sources and strengths. Once managers discover their potential, they can gain in autonomy and refine their management style with her guidance. Her approach and methods proved to be very fruitful in the past and helped many managers improve their managerial skills and performance along a very successful track record. See the articles on her blog: 




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