Leveraging Personality in Onboarding

Personality in Onboarding

We’ve all experienced that feeling of excitement and energy on the first day of a new job. The feeling that emerges after walking through those doors is almost entirely dependent on the organization and its selection and onboarding processes. Many resources from Hogan discuss the importance of selecting the right candidates, including a variety of case studies from clients who have successfully implemented our assessments in their selection processes. But onboarding, while tremendously important, is often overlooked as a factor in the success of new hires.

The Case for Onboarding

K. Kellogg, the founder of Kellogg’s, once said, “I’ll invest my money in my people.” Without people, no organization can function. Over the years, we have seen case studies and data that clearly demonstrate when organizations treat their people poorly it leads to negative outcomes, such as lack of engagement, lower productivity, increased turnover, and poor organizational performance. From the moment they walk through your doors as new employees, it is imperative to invest in and support your people to avoid these negative outcomes. This is especially true in our current environment, where virtual work and decreased interaction between new hires and peers are commonplace.

According to Leadership IQ, a leadership consulting company, 46% of new hires leave within the first 18 months of beginning a new job.1 Click Boarding, an onboarding software company, found that organizations that have standard onboarding practices have 50% greater new hire retention.2 Finally, Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report found that only 12% of respondents believe that their organization does a good job with onboarding.3 It goes to show that the onboarding processes of most organizations have room to improve. Furthermore, improving the onboarding process is likely to have positive results for the organization’s culture and overall performance.

The Role of Personality in Onboarding

Many organizations have formal onboarding plans of various lengths that include a variety of paperwork, performance check-ins, training, and socialization. Some of these plans are as short as 90 days, and other plans last upwards of 18 months following the employee’s start date. So what differentiates a 90-day plan from an 18-month plan?

Longer, more comprehensive onboarding plans tend to have a more thought-out approach to employee development. These plans tend to involve more check-ins, coaching, and formal mentorship. This is where insights from personality assessment can play a critical role.

When using Hogan for development we always look at a person’s assessment results through the lens of his or her current role and future career goals. Getting this context helps us understand the individual and guides current and future development conversations. Starting these development conversations early in the employee’s tenure at the organization is beneficial, as it demonstrates that the organization is prioritizing the employee’s personal growth, which can lead to increased engagement and retention. These conversations also give new employees direction on the characteristics they should be leveraging, while also helping them be mindful of behaviors that could impede their success and potentially damage their reputation in those critical first days and weeks.

If you use Hogan to help with your selection process, you can easily generate a series of reports, such as the Leadership Forecast Series, and use this to help guide onboarding coaching conversations. As a certified Hogan user, we would recommend focusing on the following:

  • Alignment with the job role – Why did you hire this individual, and what characteristics do you want to see him or her leveraging in this new position?
  • Possible challenges – What aspects of personality could get this employee off-course? What parts of this person’s personality might not be well received by his or her new peers?
  • Leadership style and the type of team environment – What are the things that this employee will likely find rewarding in his or her new role? What types of tasks and projects will he or she likely invest a lot of energy and passion in?
  • Stress management skills – Starting a new position can be challenging, so how is this stress likely to manifest in the new environment. How are others likely to perceive it?

Ultimately these coaching sessions should lead to the creation of a formal development or onboarding plan with developmental goals outlined and check-in points clearly stated for accountability. For example, if networking and connecting with others could be a challenge for an individual as they start a new role, build in a development action that involves creating stakeholder maps and a plan for interaction with critical individuals in the employee’s network. As always, we recommend the employee share the development plan with his or her leader, so they can have conversations about development throughout the onboarding process.

In addition to providing the new employee with an individual development plan, these coaching conversations allow the employee a confidential space to discuss challenges and frustrations they might experience in a new environment. This kind of support may be most helpful coming from an internal advocate or sometimes an external coach. The Hogan Coaching Network is ready to help with any onboarding coaching needs your organization might have.

Closing Thoughts

There are many ways in which Hogan data can be used to guide onboarding. In addition to what we have addressed here, you can also leverage Hogan data to understand the dynamics of a new team, pair new hires with mentors, and understand interpersonal dynamics between a new hire and leader. At Hogan we understand the critical role people play in the success of an organization. We know that investing in your organization means investing in your people, so we encourage you to leverage Hogan assessments in your onboarding process.


  1. Schawbel, D. (2012, Jan. 23). Hire for Attitude. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/danschawbel/2012/01/23/89-of-new-hires-fail-because-of-their-attitude/#254d8cc1137a
  2. Click Boarding. (2015, Dec. 3). The 3 Best Ways to Retain Job Hoppers. https://www.clickboarding.com/the-3-best-ways-to-retain-job-hoppers/
  3. (2017). State of the American Workplace. https://www.gallup.com/workplace/238085/state-american-workplace-report-2017.aspx