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In today’s healthcare economy that is the last thing a healthcare provider organization can afford, especially the kind of turnover that occurs when a newly hired executive or manager fails to make the cut because “they just didn’t seem to fit in.”

Hand writing Onboarding with blue marker on transparent wipe board isolated on white.

In other words, the long time practice of going through an exhaustive search and then plugging in a new employee and hoping for the best, especially in a complex organization like a community hospital, is an unnecessary risk.  Organizations that practice “being careful” in integrating new executives versus having a structured program are not any more successful, informal research suggests.

Forty percent of the executives who are promoted and change roles, or who join a new organization,  fail within the first 18 months, according to a study conducted by Fortune Magazine.   That dismal succession conversation rate  can be directly tied to an ineffective or nonexistent onboarding program.  In the Fortune analysis, 70 percent of the CMOs said they were disappointed by their onboarding experience.

First, lets define onboarding. It is not employee orientation.  In fact, orientation has been more accurately described as those session(s) where new employees go to learn how to be fired.  So, what is it?

Onboarding,  also known as organizational socialization, commonly refers to the “mechanism through which new employees acquire the necessary knowledge, skills, and behaviors to become effective organizational members and insiders.”  Properly structured, onboarding  accelerates a new executive’s performance while minimizing the risks of a potential misstep, one that could result in a press release that incorporates the dreaded language, he “left to pursue other interests” while hinting that he or she just “did not fit.”

A comprehensive onboarding program begins when a decision is made to recruit from outside the organization to fill an existing or newly created position, or promote from within.  In the latter case, promoting from within, should begin with the guidance of an enterprise-wide talent management plan.  In either case, it is all about sensible advanced planning.

This advanced planning should ensure that other team members are in agreement about the scope of responsibility, selection criteria and the definition of successful performance, as well as any hurdles to achieve success.  In short, role clarity.  This is a step that is overlooked in some organizations with potentially serious consequences. 

The onboarding process extends through the screening process  and then pre and post employment with coaching sessions to deal with a

target nailed to man's back

variety of relational and strategic challenges that are, frankly, common even in the best of organizations given the complexities and the unpredictability of human nature. 

Central to a good onboarding system is the mapping of KeyRelationshipIndicators© with critically timed feedback from key stakeholders as well as warning indicators and hazard avoidance. 

Onboarding should also include a trusted corporate navigator to help a newly hired or promoted executive understand that which is not readily apparent.

The constant focus is on making the executive successful — getting him or her up to speed as quickly as possible, maximizing full potential benefit to the organization.

For some, this kind of program is just an unnecessary expense but the cost of turnover is real and onboarding programs are a proven strategy to minimize that unnecessary expense, especially in a time of unprecedented change.