Onboarding: Where obvious meets oblivious

The most important outcome of an onboarding conversation is the alignment of expectations beyond the job description.

Recruiting, hiring, and promoting are extensive processes for a midlevel or senior executive or for a newly recruited board member. Getting the person in the door is quite an accomplishment in itself. Unfortunately, a false sense of completion can lead to outcomes that are significantly different from the initial hope for success in the recruitment process.

The process and pace of productive onboarding moves the new hire or board member faster through the honeymoon period into the real action and authentic leadership and value contribution that are needed and expected. Unfortunately, onboarding often consists solely of new-employee orientation, a tour of the office for a new board member, or speedy introductions to staff.

A systemic and systematic onboarding process adds multiple positive possibilities.

The newcomer has the opportunity to understand how his or her background of experience aligns with the background of reality currently existing in the team or board. Often, both parties, the newcomer and the existing team/board, have preconceived ideas about communication channels, process flows, and coordination and collaboration. Sometimes we take for that granted what is obvious to us may not be so obvious to others and is actually completely oblivious.

Background of Obvious = Background of Oblivious

The depth of information uncovered during the recruitment process is important for understanding how to effectively onboard. What was discovered about the newcomer’s emotional intelligence? Was a personal mastery assessment used to understand competence in decision-making, analytical problem-solving, communication, futuristic thinking, goal orientation, and more? How does the person move into conversation for action? Do the interpersonal skills showcased in the interview represent the true nature of the individual?

A simple approach for effective onboarding is to design a plan that includes the critical roles and people, the flow of information, the most critical strategic and business initiatives, and a process for updates and check-ins. For years, we have used a model to guide the thought process of onboarding that reveals what true success is, potential land mines, adaptive communication, and how time is spent during the first 90 days and beyond. The most important outcome of an onboarding conversation is the alignment of expectations and knowledge on where perspectives need to shift in order to be in a mutual commitment for success.


Time is a gift of onboarding. If you missed implementing an in-depth process with a newcomer, then do it now. A re-onboarding process is viable for long-tenured employees and board members because positive change happens in the conversation. If the conversation does not happen, then positive change takes longer and is more difficult. A generative conversation opens and shifts perspectives for all stakeholders and brings forward what is oblivious and needs to be obvious.

The endgame is the embodiment of success for all.


Deedee Myers

Deedee Myers

Deedee Myers is founder and CEO of DDJ Myers, Ltd. and co-founder of the Advancing Leadership Institute. For the past 20 years, she has been passionate about establishing and developing ... Web: www.ddjmyers.com Details