understand personality in the workplace

Onboarding or Integrating Executives? How to do it Right

Does your organization have an onboarding process for new hires? Do you remember to afford  your new executives the same privilege.

While the job you foresee for an executive is different from that of most new hires, these new folks  are just as unfamiliar with your organization as the trainees.  In 2015 Snapchat lost eight  senior executives with only one lasting past the eight-month mark.  While turnover among leadership is not unusual for a startup, it does raise a red flag that something isn’t working.

In “Onboarding Isn’t Enough”, which appeared in the June 2017 edition of the Harvard Business Review, Byford, Watkins & Triantogiannis suggest you focus on  integration  rather than onboarding. Integration advocates a more aspirational goal – doing what it takes to make the new leader a fully functioning… or excelling member of the team as quickly and smoothly as possible. Whether you call it onboarding or integration, the fact remains that if you do it right, executives can start driving their businesses forward significantly faster, building momentum rather than making unnecessary mistakes.

Here are 10 best practices you can implement to ensure new executives feel at home quickly and have full impact in their new roles:  

1. Be honest and up front

There’s no sense in telling white lies to potential new executives, they are smart so they’ll soon see that their ‘full team” is wildly understaffed, or their ‘large client portfolio’ is one difficult client no-one else wants.  As you narrow down your selection at interview stage, thoroughly explain the good, the bad, and the ugly and you’ll both save time, enable the right executive to choose you and get off to a great start.

2.  Start before they do

To ensure as smooth and quick a transition as possible, start your onboarding process as soon as your offer is accepted.  Go beyond the necessary benefits paperwork and security forms, provide bios and resumes of direct reports, develop a website or briefing with all the key information about the organization, locations, acronyms, payroll calendar.

3.  Make it personal

Take the time to set them up right, a workspace, stationery, business cards.  You don’t want your new executive wasting time creating their email address and tracking down a laptop, have it all ready to go on day one.  Obtain items with the company logo or brand to give on the first day as welcome gifts – a nice touch to say we are glad you are here and a part of the team.

4.  Generate the introductions

Arrange for your new executives to meet upper management, senior members of their new teams, and employees as soon as you can. Pre-populate the executive’s calendar with essential activities and training. How about writing an announcement for an in-house publication to note their arrival?

5. Set out your stall

Meet and ensure job roles and responsibilities are clearly communicated. Provide a fact sheet on the “hot issues” that will require attention within the first 90 days and set performance objectives. Give a quick introduction to HR policies and rules (financial “dos and don’ts”, acquisitions, hiring, firing).

6. Feed the soul

Did we mention lunch? Lunch out is a terrific way to build the relationship and answer any of their questions.  Bring in others from senior management to be more inclusive, not everyone is comfortable under the spotlight.

7. Talk about culture

While the new hire needs to understand  the work they’ll be  dealing with, they also need to understand  the organization: its history, what makes it tick, its successes, and failures. Pencil in time to discuss your organization’s culture.

8. Assign a mentor

Being  an executive can be a lonely job.  As busy as everyone is, find someone who can quickly address early confusing issues. Even if they’re not in the office every day, hopefully, they’re still reachable via phone or email.  Questions about “normal protocol”, finding the right people to go to for information, correct procedures, and learning what is “right” and “wrong”. Be sure the mentor knows his or her responsibilities. Provide a checklist if possible.

9. Time is everything

When you’re onboarding an executive, you can keep it concise.  They were hired to run departments, after all; they don’t need to be coddled.

 10. Congratulate yourself on a great hire

You hired the best, so you’ll know they came prepared too.  At Peoplescape we not only provide clients with an onboarding checklist for the first 30-60-90 days, we tell candidates their career is too important to leave up to others. We make sure they own their success and come prepared.

What’s next? Read this article to find out how you now retain your top talent.