New Leader Onboarding: Stakeholder Interviews

An effective new leader onboarding process can greatly reduce the time it takes a new leader to get up to speed, improve teamwork, and improve retention.

Most organizations do a pretty decent job at the basics, i.e., a meeting with the boss, the team, and a few key stakeholders, directions to the rest room and cafeteria, etc….

Although, I’ve heard my share of horror stories, as I’m sure many of you have. One of my favorites was the newly hired executive that had to sit in a conference room for his first 30 days on the job waiting for his terminated predecessor to clear out of his office. Awwwkward.

Some organizations, with the help of HR, OD, or training will offer to facilitate a new leader integration meeting, where the new leader gets together with the new team and discusses expectations of each other. If you’re a new leader, take advantage of the offer, or ask for help. It’s a great way to accelerate the team building and trust between a new leader and his/her team.

There’s one more piece of the new leader onboarding process I’d recommend, especially for newly hired or promoted executives: stakeholder interviews.

Like all good processes, it’s simple, yet effective:

Someone from HR, OD, or training works with the new leader’s manager and the new leader to identify a list of key stakeholders the new leader is going to need to work with to ensure success.

The “interviewer” then has meetings with each key stakeholder and asks the following questions (or make up your own):

1. What are your expectations and primary focuses of this role?

2. What land mines, sensitive situations exist that (the new leader) should be aware of?

3. If we had to prioritize (the new leader’s) focus according to timelines, what should (the new leader) focus on first in 30 Days, then 90 Days and in 6 Months?

4. What relationships must (the new leader) develop (both internal & external) to ensure the success of their role?

5. How would you describe the culture that (the new leader) will be working in? Where do you see the gaps?

6. What will be the key measures of (the new leader’s) success in this role?

7. What concerns do you have regarding (the new leader) taking on this role?

8. What advice would you give (the new leader) to ensure there’s a successful transition?

9. How will you support (the new leader)?

The interviewer then produces a confidential report for the new leader to help in their transition. It’s like a secret decoder ring for success as a new leader!

Are there any other questions you’d want to ask a new leader’s stakeholders?