Do years of direct leadership experience and strong business acumen mean that newly-hired executives and high-level managers typically need less attention, training, feedback and encouragement during their first year in a new position?
No. Many top executives and business leaders recount their early days and months as frustrating, time-consuming and less than productive. During the past few years, organizational development experts have provided volumes of information and guidelines to effectively onboard new hires, particularly for newly-positioned leaders.
New hire failure is as costly on many levels as the loss of a valued long-term employee. These costs spike when it’s a failed executive hire.
Despite the fact that most major companies use onboarding techniques and acknowledge the value of assimilation, an internal study conducted in 2009 by Heidrick and Struggles showed about 40 percent of new executive hires and internal promotions do not succeed. Traditional initiatives built on the premise that organizational charts reflect work structures tend to employ exercises that fail to simulate actual work. They also fail to consider the importance of social networks and the pivotal outcomes that result from these connections.
New technology has emerged that overlays traditional survey and demographic indicators with metrics that reveal connectedness — a measure of social influence and organizational engagement. Pairing new executive hires with already connected mentors can significantly improve success rates for these placements and virtually eliminate the time it takes for high-level hires to become effective and well-regarded organizational leaders.
Organizational network analytics is an established branch of advanced workforce science and a human capital tech platform that uses vast amounts of existing and accessible organizational data — such as readily available e-traffic, social networking and survey analytics — to empower new data-driven initiatives. ONA identifies the well-regarded, engaged, enthusiastic mentors whose alliances can launch a new leader toward optimal social placement and immediate assimilation — a critical edge for incoming executives.
Get Executives on Board
This new technology approach addresses challenges in onboarding executives by determining which employees are the key stakeholders in the organization — the ones demonstrating connectivity and who have significant influence — and pairing them with a new leader. A new manager or high-level associate leverages this relationship to infiltrate the organization through introductions, bypassing the usual ramp-up time it takes to assimilate and create a leadership presence.
ONA also quantifies organization-wide social influences and networking hubs in other locations, connecting new hires with highly networked leaders on an international scale. Virtual team-building has become commonplace with increasingly mobile employees. Enterprise collaboration tools enable resource sharing between mentors and mentees; people, projects and teams are fair game, and the mobile agility of many global organizations can further hasten the onboarding process. When associates recognize the collective power of a new executive leader across regions and business lines, the value of that leader’s influence rises instantaneously.
ONA identifies influencers. Their social style and connections can be analyzed across an organization, revealing who they interact with, what work gets done and how. Resulting algorithms provide guidelines related to mentor/mentee alignment and an understanding of how these leaders can become effective mentors for new hires at all organizational levels. New leaders are able to inherit the credibility, trust and confidence requisite for success by close association with these valuable social connectors.
Using ONA to Onboard Leaders
Tactical, data-driven onboarding and mentor-pairing directly affect retention and reduce turnover costs associated with executive-level salaries and non-tangible costs such as impact on morale and lost momentum due to recurrent management restructuring. An organization has a vested interest in expediting onboarding and ensuring long-term retention of new leaders.
Network analysis identifies the mentors in an organization who can provide new executive hires with the connections and social standing to:
- Assimilate faster. Organizational impact is immediate with access to other effective individuals and their networks.
- Build alliances sooner. New leaders with alliances at all levels of the organization can meet goals by tapping into the individuals and teams with the right skills and know-how.
- Navigate and understand the social fabric of an organization. Social confidence comes with being able to negotiate with and infiltrate different networks and work groups.
- Quickly connect and gain trust with established teams. An ideal mentor will share the connections that come with being a well-integrated and energized operator over time.
- Build informal network structures. Understand how people interact on a daily basis and get work done. It may differ dramatically from more formal, hierarchical organizational structures.
New onboarding techniques take advantage of the most advanced technologies to identify where positive impact is made in these networks and by whom. Once these connections and activity hubs are mapped and analyzed using ONA techniques, an organization can discern who the best mentors and influencers are going to be for new executive hires and position them more effectively for success.
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