Integration is key to getting immediate value from a new executive hire. The best “onboarding” programs I’ve seen include an effective and efficient education on how things really work at a company: how decisions are made, who is involved, and what motivates those individuals? But if you wait until the executive starts to integrate, you’re too late.
My assertion is that talent integration (preboarding and then onboarding) should be part of the recruiting process, and not a secondary step initiated after the hire.
Although companies strive to be well run, the reality is most fall short in one area or another. That’s OK as long as a new executive understands what Ben Horowitz calls the “organizational boundaries and broken processes,” and has a proven process for working through and/or removing those boundaries and obstacles.
Those obstacles may include the “informal network” — a network of social relationships and individuals with unique skills and knowledge that influence how work gets done outside the formal org chart and processes.
“The first thing a manager can do [to speed up productivity] is ensure that the new hire understands how important the informal or ‘shadow’ organization is in getting things done,” says Michael Watkins, author of The First 90 Days, quoted in a recent Harvard Business Review blog post about getting immediate value from new hires.
“Helping new hires understand the informal side of the organization will accelerate their acclimation,” the HBR article explains. “As soon as [the individual] starts — or even before — introduce her to the right people.”
The article also recommends giving the employee “real work” (as opposed to readings or trainings). True, but it’s not just about putting someone to work, it’s about positioning them to deliver value.
If you inform the recruiting process with the unique dynamics of people, decision-making, influences, and expectations within an organization, you can then assess candidates against these insights. This unique candidate assessment architecture is essential to kick-starting the integration process as early as possible. And with powerful results: you increase the probability your new executive will be prepared to deliver real value on day one.