As we return to work, some of you may be facing the challenge of starting a new job, or at least a new or expanded role.

Psychologically many people seem to prefer starting new life challenges like this at major milestones, like the turning of the year.

Whether that is the case for you, or you’re in the equally challenging position of hiring a new starter, you know how vital it is to start well and make a positive impression.

Anxiety about this type of change has, of course, fuelled a whole industry of self-help books and management advice. Perhaps the most famous text on the subject is The First 90 Days” by Michael Watkins.

Although this can feel like a demanding and relentless standard to meet, the structure provided does discipline you to: set goals; network with stakeholders effectively; listen to your team; and determine actions to be taken (rather than getting trapped in overly lengthy strategy analysis-paralysis). So, I would recommend it as the classic text on the subject.

More support is needed during your First 90 Days

However, both from my own experience and from seeing too many new leaders struggle and fail to achieve what is expected, I believe more support is needed to ensure senior hires are successful. This is crucial not just for them, but also for the organisation and individual who hired them. With the high costs of recruitment & potential doubling of those costs if a replacement needs to be found, it is more important than ever to invest in helping your appointment succeed.

A recent article in Coaching at Work magazine, “Gainful Employment” by Pacifica Goddard, caught my eye as it looked into this very challenge. She quotes Lynne Hardman, CEO of Working Transitions who has found that despite 40% of new hires failing, over recent recessionary times the overall cost of recruitment has caused the number of organisations who offer comprehensive on-boarding programmes to have reduced.

Hartman notes that this is ironic given “The First 90 Days” cites research evidence that effective on boarding significantly reduces the likelihood of new hires leaving the organisation before their cost of recruitment is recouped.

New Job: The role of On-Boarding Coaching

Given the additional costs of hiring a senior Customer Insight leader can be anything from 50%-200% of annual salary, as we come out of recession more businesses are seriously looking at on-boarding strategies.

One growing solution, investigated in the Coaching at Work article, is On-Boarding Coaching.

The article notes that one of the greatest benefits articulated by clients of this type of coaching is it allows people in senior roles to get more comfortable with not having all the answers. It provides a safe environment for the expression of concerns or issues that would otherwise feel too vulnerable.

Such new hires also mention the benefit of  having time set aside in their busy schedules to look at the bigger picture (something I’ve heard before from my clients).

Top tips from the “Gainful Employment” article include:

  1. Arrange to first meet new hires prior to start date or induction;
  2. Plan to achieve goals of individual and the organisation;
  3. Identify ‘quick wins’ and support early actions to generate support and feedback;
  4. Feedback, to client, line manager & stakeholders – identifying next stages, goals & ongoing dialogue needed.

New Job: Coaching helping a wider set of leaders

The growing evidence that such interventions are helpful & cost-effective does not surprise me. What is of interest is a technique that had previously been reserved for the more senior directors is becoming more widely applied to empower strong early performance across key senior and middle management roles. So, this is of direct relevance for new Customer Insight leader hires.

Whilst speaking at industry events this year, I became aware of the scale of Talent Wars happening in the customer insight recruitment market at present.

Many companies are struggling to recruit even the analysts they need let alone their customer insight leader and are finding the need to pay more and take gambles on imperfect candidates to achieve their targets. Although this is a problem for the industry, it should also be an opportunity for coaches with a background in Customer Insight.

New Job: Finding a Mentor to help you

Laughlin Consultancy was set-up to enable businesses to maximise the value of their customer insight and to enable customer insight leaders to fulfil their potential.

In today’s market, it is finding more & more interest in the combination of both its executive coaching services and the provision of knowledge from years of experience fulfilling this specialist role.

Perhaps there is now an opportunity for recruiters or recruitment agencies to make use of the services of specialist agencies like Laughlin Consultancy to both educate less experienced new Customer Insight leaders and to provide them with effective on-boarding coaching.

It will be interesting to see how this fusion of niche technical expertise and coaching practice develops to meet the needs of all those companies. Those who need to ensure their new Customer Insight leader has a productive first 90 days.