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For a new hospital Chief Executive, showing up without a 100-day action plan is simply not an option. It never really has been a good idea but in today’s uncertain conditions and challenging operating environment, not having a plan is a recipe for trouble.

first 100 daysA CEO’s First 100 Day Plan, critical to a new leader’s success is a concept popularized by George Bradt, Chairman of PrimeGenesis, and executive onboarding group he founded in 2002. Bradt believes, and I agree, that if a CEO shows up for a new job without a formal plan for his or her first 100 days, their chances for success are greatly reduced.

Information behind the recent stories of health system and hospital CEO turnover seem to reinforce this observation.

Now here is the wild card factor: many new CEOs are uncomfortable participating in an onboarding concept. Most search firms offer an onboarding option, at an additional cost, but it is not a significant contributor, revenue-wise. Why? According to a colleague with a large national search firm, many CEOs are so ego driven that they cannot imagine they need any help in this area.

The statistical data suggests otherwise. Across all business sectors, including healthcare, 40 percent of new executives are forced out, quit or are fired, within the first 18 months. The evidence supporting onboarding suggests that these programs, when properly structured, can enhance opportunities for long-term success. Given the exorbitant cost of a CEO mis-hire, long-term success has a nice sound to it. If you do not believe me, talk to boards in Houston, Louisville, and many other locales.

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A few search firms – a very few – are now including onboarding as part of their overall professional search fee. Of that group, fewer still offer 36-month placement guarantees. Apparently they see onboarding as risk management.

I see it as performance enhancement.

The question for executive recruiters is this: are you in the business to find qualified warm bodies, or is your real mission to ensure a client’s success?

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