Successful onboarding requires preparation, delivery and follow through on everyones part.  But then again, this is true of most meaningful endeavors.


The fundamental messages out of both our books (The New Leader’s 100-Day Action Plan and Onboarding) come down to: get a head start, manage the messages, and inspire and enable others.  These begin with getting a head start.  Football coach Vince Lombardi put it well: The will to win is not nearly so important as the will to prepare to win. Everyone wants onboarding to go well.  The key is wanting is badly enough to get a head start and prepare.


Everything communicates 24/7 all ways forever.  Yet communication is magnified on day one.  Everyone is watching everything the new leader or new employee says and does, looking for clues about what he or she is really going to be like.  This is why it’s so important to manage the message – all the time, but especially on day one.


Pick your cliche: run through tape, finish your swing, roll three times. I think it was Thomas Edison that said something like So many people fail because they quit just before they were going to be successful. In any case, onboarding is much more than day one.  New employees need help for an extended period of time.  The only thing new leaders can do completely by themselves is fail.  Any success requires them to inspire and enable others.  Ron Thomas has some good thoughts on onboarding vs. orientation in his recent posting on HR Comments:

Net: whether your shorthand is preparation-delivery-follow through or get a head start, manage the messages, inspire and enable others, successful onboarding requires the management of all the stages of onboarding from new employee acquisition through accommodation, assimilation and acceleration.

George Bradt – PrimeGenesis Executive Onboarding