On-RampThe actions a new executive takes during the first 90 days of their new assignment essentially determines their long-term success in the job. Make the right calls, and you’ll succeed. Make the wrong calls, and you’ll be updating your resume in no time.

Unfortunately, 64% of new executives fail to deliver the results they were hired for.

In most cases, this failure can be traced back to poor onboarding.

To succeed in a C-level transition, you must successfully complete five critical tasks.

  • First, you must correctly assess the situation. This sounds easy, but many an executive has kicked into their default management style, only to find that it was inappropriate for the situation. Often, the real situation is very different from what was described during the interview process. There are hidden problems and potholes. There are disgruntled employees, defecting customers, and determined competitors. Your most urgent problem will likely be something you never expected – and you better identify it, and fast.
  • Second, you must correctly set expectations with your superiors. Manage up. How does your boss define success? Exactly what must you accomplish in order to retain their confidence? Many senior executives don’t confront performance issues well, and it is very easy to assume that “silence means consent.” This is a dangerous assumption, so be aggressive in requesting feedback. In addition, most likely, your appointment was not a unanimous decision, and if you don’t manage expectations, some will turn on you.
  • Third, you must quickly assess your people and make decisions about the team. You need to build bridges, form alliances, eliminate under-performers, and terminate under-miners. Some will cheer your arrival and sign up right away.  Others will declare loyalty but stab you in the back. A few members of the team were probably considered for your job, but were passed over and may have some residual resentment. You must quickly decide who is on your team and build from there. 
  • Fourth, you must perform at least one miracle. Jesus turned water into wine to establish His credibility and earn the allegiance of His followers. Likewise, you must deliver results to earn the allegiance of yours. People form opinions about their new boss very quickly. They’ll be looking to see if you are the real deal.
  • Finally, you must be extremely clear. Clear about the strategy, clear about your values, clear about your expectations, and clear about the challenges ahead. Your employees are nervous. They are worried about their jobs and status in the organization. They know things will change, but are afraid of coming out on the short end. Clarity is the anecdote for anxiety. 

Accomplish these five things, and your chances for success go up exponentially. 

The SHIFTPOINTS On-Ramp Program is a structured, 90-day engagement that covers the critical elements of executive transitions. It is designed to address these five issues and help new C-level executives get off to a fast start.


The SHIFTPOINTS Strategy Coach will conduct ten one-on-one sessions with the executive to discuss key transition issues:

  1. The Rear View Mirror – How did we get here?
  2. Leadership Inventory – What is your dominant style?
  3. Managing Up – What is your boss’ dominant style?
  4. Situation Analysis – What is the real situation?
  5. Company Analysis – How can you join the team?
  6. Results Expectations – Exactly what must be accomplished?
  7. Performance Assessment – How is your team performing now?
  8. Staff Assessment – Do you have the team required?
  9. Peer Assessment – Who are your allies?
  10. Decision Rights  What are you empowered to decide?

While nothing can guarantee that an executive will succeed in a new role, The On-Ramp Program ensures that all of the critical transition issues are discussed. The SHIFTPOINTS Strategy Coach provides coaching, accountability, and a safe place to discuss sensitive issues.

Dave Ramos