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Egon Zehnder and The First 90 Days Author Release Onboarding Effectiveness Assessment to Improve New Executive Integration

  • April 2017

Article published in Harvard Business Review shows “full integration” speeds time to executive success by 40 percent on average

NEW YORK, April 18, 2017 /PRNewswire/ – Effective onboarding can make or break an executive's success in a new role, yet an Egon Zehnder study of global HR executives and newly appointed leaders shows less than a third of organizations actively support their executives to adapt to the cultural and political climate – which rank as the top reasons new leaders fail.

With the likelihood of new executive success at risk in a competitive business environment that relies on swift leadership performance, Egon Zehnder partners Mark Byford and Lena Triantogiannis, along with Michael D. Watkins, author of The First 90 Days, chairman of Genesis Advisers and professor at IMD, have developed an Onboarding Effectiveness Assessment to improve new executive integration and streamline their ultimate success. In the paper “Onboarding Isn't Enough” published by the Harvard Business Review today (May/June2017 issue), the experts outline what executives must do to become effective in their new roles, and how organizations can accelerate the time to new executive success by as much as 40 percent.

“Too many businesses believe they are successfully bringing newly hired executives into the fold, when in reality they are simply covering administrative basics,” said Byford. “That level of onboarding is outdated and largely ignores the most challenging obstacles for new leaders – unfamiliar cultural norms and expectations. The consequences of improper onboarding include financial repercussions and talent retention issues. Organizations must focus on getting integration right upfront to ensure new leaders succeed in today's high-stakes environment.”

The Onboarding Effectiveness Assessment first helps organizations shift their mindset from basic onboarding to full integration, then assesses how well companies support leaders in new roles. This assessment is conducted by gauging how well a business supports an executive around five major tasks:

  • Assuming operational leadership: Ensuring a new executive is armed with the operational knowledge needed to act on immediate priorities and build a positive reputation.
  • Taking charge of the team: Sharing insights with new leaders about their team members´ performance to arm executives with the knowledge needed to make vital people decisions and gain trust.
  • Aligning with stakeholders: Understanding how decision-making works, who the influencers are and where sources of power are located so new leaders can gain broad support.
  • Engaging with the culture: Getting up to speed on the values, norms and guiding assumptions that define acceptable behavior in the new organization.
  • Defining strategic intent: Starting to shape strategy to clearly lay out the path ahead for the business.

Assessing how well a business supports an executive in these five major tasks, combined with understanding the spectrum of support provided across each task, is the core methodology of the Onboarding Effectiveness Assessment. The spectrum of support consists of four levels – Sink or Swim, Basic Orientation, Active Assimilation and Accelerated Integration – and these levels of support can vary across each of the five tasks.

“The intense pressure today's executives face is even worse for a new leader whose every move is scrutinized, and whose ability to drive near-term change is harshly judged by internal and external critics,” said Triantogiannis. “The success we've experienced implementing this model shows we can reduce the amount of time to reach full performance by an average of 40 percent. This extra time is crucial for new leaders, who will be able to make and implement critical decisions faster, and quickly gain stakeholder support.”

To read the full paper and access instructions and visual details on the Onboarding Effectiveness Assessment, please see the May/June 2017 issue of the Harvard Business Review:

About Egon Zehnder
Since 1964, Egon Zehnder has been at the forefront of defining great leadership in the face of changing economic conditions, emerging opportunities and evolving business goals. With more than 600 consultants in 64 offices and 36 countries around the globe, we work closely with public and private corporations, family-owned enterprises and nonprofit and government agencies to provide board advisory services, CEO and leadership succession planning, executive search and assessment, and leadership development. For more information visit and follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.

For media inquiries, please contact:

Egon Zehnder
Hilary Crnkovich
Global Head of Marketing and Communications
T: +1 312 260 8978

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