We’ve all experienced it and understand that new leader assimilation is never easy. According to a report from Egon Zehnder, more than 600 executives at the vice president level and above, almost 60% “reported that it took them six months or longer to have a full impact in their new roles, and close to 20% said it took more than nine months.” What’s more, “Less than a third said they had received any meaningful support for their transitions.” And this was before the pandemic shifted to remote processes.
Onboarding executives requires a different approach than when onboarding staff. Executives not only lead large teams, but they can also have a significant impact on the organization’s culture. Understanding this impact means a more thoughtful and patient assimilation process. Their success relies as much on the company during this phase as it does on their own abilities.
Company orientation is just the beginning, and whether it’s a few weeks or a few days, it’s not enough to set up an executive for success. The onboarding process should be at a minimum of 90 days, and in some companies, as much as six months or a year. They need to understand and see the company culture in action, have meetings with their team and peers to develop healthy working relationships and get a handle on the responsibilities and deliverables expected of them.
If this sounds like a lot of work, it’s far better to get it right than it is to have an executive hire leave in their first 18 months. The costs associated with a departing executive can reach seven figures when lost productivity and program setbacks are factored in. An effective executive onboarding program can dramatically reduce turnover rates.
According to the Training Industry, below are four excellent strategies to consider for your new leader assimilation.
Make sure you’re transparent
Just as you want to make sure you understand every aspect of the candidate, don’t hide problems within the company. If you want them to get off to a good start, you have to provide an accurate assessment of the situation.
Be clear on organizational values
During the interview process, you made sure to assess the candidate’s soft skills and culture fit. Now you need to ensure you describe the culture and core values to the newly hired executive. For example, “does the company value autonomy in its leadership team, or are decisions based on consensus?”
Introduce the executive prior to their first day
When bringing in a new executive, give them an opportunity to get to know the rest of the executive team prior to their first day. Whether in person or through video, once the decision has been agreed to, helping them meet others, one-on-one can help them hit the ground running.
Consider offering an executive coach
Knowing the process will take some time, one of the benefits that could be offered to new executives is executive coaching. This provides the new executive with an objective third party to help them with any difficulties they have during the assimilation process and develop their skill set.
If this sounds foreign to you, or your mindset for a good executive is that of sink or swim, it’s time to reevaluate your new leader assimilation process. A successful organization understands that new leaders, whether internally or externally hired, require a dedicated onboarding process that sets them up to succeed. One of our team members has recognized a huge gap with companies waiting for someone to come on board to start their onboarding process, so if you want to understand an excellent pre-boarding process that sets up your newly hired executive for success, please take a look here for additional information. Or if you have questions about your executive onboarding process or need help in your executive hiring process, let us know how one of our executive recruiters can help.