Failure to integrate newly hired executives and employees at all levels can be costly and contribute to missed targets – OR – can be the secret to success! We will explore some proven techniques and I will leave you with a checklist guide which you can use and modify for use at your company.

Onboarding Graphic
Photo by Dreamstime

There are many approaches I have experienced bringing new employees, executives and sales personnel into companies. I have been both the recipient and the implementor and want to share my experiences. One thing I can almost guarantee is that no onboarding plan will contribute to failure, wasted time and wages, and disruption no company wants to experience. Earlier in my career in more junior positions, onboarding was simply orientation where human resources (HR) took your picture, issued your badge, completed all your tax and employment forms, and in an hour or two you were escorted to your new boss and were assigned your cubicle or whatever the office environment was.

My first experience with a comprehensive onboarding plan was at Rockwell International, where after the basic HR work was done, I was given a 10 page document of tasks that included already set meetings on my calendar with key groups and leaders I will be dealing with. It was a well organized and thought out plan to ensure I would know who the key players were, where they sat, who was responsible for what and set me up for success.

To be truthful, I did not think too much of it at the time, but over the years as I hired many people and learned that many companies do not have a process beyond minimal HR, or orientation. It became clear to me that onboarding is a critical success factor when new hires joined the team.

Different Methodologies

There are several processes to choose from as a baseline. They include (1) First 100 Days, (2) 30-60-90 Day Plan, (3) Checklist of tasks, not time-bound, and (4) free-for-all. Some companies use multiple methods depending on the role. For example, marketing, product management, operations, finance, and engineering are commonly onboarded with 30-60-90 day plans which then become rolling 30-60-90 day commitments (or SMART Goals, scorecards, KPIs, or OKRs) and plans. Sales personnel may have a 100-day plan or a 3-month/6-month/12-month plan depending on typical sales cycles and the amount of sales training required before cutting the new hire loose and placed on their commission plans! There are many sources to find templates, best practices, and guides, but I will provide a checklist with tasks, a combinatiion from above, here that you can use as a guide and customize for your use. Note it starts with the offer letter, which is pre-start date.

Pre-start date YesNoNot RequiredComments/Names
Offer LetterXHR and Hiring Manager
Order Laptop/PC/Tools, and software licenses (OS, Office suite)XHiring Manager and IT
Arrange Office Space, if neededXFacilities
Background CheckXHR
Drug ScreeningXHR
Formal Notice to line managersXHiring Manager
Load/configure laptop/pcXIT
Email assignedXIT, HR
Order Business Cards, suppliesXHR or Group
Provide Go-to-people listXHiring Manager
License for “tool” seats (CRM, Dev tools, proj mgt, etc)XHiring Manager
HR PaperworkXHR
Arrange office access and After Hours AccessXHR, Hiring Manager
At Start DateYesNoNot RequiredComments/Names
Welcome speech, get to know you with CEO or Hiring ManagerXHiring Manager
Review Corporate Policies, welcome package – company specific, benefits, etc. (I9, Payroll, Non-Compete, Confidentiality Agreement, IT , handbook, Ethics, Dress Code, travel and anything else)XThis is the orientation with HR
Assign Mentor-Peer AuditorXSometimes a good idea to assign a “go-to” help person
The Vision and Culture Lunch with assigned ManagerXif possible, this is good if everyone is in the office, otherwise a video
Meet and greetXLive in the office or on video, meet as many people the new hire will be working with
Products/Services /roadmaps/process/DemosXWith specific product/service owners; this training depth depends on new hire role
ERP, CRM intro and trainingXAs applicable to role
Review Compensation PlanXAnswer any questions, if sales this may be more complex and discuss any bonus structure, profit sharing, etc
During the first 2 weeksYesNoNot RequiredComments/Names
Observation time with the teamXAttend meetings as necessary
Shadow related groups, teamsXAttend meetings as necessary
1-1’s scheduled with peers, stakeholders, as appropriate (set up by hiring manager)XThese should be at least one hour
Clarity between new hire and manager on deliverables, timelines, etc. XMake sure anything discussed during the interview process is clear and concise for measurable success
Schedule 30 day review with CEO or Hiring ManagerXAll goals, open items, questions, clarifications, etc to be discussed
At 30 and 60 DaysYesNoNot RequiredComments/Names
1:1 with Hiring Manager and possibly CEOXReview everything from 1st month;
Specific feedback on onboarding planX
Bi-directional feedback on experiences, work environment, goals, objectives, tools, etc.XHiring Manager
Review goals for next month, quarter, scorecard if used for specific deliverablesXHiring Manager
If Sales personnel, review training status, ensure enablement is on schedule and any account information is clearXHiring Manager
At 90 DaysYesNoNot RequiredComments/Names
1:1 Review with Hiring Manager and possibly CEOXHow did first quarter go? Some companies have a 90 day probationary period. This can be that review meeting.
Investment program paperworkXOften times, at 90 days, employees can begin their 401K programs
Evaluate progress vs. Plan, whats working vs. not working, and set next quarter goals and if onboarding and training continues.X
Checklist for Onboarding

I hope this provides a guideline you can use or integrate with your existing program to enhance your success with new hires at all levels. Every new hire is entitles to a comprehensive onboarding program that enables them to be successful.

At some companies, the CEO in their culture felt that senior level employees should just figure it out on their own. I understand their point, just don’t agree with it. Imagine saving and optimizing everyone’s time by laying out expectations and policies and introducing all the key stakeholders to the new hire. If training is involved for the new hire, it can be integrated to substantially increase success rates.


For new hires, even at the senior level, knowing where to go to find something, knowing who the subject matter experts are, and having clear expectations to eliminate surprises can make for a happy and successful relationship between new hire, company and the hiring manager!

The Rookie CEO, You Can’t Make This Stuff Up!

I invite you to read my book to learn more about how new CEOs will lead, how they can succeed, regardless of their backgrounds, philosophies, and leadership styles and how these affect the culture they will create as a new CEO or leader.

As a CEO, onboarding is a critical success factor in how your culture will emerge and if it’s collaborative or secretive and siloed. You will learn more in my book, a leading “short read” in multiple business categories on Amazon.

Thank you for visiting the CEO Insights blog, and I look forward to your return!