Properly Onboarding Executives

Hiring a new executive is a time consuming process. Their impact on an organization is significant both from a financial and cultural point of view. So you do everything you can during the hiring process to ensure you hire the right person, from reference checks and assessments to meeting with other team members and role playing scenarios. Yet, they didn’t make it to their one-year anniversary. How could this happen? Well you may have identified the right person, but did you properly onboard your new executive?

The cost to the company of an executive that doesn’t work out can be in the seven figures, and the negative effects can be felt for years. With the talent shortage we’re currently facing, it’s a candidate’s market. And executives are looking for more than a larger paycheck. If they are going to make a move, they are looking for personal growth and intellectual challenges. The decision to make a move has become a personal investment for many executives.

They aren’t taking a move lightly, and neither should you. You can easily highlight the best of the company during the interview process since you’re in control of what they see and who they speak with. Once they are part of the team, they will quickly see if you were hiding aspects of the role or the organization. A solid onboarding program begins during the interview process.

If you want to increase your chances of success in not only hiring but retaining a great new executive hire, you need to be transparent throughout. The only way they are going to get a good picture of the company, the situation they are inheriting, and the culture they are being invited into is if you deal with them honestly and openly. If the warts you’ve shared with them scare them off, it’s better to find out early in the process, and not after they have started. This may add some time to the search process, but it will save you money in the long run.

At Sheer Velocity, our proprietary Executive Integration is led by expert and veteran executive search recruiter, Michael Burroughs. He is the author of Before Onboarding: How to Integrate New Leaders for Quick and Sustained Results.

Michael and his team will begin as soon as an offer is accepted, and work with you throughout their first 90 days. Prior to their start date, we meet with and interview your new hire’s boss (or board), peers, and direct reports. Insights from these extensive interviews are compiled into a custom Blueprint for Success and provided to the new executive who will also be debriefed by us. On their first day, your new leader will hold a team kick-off meeting. Follow-up meetings with their boss (or board) will take place at 30, 60 and 90-day intervals, to ensure close alignment and achievement of their Blueprint for Success.

As you can see, we are firm believers in integrating a new executive before AND after they start in a new role. We also work with you to address six areas that derail new executives as identified by the Corporate Leadership Council.

1. Failure to establish key connections and partnerships
2. Lack of political savvy or support to effectively navigate through the organization
3. Failure to establish cultural fit
4. Confusion about role expectations
5. Lack of feedback and coaching
6. Ineffective people management/team building skills

Below are four tips to get you thinking about what you’re doing today and how you could improve your onboarding experience.

Create A Formal Plan

This step creates a formal framework to provide consistency and lay the groundwork for iterating the process in the future. It can be broken out into 30, 60, and 90-day goals or simply a 100 day plan. It should include key milestones, deliverables, and success measures.

Align Them With A Mentor

You’re never too big to work with a mentor. The opportunity to partner with someone you can ask difficult questions and get honest responses is key to adjusting to a new environment. A mentor provides a new hire a trusted ear, support, and confidentiality as they learn the ropes. The relationship benefits both people and the mentor is also able to see the organization through a new perspective.

Get Them Involved

Per a recent HBR article, “C-level executives need to be immersed in business-critical areas of operation—they should be sitting in on important meetings to see how the company functions, taking part in discussions about parts of the company they don’t oversee, and be introduced to the parts of the business that are even peripherally connected to their own. They should also have a strong introduction to the company’s strategic plans. Where is your company going? How will it get there? What changes will need to be made? How will they be affected, and what’s expected of them?”

Make Them Visible

This is more than just working with their direct reports. As a new leader in the company, everyone is curious about who this person is and what they bring to the company. A great first step is to have them meet people through either a formal or informal meeting. It could be a lunch-and-learn style or a special “get to know…” meeting where employees can hear from the new hire directly and answer questions. The more quickly they are familiar to the company, the better equipped they are to implement their plan.

These tips are just the beginning. If you have questions about our Executive Integration approach, send us a note. We work with clients beyond the hiring process to ensure culture fit and a successful integration into the company.