Success Coach

Do You Need a Success Coach for Your New Job?

Have you ever worked happily for a company for several years then made a job change that didn’t work out? A success coach would have helped you excel.

It’s common for recruiters to see this pattern on resumes:

  • 10+ years of progressive responsibility with one company.
  • One or two years with a second company.
  • One or two years with a third company.

When they see this, recruiters wonder if you know how to fit into a new culture. It makes them leery of advancing you as a candidate.

Get an Onboarding Success Coach

Facts are, you’re at high risk for derailing your career when you move from one company to another. This is because acculturation or assimilation can be tough. Smart people see the risk and hire success coaches to guide them through their first months on a new job.

If you don’t do this, you can fall victim to what recruiters call “tissue rejection,” shorthand for “S/he got fired because they couldn’t fit in.”

It’s real. Recent Korn Ferry research found that between 10% and 25% of new hires leave within six months. An earlier study by the Center for Creative Leadership found that 40% to 50% of new leaders fail within 18 months.

While those numbers aren’t all about fit, tissue rejection ruins many careers.

Acculturation vs Assimilation

When you hire a success coach, it’s good to know if you want to acculturate or assimilate.

If you’ve been hired to lead change, you will want to acculturate — which means adapting to enough aspects of the culture to be accepted — but not going native.

If you simply need to fit in, you will want to assimilate — which means adapting to the dominant culture — and not trying to lead change.

Knowing your goal will help you find the right success coach and design an effective strategy.

Success Coaching Examples

What might this type of coaching look like? Read on for three examples.

Success Coaching Example 1

Tim Toterhi, an ICF certified coach, and founder of Plotline Leadership in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, shared this story.


A client company hired Tim to coach their newly hired Chief Marketing Officer.

The Marketing team had experienced a leadership lapse during the CMO search. They didn’t have a clear vision, strategy, or deliverables, and were rapidly losing credibility with the firm’s executives.

Risk Assessment:

Tim coached the new CMO through a due diligence process to understand the situation and the expectations of her C-suite colleagues, team members, and other stakeholders.

She and Tim then looked at which of her skills would be useful and identified gaps where she would need to leverage her team or outside resources.

They also looked at potential derailers, in her case difficulty with small group communications.


Following the risk assessment, Tim and his client worked on her individual development, team development, and an approach to strategic and tactical planning.

The CMO:

  1. Led her team in creating and sharing a compelling vision, strategy, and plan.
  2. Translated the plan into individual goals and made assignments.
  3. Found and led some quick wins that helped her group re-establish credibility.


The CMO and her team earned enough trust to see their vision for a complete organizational rebrand supported in the C-suite and adopted. She was off to a running start.

Success Coaching Example 2

Rebecca Zucker, a Bay Area CTI certified coach and Partner at Next Step Partners, described a structured process she used to coach a new executive.


Rebecca’s client had been hired to lead a new function.

Risk Assessment:

Rebecca conducted 360-degree interviews with her client’s manager and other key stakeholders. The talks covered these topics:

  1. Her client’s perceived strengths thus far.
  2. Concerns thus far.
  3. How her client could best partner with each stakeholder.
  4. What her client’s top three priorities should be over the next six months.
  5. The first steps her client should take.
  6. What might get in her client’s way.


Rebecca and her client looked at the themes, identified two main goals, and created a detailed plan. They then went over the plan with her client’s manager (the coaching sponsor) and verified alignment.


The 360-degree process let Rebecca’s client understand her new company more completely and quickly than would have been possible if she had been on her own. As a result, she gained the full support of her manager and colleagues and successfully established the new function.

Success Coaching Example 3

David Ezell, a licensed clinician at Darien Wellness in Connecticut, specializes in male psychology and coaching and counseling C-level executives. He shared this story.


One of David’s clients had been successful in the music industry and wanted to change jobs to start representing recording artists.

Risk Assessment:

Because David had been working with his client for over a year, they both knew that the client tended to go to automatic thoughts/reactions in stressful situations.


David recommended an app that let his client quickly and discretely record the details of troubling situations and capture his automatic thoughts.

They then reviewed the thought records together, decided if his client’s reactions were appropriate, and, if not, constructed better responses.


David’s client had received some rough feedback after starting a consulting job. Their use of cognitive restructuring helped him overcome the first impression he had made and get a rep job offer — which he turned down.

Three months later he landed a rep job that was a better culture fit. He’s been there for almost two years.

Get a Success Coach — Don’t Onboard Yourself

As you can see, fitting into a new executive role in a new culture can be complicated in endless ways.

Whether your new company pays, or you do, consider hiring a success coach to help you make the best possible start in your new job.

Ask people you respect for referrals. Check to be sure the person you hire is a certified coach from a good program or a licensed counselor. You can see more helpful selection criteria here.

Working with a coach might well stop you from derailing your career and ending up with a resume that makes recruiters want to avoid you.

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Image: Fotolia/alphaspirit
Updated October 2018

© 2017 – 2020, Donna Svei. All rights reserved.

Comments 2

  1. I have seen this over and over. Sometimes its a job move after 20 years with a company (often because of layoffs). It’s very difficult to acculturate or assimilate into a new company culture when you’ve been in the same culture for such a long time. Your perspective, approach, beliefs, and behavior are deeply ingrained from your previous company.

    You are absolutely right, Donna Svei, that working with a Success Coach, Career Coach, or Leadership Coach can help a client identify the lense they are looking through, so that they can become more aware of the habits they’ve gotten into and the beliefs that govern their behavior and understand that they can look at this new company from multiple perspectives and they have choices in how they behave.

    A Coach can also help the client analyze the new company culture to ensure that they communicate and behave in ways that will help them fit it. And gives the client a place to practice (by role playing) new ways of communicating.

    Clients are also able to be more discerning about when to communicate differing opinions and new ways of doing things, so that they don’t over-communicate how their past company was better and cement themselves as an “outsider.” Clients learn that their differing perspectives and ideas should be used as a “seasoning” they choose strategically, not the “whole meal.”

    Our experience shows that professionals and leaders are much more likely to stay at the new job if they work with a Coach and, sometimes, when appropriate, more quickly realize the company is not a good fit, and take action to move on more quickly.

    Donna Schilder, MCC, Executive & Career Coach, & President: Glacier Point Solutions, Inc.

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