Most organizations commit significant resources to identifying, qualifying, and selecting executive talent, but few devote as much time to “on-boarding”—the process to transition a qualified candidate to a productive employee.

Research consistently shows that on-boarding, which happens during the first six to nine months in a new position, is of immeasurable importance to a new executive.  Beyond the standard initial training and integration, a commitment to providing coaching, support, and guidance within the first year (and beyond) is often cited as a key ingredient in the ultimate and continued success of an executive.

Executive candidates typically experience each hiring step—recruitment, assessment, and on-boarding—as a continuous process.  But in many companies, each department or function is focused on its own responsibilities and not necessarily the overall process. Coordinating a seamless flow among the company’s distinct functions of recruiting, assessing, and on-boarding is critical.  Likewise, having a post-initiation development and support plan increases the likelihood that an executive will ultimately be successful with the organization.

The recruiting process offers an important first opportunity to gather valuable information about the candidate.  It is important to seek candidates whose values are in sync with the existing team and the business.  Candidly share information with them about the company’s strategic plan, values, culture, and philosophy to set the stage for what they can expect.

Using assessment tools beyond the standard interview format can provide a company with valuable information about candidates.   We see companies using everything from an online personality type predictor to a fully validated assessment tool vetted and interpreted by industrial psychologists.  These tools can offer tremendous insight into a candidate’s skills, character traits, and competencies.

Not only is information gathered during the assessment process helpful in determining which candidate to hire, but it also can—and should—be used for the development of the on-boarding process.  We have seen organizations create the outline for individual development plans, support matrices, performance targets, annual reviews, and incentive compensation plans based on content gathered during the assessment process.  This approach typically lends itself to greater long-term success in employee engagement as well as employee productivity.

Learning the skills, talents, and perspectives of an executive through the entire recruitment process—from the first contact to the first year and beyond—is critical to that executive’s ultimate success with your organization.  The complete hiring and integration process requires an institutional commitment at all levels that, if executed correctly and consistently, will yield tremendous long-term benefits.  By integrating your recruiting, assessment, and on-boarding processes, and using the data gathered to create a plan and support structure for your new executives, your organization can significantly impact the success of your new hires and, ultimately, realize a greater return on your investment in talent.

Adam Berman can be reached at Email or 215.441.4600.