On the one hand, the fit risk for executives onboarding into new roles in the same organization is lower than for those coming in from the outside. But the risks of poor delivery and poor adjustment to changes down the road are still there. This is why all executives onboarding into new roles – externally or internally – need to craft their own personal 100-day action plans in advance to get a head start with their best current thinking – which will evolve over time.

Internal onboarding is different than external onboarding


  1. You can’t control the context – so prepare in advance and be ready to adjust as required. Understand the context (planned, unplanned or interim). Secure the resources and support you need. Go with the flow, regain control of the situation or jump into the dirty work as appropriate.
  2. It’s hard to make a clean break. You effectively go live in your new job as soon as you are announced, while still having to do your old job – so take control of your own message announcement cascade and transition. Secure your base, ensuring your “old” area’s ongoing success and recognizing the people who helped you along the way. Then use part of the time before you start to assess your predecessor’s legacy – what you’ll keep and change.
  3. There is no honeymoon – so, set direction and accelerate momentum as quickly as appropriate after the start. Evolve the stated and defacto strategies. Improve operations and strengthen your organization.




Understand the context and how much change is needed. Re-look at the culture to understand people’s openness to change. And look at the organization, role and personal risk. Then blend them together to determine how fast you need to converge into your new role before starting to evolve things.


Stakeholders. Identify your few most critical stakeholders up, across and down – internally and externally.

Message. Think through the platform for change, vision and call to action to help you land on your headline message and top three communication points.

Before “Day One”

Personal set up. Deal with any family or office logistics.

Jump-start learning. Gather and digest technical, cultural and political information. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you know. Things change.

Announcement Cascade. Fill in plan for whom should find about your transition when, keeping in mind that those emotionally impacted should find out one-on-one ahead of others, and those directly impacted should find out in a small group so they can ask questions before the larger group indirectly impacted finds out in a mass communication.

Day One/Early Days

Plan out specific actions for day one and early days. Who meet with? When? What forum? What signals to send/how to reinforce message? Consider a broad welcome session, a New Leader’s Assimilation session, putting your message into action, live meetings and site visits as well as phone and video calls.

Tactical Capacity Building Blocks

Burning Imperative. Ideally this will be in place and agreed by all before you start. If at all possible, accept and acknowledge the direction the team is headed. That will calm everyone down.

If necessary, reboot the imperative – likely with a workshop to co-create and commit together leading to a revised action plan. Use consultative approach if you do not have confidence in your team.

Milestones are the heart of your action plans – what’s getting done by whom, when, with what resources. Again, first prize is to go with the milestones that are already in place, evolving things as they go. If there is no process in place, put it in place.

Early Wins. Your team must deliver these by end of your first six months in your new role. First prize here is taking one action already underway and adding resources to deliver it faster.

Role Sort. First prize here is to make decisions about and changes to your team either before you start or with your start. You can do this when onboarding internally. It’s harder for those coming in from the outside.

Communication. Then, follow through with ongoing communication, change management and adjustments.

This 100-day plan tool for internal onboarding can help you work through the details – available for free download at www.primegenesis/tools.com.

Click here for a list of my Forbes articles (of which this is #766) and a summary of my book on executive onboarding: The New Leader’s 100-Day Action Plan.

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