Onboarding Success: The Team’s Accountability


Even with a pandemic and remote work, most organizations are doing a much better job than they did years ago, of preparing new hires for their new role and 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.

But lately I’ve also noticed smart organizations paying closer attention to the relationship between the new leader and her/his team.

The importance of peers and direct reports in supporting the Onboarding process is not wildly new in and of itself. The best Onboarding programs have always included one-on-ones with peers and direct reports, plus full team meetings, 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 team is now being positioned as having shared accountability for the success of their new peer or new boss.

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 your new colleague 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 a leadership coach, often tasked with supporting the success of the team, not just the new leader, this dramatically enhances the outcomes 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?

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