Top tips for executive onboarding

Top tips for executive onboarding

Diane Coolican

By Diane Coolican –

The first six months of a new senior appointment are crucial to the success of the manager and the wider business. Senior appointees are required to make an impact and deliver results while still learning the culture and process of the company. The value of implementing measures to fully integrate the new recruit into the company cannot be underestimated.

Despite an increased awareness of the concept of executive onboarding over the past few years, leadership turnover continues to be a problem for big companies, with 40% of new leaders failing in the first 18 months and positive onboarding experiences reported for less than a third of executives worldwide.

Here are some top tips for companies to ensure that new executives are supported and the first six months turn into future success…

• Create a bespoke plan. Does your company have the same orientation material churned out to every new employee, regardless of career experience, role or department? Work with the business leaders to create something that is bespoke and targeted to the needs of the individual. Identify the image and impact they need to create before joining and make sure the programme matches this.

• Align the programme to the company strategy. Typical programmes are often haphazard and disconnected from the company’s larger strategy. What are your business objectives? Ensure that both long and short-terms goals are part of the onboarding programme.

• Pre-empt the first day. Make sure that you have provided relevant and useful material for the new recruit before they even walk through the door on the first day– start to talk to them about your organisational culture, their role and immediate objectives.

• Cultural engagement is extremely important for a smooth transition. Ensure that they understand your culture and explain your organisational history so they have an understanding of what’s happened previously, enabling them to manage change and initiatives to fit with their new culture. Your culture underpins the behaviours, attitudes, relationships, values and your environment so consider all of these in your communication.

“It’s the way we do things round here…”

• Feedback, Feedback, Feedback. By giving regular and structured feedback throughout the onboarding process you can ensure that the executive can anticipate obstacles and develop solutions quickly. It will help them understand the expectations of their team, peers and senior management. Regular feedback on what’s gone well and not so well will increase the levels of productivity from the first few weeks.

• Manage the transition. You should appreciate their own emotional change journey and help them manage their energy and resilience levels in these important first few months. An executive coach, buddy or mentor is useful to ensure they feel supported.

Diane Coolican is managing director at Red Sky Learning.

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