The Onboarding Process for Executives

A Complete Guide to the Onboarding Process for Executives

You’ve invested significant time and resources to find and hire the executive expected to deliver impactful results to your business. However, your work is not done when they show up on their first day –– in fact, some of your most important work is still to be done to help make them a successful hire. Unfortunately, too many companies do not understand this and many newly hired executives are not performing as expected.

One of the main contributors to this problem is the process by which they were hired and onboarded. If an organization does not have a refined and systematic process, it can be difficult to support its most vulnerable employees as they transition to their new roles.

Continue reading to learn about effective strategies you can put in place in your onboarding process to improve performance and increase retention of your key leaders. And, for an additional resource to assist you during this transition, download our whitepaper about assimilation services to provide new executives in your organization. 

The Typical Approach to Onboarding an Executive 

For many businesses, the onboarding process they have in place simply isn’t thorough enough to set new talent up for success. Some take a "sink or swim" approach, only offering new executives basic support, expecting them to handle the new changes on their own. While this approach is the easiest for employers, it increases the chances of your new hires feeling isolated, unhappy, and searching for a new job earlier than expected. 

Other organizations have a typical "onboarding" program that includes a basic orientation program that is used to familiarize the executive with the company. During this period, the new executive completes required documents and administrative arrangements, receives compliance training, is introduced to the team, and informed regarding any legal requirements and processes. While all are necessary tasks, they do not provide the support, clarity, or critical deliverables needed to ensure they hit the ground running during this critical integration period.

Here are six ways you can dive deeper and create a process that will increase the likelihood of a successful onboarding experience for your new executives.

6 Ways to Enhance Your Onboarding Process

1. Start during the Hiring Process

Onboarding a new executive does not begin on the first day, but rather during the initial stages of the hiring process. As this is likely the first experience they have with your company, it is important to create a positive impression. Not only will it impact their decision process when it comes time for an offer, but it will also shape their first experiences working for the company.

By looking at this phase as a part of your onboarding process, you can start to build trust and authentic relationships –– two factors that will play a critical role in attracting the new hire, having them commit to your team, and supporting you in the direction you are moving.

During the interviews and assessments that lead to your offer, showcase your unique company culture, along with the business strategies and models your organization incorporates into its work. This will ensure your new hire will share the same values as your organization and help it move in the same direction.

Learn More: Crafting an Engaging Candidate Profile

2. Define Success within the Role

Once you have signed on the new executive, it is crucial that you outline what high performance looks like for them at this company and what their 3-5 deliverables are during their first year ––  as well as key milestones. Ensure that this is communicated in such a way that focuses on their responsibilities and helps them to understand what this looks like in practice. Once clearly defined, and reviewed, they can begin diving deeper into the daily operations of your company and projects. Remember that during this first year, any assessments used to evaluate their success should only focus on the deliverables detailed at the beginning of their onboarding process.

3. Team Building Workshops

One of the most challenging aspects of employee turnover is the constant shift in team dynamics. For leadership positions, this can take a tremendous toll on the operations and performance of the departments affected. One way to improve the way recently hired executives interact with their team is by holding workshops:

  • New Leader Assimilations support the leader’s success by assisting with their transition into the organization and team as well as developing a full understanding of the key deliverables and objectives they will be expected to deliver. The new leader meets with their respective direct reports and other key stakeholders in a facilitated session that enables the new leader to quickly understand their questions and concerns as well as learn more about key challenges and opportunities facing the team. 
  • Team Building sessions strengthen team dynamics in situations where they wouldn't naturally interact. From outdoor activities to cooking classes or wine tastings, these workshops will help break the ice, allowing your new executives to meet and engage with their new colleagues.

4. Meetings with Stakeholders

To quickly get your new executives thinking in line with your company, hold meetings with key stakeholders. These meetings will not only allow for both parties to build a trusting relationship with each other but also provide insight into the organization, team, culture, and important strategic initiatives –– which are all crucial to effective integration.

5. Provide 360 Feedback

Throughout the initial onboarding period determined by your organization, it is important to allow your new executives to get hands-on experience working with their teams. By giving them these experiences, you can start to understand their ways of leading and help them understand the culture and nuances to help them successfully assimilate. 

A leader’s success is also dependent on timely and actionable feedback. One of the best tools in providing valuable feedback is a 360 assessment. After about four months in the new role, 360-degree feedback is gathered from appropriate respondents. The purpose is to provide the leader with early feedback on their progress in assimilating to their position and organizational culture. While preserving the confidentiality of the respondents, the new leader receives feedback on what is going well and, most importantly, opportunities to improve their fit and impact. 

6. Invest in Coaching

While it’s never too late to invest in coaching for your employees, starting during the onboarding process can prove beneficial to long-term retention. By starting them early, you can begin to identify areas that need further development, along with a way to support them during the initial transition period. Whether you choose peer, managerial or external coaching methods, your investment in their career success will go a long way for your business. 

Assimilation Services with Kinsley Sarn

At a time when turnover is affecting your business, having a well-defined onboarding process is vital for your organization’s progression. To learn even more about how you can refine your process, check out our white paper, Don’t Stop At “Hired: Why Transition Services are Critical for Candidate Success, where we detail additional ways you can support your new executive hires, and ensure a smooth transition into their new role. 

To get your free copy and learn more about how assimilation services can support your onboarding services, click on the button below. 

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