How to Successfully Onboard a New Executive

Ensure The Success of Your New Executive Through Onboarding

Leaders perform better when given the proper resources to assimilate into their new company. Therefore, it’s in the company’s best interest to create an onboarding process that will help new executives succeed in their roles. Companies typically assume a quick orientation is just as beneficial as onboarding. However, even a few weeks of orientation isn’t enough for an employee to do their job well. To create an exceptional onboarding process continue reading below.

Onboarding vs. Orientation

Contrary to popular belief, onboarding a new leader is not the same as an orientation. An onboarding program is a thorough assimilation period that significantly increases a new executive’s ability to be successful in their role and company. The orientation process is typically short, lasting a couple of days at most. It’s a quick way of getting forms completed, programs overviewed, IT equipment distributed and orientation to the offices.. While these steps are important for the company, a new executive needs to understand how to achieve success in their new role and the company’s culture. Unlike orientation, onboarding is a six to twelve month process that provides the new executive with clear understanding of deliverables, how to work within the culture, connections to a support network, and formal dates for feedback and development. Because of this, executive hires are able to clearly comprehend and perform job duties and begin creating positive relationships within the company.

Onboarding Reduces the Rate of Turnover

One of the greatest benefits of onboarding is that it’s proven to significantly reduce turnover rates. Unfortunately, 33 percent of new employees look for a new job within six months of being hired. On the other hand, studies show that it usually takes employees five to six months until they’re fully productive. Therefore, more than a third of employees look for a new position before they’ve become fully competent in their current role, creating a discrepancy. Further proving proper assimilation is the missing piece in the executive search process. Read the steps below to learn how to implement an onboarding process that will help your new executives thrive.

Step One: Get the Executive Excited and Engaged

To begin the onboarding process, both the hiring manager and the HR leader should separately reach out to the executive and welcome them personally. If you haven’t spoken with them since their last interview, taking a moment to chat before their first day is a great way to reconnect and ease any anxiety on their end. You may also take this time to ask them if there’s any additional resources they require to perform their job well, if it hasn't already been discussed, and send forms and documents that they can complete prior to day one.

Step Two: Start Slow the First Day

Executives will appreciate a light first day to get their feet wet and ease into their new environment. Have key members carve time to meet with their new colleague, setting it up as an informal discussion, simply to get to know each other. Fostering personal relationships will help them work better together and create a positive workplace culture.

Learn more: Read our blog post on the 9 ways to cultivate a positive workplace culture and its benefits on employees.

For example, Twitter’s first day includes a casual breakfast with their CEO and a lunch with the entire team. Interestingly, Twitter takes onboarding one step further by pre-assigning seating to prevent the new executive from feeling anxiety about where to sit. Above all, try to make the new executives' first day easy and enjoyable. This will set the tone for the rest of their time at your organization, so be sure to invest the time to make it meaningful.

Step Three: Identify Key Objectives and Timing

On the second or third day, go over the key objectives the executive will be responsible for delivering, the timeframe and how success will be measured. At this level it’s important they understand their responsibilities and decision-making capabilities from the start, so that lines aren’t crossed and there is no confusion about what they are to deliver. Although the executive probably has an incredible resume, don’t assume they will be able to deploy their skills immediately or effectively in their new position, especially when they do not yet understand how to operate or manage in your culture. As mentioned earlier, all new executives need time and proper onboarding to be fully efficient.

Step Four: Assign a Mentor

One major component of a successful onboarding process is mentorship. Having someone to show them the ropes will help the new executive adjust to the culture, and give them a deeper understanding of how things work within the company. Also assigning an HR leader to take on a similar ‘mentor’ role will provide deeper insight to the company. They will be able to give insight and guidance to company policies, schedules, proper workplace procedures, and so on.Having these two mentors will help the executive ease into their new position by allowing them to build relationships and a sense of community. Sadly, isolation is one of the top reasons new hires leave a job.

Step Five: Continue Onboarding

As the months continue, maintain open communication and transparency to ensure the success of the executive. After all, they are likely still adjusting, even if it might not seem like it. Once hired, provide continued feedback for a minimum of 120 days to ensure a good fit between both parties and that potential problems are addressed as soon as they are identified.You can do this through weekly informal discussions to check in and answer any concerns and/or questions while also conducting more formal feedback meetings monthly. It is also important that during all meetings that both parties provide feedback on the process thus far, as well as discuss next steps. We also recommend a 360 assessment within the first 4-5 months to gather broader feedback and to help the executive address any behavior or performance issues before they possibly become derailers. When the onboarding is successfully completed, you can rest assured your new executive has been fully assimilated into your company and their new role.

The Kinsley Sarn Approach to Onboarding

We understand recruiting is just the first step in hiring an excellent executive candidate, while proper onboarding is a close second. After spending time interviewing executive candidates, don’t set them up for failure by skipping the onboarding process. Creating an in-depth onboarding process will set your executive up for success in their new role.For a more comprehensive breakdown of what a successful onboarding process should look like, download our white paper, Don’t Stop At “Hired”! Transition Services Are Critical For Candidate Success, to learn more!

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