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Here are the remaining two of the six strategies borrowed from executive onboarding that you can implement immediately to quickly build organizational knowledge and key relationships and deliver timely feedback to adjust and avoid negative turnover.

As a quick review, part 1 in this 3-part series focused on two onboarding strategies for new hires: 1) making a personal connection by helping them feel like the organization is expecting them, and 2) regulating the amount of information they get. In part 2 we explored two more strategies: 1) focus on building relationships, and 2) create early wins.

Strategy #5: Deliver Early Feedback
Feedback is typically the missing ingredient in an impactful onboarding experience. All new hires need to understand how they are doing and unfortunately, many don’t get the timely feedback they need and deserve.

Integrate these formal feedback components into your current onboarding experience for all new hires. This builds trust and transparency as well as skills for managers and HR partners to have these critical conversations that could literally “save” someone.

  • Feedback should be early and often.
  • Formal feedback is critical at the 45–60-day mark.
  • Both the new hire and manager can ask for feedback.
  • Make the feedback “generationally appropriate.”

The current workforce is now the one with the most diverse demographics in history. Organizations can use this “cheat sheet” to

The current workforce is now the one with the most diverse demographics in history. Organizations can use this “cheat sheet” to remember how each generation prefers to be given feedback:

Boomers generally view feedback to ensure growth and development. They value clear, direct feedback and tend to take criticism very seriously. Baby Boomers also appreciate feedback that is well-researched and backed up by evidence.

Gen Xers see feedback as an opportunity to improve and develop professionally. They prefer feedback that is goal-oriented and results-driven. Gen Xers also value feedback that is honest and open, and they prefer to receive it in a private setting.

Millennials view feedback as a way to build trust and understanding. They tend to be open to constructive criticism, and they appreciate feedback that is solution-oriented. Millennials also value feedback that is timely and consistent.

Gen Z views feedback as a form of collaboration with their colleagues and supervisors. They prefer feedback that is direct and actionable. Gen Zers also appreciate feedback that is tailored to their individual needs and goals.
Source: Hello Leaders Feb 2023

Lastly, an organization’s culture can literally make or break a new hire’s success. If they are not open to feedback and don’t agree or align with the values and behaviors, onboarding, and integration are at risk. One of the many benefits of a formal, structured onboarding experience is that both the new hire and the organization will have early indicators during onboarding that can be reinforced (keep doing that, it’s great!) or curtailed (stop doing that, it’s not good!).

Strategy #6: Don’t Underestimate Culture.
Here are a few things to remember and talk with your new hires about to make sure they are “getting” your culture:

  • Culture eats strategy for breakfast – technically strong, experienced new hires can struggle with the “how” of an organization.  Make sure you are actively discussing how things are done as well as “what” needs to be done.
  • Most new hires fail due to a lack of alignment with the culture and not because of skills.
  • Share the “unwritten rules” of success:
    • What are the non-negotiables?
    • What is the language?
    • How are decisions made?
    • Where are the power bases?
    • How do you influence without direct authority?
  • Create a Cultural Roadmap – describe desired behaviors, rules of engagement, and how to get things done in your organization.


Impact on the Organization
In a nutshell, the impact on your organization is significant if your new hires feel as important and as valued as the CEO.

Here are the ways that the new hires benefit:
Connectedness to the purpose/mission of the org
• Clear sight to contributions to that mission
• Feeling of being valued
• Ownership
• Increased discretionary effort
• Increased engagement
Pride in work/workplace
• Higher productivity
• Increased creativity/innovation

As you can see, the business Case for Effective Onboarding is clear, and the secrets for success can be found inside the senior leadership onboarding best practices.

Drop us a note to share your success stories or challenges of your new hire experience. We would appreciate the opportunity to share our methods and help you supercharge your onboarding experience!

If you missed part 1 of this 3 part series, click here.

If you missed part 2 of this 3 part series, click here.



Part 1 in this 3-part series focused on two onboarding strategies for new hires: 1) making a personal connection by helping them feel like the organization is expecting them, and 2) regulating the amount of information they get. In part 2 we focus on two more of the six strategies borrowed from executive onboarding that your new hires will immediately benefit from.

Strategy #3: Focus on building relationships
No person is completely independent or “on an island” if they are working for any organization these days. Strong relationships are the key to a successful onboarding experience and sustained work performance, as every engagement survey report will show.  Start with your new hires as if they were as important to your success as the CEO would be. Think practically and strategically when selecting the people with whom they should meet and when.  We typically focus on this area for new senior leaders, but too often, we slip into all tactical activities for other employees.

Try these strategies to boost your relationship-building for new hires:

  • Consider all the stakeholders the new hire will rely on based on the role.
  • The manager is critical in helping the new hire identify and cultivate the right relationships.
  • Create a calendar of “meet-and-greet” meetings based on the onboarding objectives.
  • Build a strategy to connect with each stakeholder.
  • Spend time talking about key relationships with the new hire and how they impact their role, personal and organizational objectives, and success.
  • Solicit feedback about the new hire about these relationships and how they are forming.

All these strategies are “free” and only require a little bit of planning and collaboration with other functions to ensure that your new hires meet and connect with their key partners and internal customers.

Strategy #4: Create Early Wins
Early Wins are one of the best-kept secrets in a robust onboarding experience–maybe because it seems obvious, or maybe because we think of them as “job duties” and haven’t framed them as anything else. Senior leaders understand the power and impact of making some key contributions early to gain confidence, trust, and momentum within the organization.

Use these strategies to begin creating Early Wins during the onboarding process:

  • Identify 5-6 initiatives or projects that the new hire can do to demonstrate progress against bigger goals.
  • Support these with the resources needed.
  • Help the manager articulate expectations for each Early Win and track progress.
  • Establish a timeline for each Early Win and how it supports the overall goal.
  • Use the onboarding meetings to talk about any barriers and/or successes.

This “trick” can also be leveraged for every one of your new hires with a simple conversation and a worksheet.  When we used this strategy with a client, the new hire gained better clarity about what the organization needed from her and was able to execute a few of those things in the first ninety days or so. As a result, the new hire felt increasingly more confident about her decision to join the company.  Win, win, win!

Stats show that new hires are deciding as to whether they will stay or leave a new role during the first six months, so using Early Wins can help cement both the new hire’s decision to stay and give the organization indicators as to how they are doing against a formal plan.

Read about the next two strategies in part 3 of this series. If you missed part 1 of this 3 part series, click here.


Connect the Dots Managing Director, Brenda Hampel, has been invited to participate in the 2024 US Digital Universities conference hosted in collaboration with Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri in May.

Digital Universities US was introduced in 2021 as part of our Digital Universities series. These agenda-setting events have enabled us to build a growing global community of thought leaders working at the intersection of academic innovation and technology.

Co-created in partnership with Inside Higher Ed, sessions at Digital Universities US are curated by our editorial team – which includes Doug Lederman, co-founder, and Colleen Flaherty, senior editor at Inside Higher Ed – to ensure we cover the latest topics in digital transformation within higher education.



Onboard new hires like a CEO? What would an “executive onboarding experience” look like and how could it impact your new hires’ engagement levels? Per Gallup, 88% of employees don’t think their current organization is good at onboarding and 76% of HR professionals don’t think they are doing a good job at onboarding employees. Robust onboarding addresses organizational challenges–attracting top talent, increasing engagement, boosting productivity, and reducing high turnover.

Here are six strategies borrowed from executive onboarding that you can implement immediately to quickly build organizational knowledge and key relationships and deliver timely feedback to adjust and avoid negative turnover.

Employees at all levels are dissatisfied with their onboarding experiences, and the cost of replacing them has never been higher; however, there are some “bright spots” of best practices that tend to show up for the highest-level leaders, like CEOs.

 Audrey Jarre, Head of Learning at 306Learning, put it plainly:

“A mere 12% of employees agree their organization does a good job of onboarding new employees. What’s more, if your organization isn’t among the ones that get onboarding right, it’s likely your new hires will be hunting for new jobs before you can say pro-ba-tion.”

We are not suggesting that all components of senior leader onboarding translate to the rest of the population, but here are some scalable strategies.

Strategy #1: Make it personal.

No CEO or senior leader would appreciate a generic onboarding experience, so why put your new hires through one?  Try one or all of the following to make your new hires feel welcomed and expected:

  • Create customized and personal welcome messages from the hiring manager, recruiter, and colleagues.
    • Use videos, texts, social media, and emails to connect 1:1.
  • Gifts, ”swag”,  or treats are low-cost and still appreciated!
  • Invitations to lunch, coffee, or dinner can really cement a new hire’s decision to join your organization.
  • The workspace, computer, email address, or bios on the internal directory are also places where new hires’ experience can be personalized.
  • Always leverage any organizational assessments and find fun ways to have new hires and current team members share their profiles (i.e., CliftonStrengths, DiSC, MBTI, etc.).


We worked with a client to create a virtual tour of their offices narrated by the CEO so that the new hires would have some familiarity with the environment before Day One. The video was on the new hire onboarding portal that we helped them create.  The “tour” was a fun, unexpected extra feature added to what the new hires need to know in the pre-start phase of onboarding; and some new hires watched it several times, even sharing it with friends and family members. The portal also allowed the manager to add a personal welcome message which she simply recorded from her phone and uploaded to the site. These personal touches helped the organization’s employment brand stand out and kept new hires engaged and excited before they ever walked into the building.

 Strategy #2: Don’t use a firehose approach.

Too often, new hires are inundated with tasks, training, and meetings in the first weeks which makes it difficult for them to really absorb the knowledge they need.  They forget who they met with during the first week and can miss key onboarding information if it is not clear how it is attached to their roles.

Use these tips to combat the “firehose” approach:

  • Create a relevant briefing packet.
    • Leverage articles, presentations, and internal communications that have been created or shared since the new hire accepted the job.
  • Collaborate with the hiring manager and HR partner to create realistic onboarding objectives and a customized action plan.
  • Schedule onboarding meetings with the manager and HR partner for at least six months.
  • Provide access to systems and training close to the time when the new hire will use them.
  • Communicate to the team/organization the purpose of the new hire’s role and expectations.
  • Do not schedule all the “meet and greets” in the first month.


Our client, Mark, benefitted from this approach when we helped his manager and HR partner build a realistic onboarding plan with “meet-and-greet” meetings that supported his plan’s objectives and timing.

An example was that he met 1:1 with other functional heads who helped him understand how the company measures success, how they make decisions, and how long he was “allowed to be new” in this organization.

Cultural learning during the first weeks on the job is priceless and this approach avoids early burn-out and costly missteps.  If new hires are bombarded early with meetings, presentations, and deliverables, they can often miss the most important onboarding lessons.

This is Part 1 of 3 installments of our series, “Onboard Like a CEO: 6 Strategies from the Corner Office that Will Engage and Develop Your New Hires. Read about the next two strategies in an upcoming issue.

Coaching, Teams


It’s wishful thinking to imagine difficult conversations will never arise in the workplace. As inevitable as it is uncomfortable, you’ll likely have to initiate a challenging conversation with a colleague sooner or later. Whether dealing with differing opinions, navigating sensitive topics, or addressing conflict, finding the right way to approach this tough task will help you improve the likelihood of a successful outcome.

When Are Challenging Conversations Necessary?

As much as you may try to avoid getting stuck in a difficult conversation, many issues within the workplace will not dissipate if they’re not addressed. Still, simply ignoring the problem at hand is the way that 53% of employees choose to handle a “toxic” situation. Only 24% of employees would choose to address the situation directly. Avoiding a challenging conversation can prolong the problem, lower team morale, and hurt business productivity.

For context, let’s imagine a scenario warranting a difficult workplace conversation. You and a colleague may share responsibilities–whether that’s managing client communication, handling administrative tasks, or producing certain deliverables–but you find them delegating tasks to you. Maybe they’ve started to hand off client onboarding, report generation, or other tasks they also should be managing. As your workload increases, finding the right way to discuss this imbalance with your colleague can help you remedy the situation and come to a mutually agreeable resolution. Without the right communication skills, you could be among the 49.7% of individuals who don’t report a positive outcome, such as increased stress levels, resentment towards your colleague, or lowered performance as you struggle to get all the tasks done.

Preparing For a Successful Conversation

Challenging conversations are difficult for a reason, but taking the time to prepare can help you effectively communicate your point of view without sounding accusatory or aggressive. Here are a few steps you can take to make the conversation productive and successful:

  1. Determine Your Talking Points: Start by jotting down the key points you’re looking to communicate with your colleague. This can help guide the conversation, but remember, you don’t need to prepare a script. While you can try to predict what your colleague might say, the real-life conversation may not go as planned. Instead, approach the conversation with a flexible mindset and have a variety of potential responses ready to go. This will help you maintain a forward momentum throughout the discussion.
  2. Focus On The Facts: Many workplace issues can stir negative feelings and strong emotions. While you want to convey to your colleague how the issue is affecting you, you’ll also want to focus on the facts of the situation. By focusing on the facts, you can help to separate what might be assumptions from the truth. Armed with facts, this can help you support your argument and avoid making the matter too personal.
  3. Seek Understanding Over Agreement: When dealing with some challenging situations, it can be difficult to see eye-to-eye. Many workplace conflicts stem from misunderstandings, so establishing a mutual understanding between two individuals can ensure you’re not missing out on vital information. During the conversation, ensure your colleague feels heard and has the chance to express their perspective as well.
  4. Work Together to Find a Solution: These conversations are not about who’s right and who’s wrong. If your conversation has been successful and productive, it should result in actionable steps you and your colleague can take together to resolve the issue. You can also seek to agree on a timeframe for a follow-up meeting to revisit the situation and ensure everyone is on the same page.


Difficult Conversations Pay Off

Even with the best preparation, tough conversations will never be fun. Still, they can have a significant, positive impact on colleagues and the larger organization. These benefits can include:

● Strengthening workplace relationships and fostering an environment of trust
● Clearing up misunderstandings or misconceptions
● Reducing workplace stress by de-escalating issues
● Improving productivity and collaboration by removing roadblocks
● Enhancing communication skills

Thus, individuals within an organization need to identify when there is an opportunity for them to address issues with a challenging conversation. Not only will they be able to seek a better outcome for themselves, but these colleagues can also drive valuable change within the organization.

For leaders who are unsure where to start tackling their team’s issues, Connect the Dots can help teams develop new tools to engage and be productive with their teammates.

Contact us to learn more about our team development and performance solutions.


Brenda was part of a panel discussion with Washington University colleagues Andrea Kressel, Cynthia Marich, and Philip Payne, Ph.D. The panel topic is: The great disconnection: What leaders in academic medicine need to know and do to engage and develop talent.

Click to view her presentation.


How Organizations Can Address Current Challenges and Anticipate the Next Ones

There is a trend according to recent Gallup data that employees are feeling more disconnected, underappreciated, and burned out.  The “false proverb” about work has been revealed and organizations must respond or face another round of turnover or quiet quitting.  We tackled this tough topic in our recent CHRO networking event. Following is a summary of our discussion.

Discussion Points

Discussion Themes from the data:

All our participants agreed that the data supports what we’re seeing.  And leaders don’t know how to respond or help their employees manage workloads and shifting priorities.  We continue to have to do more with less and help our leaders lead in this environment.

Burnout has always been present, but the causes are what is changing. Some managers are “frozen” and don’t know how to help burned-out employees, especially those who are new to people leading.

Engagement surveys bring a “thread” of unfair treatment that may or may not be what most organizations are experiencing.

Mental health has become the number one cost driver in health care for most organizations.

Many factors are contributing to the “broken workplace” including that people are quicker to change jobs, there are five generations in the workplace, and added societal and economic pressures.

 What is the role of the leader in employee’s well-being?

Leaders must play many roles – teacher, coach, parent, confidante and counselor.

Leaders are having conversations about “well-being.”  This is challenging because we have conditioned leaders to stay away from personal topics to avoid legal issues.

We must help leaders get back to basics and focus on the things that are important – reduce the noise!

Need additional support?

As your leaders continue to stretch themselves to navigate new and challenging dynamics, coaching support can help them do so more effectively. CTD’s on-target® and quickconnect® coaching models give you the flexibility to invest in targeted coaching at any level.

Effective onboarding is another tool for organizations who want to differentiate themselves as an employer. Check out our solutions for leadership and all-employee onboarding that provide a branded, customized experience for your new hires. We welcome the opportunity to talk with you about your specific leadership development needs and a custom solution. For more information and to learn about our full range of other services, please visit our website.



Erika will be a featured speaker at the Gulf Coast Symposium on HR Issues address the topic: Onboard Like a CEO: Strategies from the corner office to engage and develop your new hires


Onboard new hires like a CEO? What would an “executive experience” look like and how could it impact your new hires’ engagement levels? Per Gallup, 88% of employees don’t think their current organization is good at onboarding and 76% of HR don’t think they are doing a good job at onboarding employees. Robust onboarding addresses organizational challenges – attracting top talent, engagement, productivity, and high turnover . You’ll get six strategies “borrowed” from executive onboarding you can implement immediately, including how to quickly build organizational knowledge; build key relationships and deliver timely feedback to adjust and avoid negative turnover.



Brenda will be part of a panel discussion with Washington University colleagues Andrea Kressel, Cynthia Marich, and Philip Payne, Ph.D. The panel topic is: The great disconnection: What leaders in academic medicine need to know and do to engage and develop talent.


Recent years have served as an accelerator for organizations to transform traditional workplace norms to more holistically support today’s workforce. Organizations can no longer argue that productivity decreases in the hybrid setting. Skilled knowledge workers in a healthcare and academic setting are in demand; if they are not entrusted to personalize and adjust their workdays, they will go elsewhere. To manage effectively, Peter Drucker writes, “means to face up to the new realities. It means starting out with the question, ‘what is the world really like?’ rather than with assertions and assumptions that made sense only a few years ago.”

Learning objectives:

  • Define leadership traits and competencies needed for successfully managing today’s academic healthcare workforce, including managing ambiguity and instilling trust in colleagues and employees
  • Address gaps that exist in much of the academic health workforce to support professional development and career transitions
  • Provide current academic healthcare workforce data to support how to lead today’s knowledge workers
  • Discuss tools that align most effectively for a hybrid workforce

Our team-connect Survey Process


We start with thoughtfully diagnosing the team’s current culture by using available data, assessments and interviews.

This provides the team leader with a clear view of what is getting in the way of the team’s success.

We design a series of structured team sessions that:

  • Share the team culture analysis
  • Give team members the opportunity to talk through both processes and behaviors that need to be addressed
  • Productively provide feedback to one another
  • Develop both team and individual commitments that will lead to the team’s desired state


Measure progress by leveraging CTD’s team-connect Survey to:

  • Drive accountability and measure progress by collecting team feedback specific to one another’s engagement and behavioral change
  • Provide the team’s leader with a clear understanding of what he/she and the team need from each other to enable and support the team’s success
  • Share team and individual survey result reports