New OPM guidance aims to help senior executives 'hit the ground running'

Tuesday - 10/18/2011, 11:52am EDT

John Palguta, vice president for policy, Partnership for Public Service

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By Jack Moore
Federal News Radio

Making sure new employees are fully integrated into an agency is important — especially when that new employee is the boss or a high-powered senior executive.

The Office of Personnel Management is rolling out a new one-year transition framework to help new executives transition better and faster through an "onboarding" process.

OPM's plan, called "Hit the Ground Running," includes checklists and goals for new high-level hires.

John Palguta, vice president for policy at the Partnership for Public Service, told the Federal Drive with Tom Temin and Amy Morris the onboarding model has been gaining traction across the government and for a variety of positions.

"Everybody can think back to a time when they started a new job and had a bad onboarding experience," Palguta said. "They showed up on the first day, the organization wasn't ready for them, they had a desk but nothing on it, IT had not gotten them a password and it was just a terrible experience."

But what's new about the latest efforts is the focus on senior executives — "they need onboarding as much as anybody else," Palguta said.

The process is more than just the perfunctory filling out of forms and learning where the bathrooms are, though, he said. It's a year-long process, and it can begin even before a new employee arrives for his or her first day.

The OPM report "explodes" the myths of both agencies and new executives, Palguta said.

If you're coming in as a senior executive, (others think) you're supposed to know everything," he said. And because they don't want to appear out of the loop, new executives often refrain from asking questions.

The No. 1 onboarding mistake for agencies is not being prepared, he said. Another step that is often overlooked is not taking the time to acclimate a new hire to the agency's culture and mission.

"The bottom line here is that an effective executive onboarding program can bring your key leaders up to speed faster, it increases engagement, it increases retention and it improves performance," Palguta said.