Now that the term “onboarding” is clearly a part of the business vernacular, most organizations are doing a much better job than they ever have of preparing new hires for their new role and new environment.

In keeping with the philosophy “the best gift you can give an employee is a great boss”, I’ve also observed that organizations have made improvements in equipping hiring managers to support their new direct reports.

So, the relationship of the new hire with the organization and the relationship with the new boss are being addressed in Onboarding programs. But lately I’ve noticed a third relationship being added to the list in organizations that are truly interested in staying ahead of the “onboarding best practices” curve. This relationship is the one between the new hire and his team.

I recently presented at an Onboarding conference where organizations in the financial services and healthcare sectors both mentioned the importance of peers and direct reports in supporting the Onboarding process. There’s nothing wildly new about this in and of itself. The best Onboarding programs have always included meetings with peers to ensure that the new hire builds these key relationships early in. And one-on-one meetings with direct reports plus full team meetings are also critical in the initial weeks after a new leader is hired.

What IS new, however, is the shift in perspective around accountability. The new hire’s direct team is now being positioned as having shared accountability for the success of their new peer or new boss.

For example, CEO’s and heads of HR are spending time with Leadership Teams preparing them to help ramp-up a new member of the Team with the explicit message, “You are ALL accountable for the success of your new colleague”. In some environments, performance measures are even built-in to ensure that colleagues pay attention to extending a hand to their new peer. In these companies, sharing resources and information is a desired behavior and the message from the top is clear, “if the new man or woman doesn’t make it…we all share collective responsibility for this outcome”. Such a message raises the stakes big time!

Instead of the typical “crossing-of-arms-across-the-chest” stance, collaboration is stronger and preparation gets underway before the new peer joins the team.

• What should she know to be successful around here?
• What land mines should be pointed out?
• What’s the most efficient way of bringing him up to speed without creating overwhelm?

This accountability shift gets even more interesting when we focus on the new hire’s direct reports. What could be the difference in the behavior of employees who are coached that “setting your new boss up for success is an expected part of your job”? Yes, of course, the new boss still needs to earn trust, respect and credibility, but imagine the possibilities of adopting the perspective that “everyone in the team is essentially onboarding to this changed team, so let’s all take ownership for how well it goes”.

For me in my work as an Onboarding Coach…having the opportunity to support the SYSTEM, not just the new hire, dramatically enhances the success of the assignment.

I’d love to hear your ideas of how your organization prepares “the system” or the direct team for the new hire. Where does their accountability lie for the new hire’s success?