Executive Onboarding: How to Approach the Process

Considerations for executive onboarding

Half of all senior outside hires fail within 18 months in a new position and the percentage increases to 64% when the new leader hasn’t worked within the particular industry prior to taking the job. It’s estimated that the financial cost of new executive turnover is three times their first year salary.

Onboarding talent is a challenge, from entry to executive level. While the stakes are always high when it comes to losing a new hire, the employee turnover of a manager is supremely detrimental. Not only does a leader oversee a great deal of tasks, they have a profound effect on the team they lead and culture of the organization as a whole. There isn’t anything as important as starting off on the right foot when integrating such a key player into a company. That’s why knowing how to approach onboarding a new executive correctly should be a top priority for your team.

Identify the leader’s goals

Before the new executive starts the position, there should be a clear role outlined, including all the goals he or she is expected to perform. This is a golden rule for all new hires. How can anyone be expected to perform to a standard they do not know exists? If the position existed prior to this new hire, the role should be fairly easy to define, but if the position is being created to fill a hole, there might need to be a little discussion with the new hire as they enter the field.

The focus should be to have a very clear expectation for the leader to build on and adapt for success. It might change as time moves forward and business need morphs, but baseline objectives build a foundation for all parts of the employment relationship.

Make an increment-based plan

Following the goals outlined, your team should build an onboarding plan for the executive. While one should exist, this is not meant to be organizational objectives, but should instead be focused on the personal goals of the leader. Plans that break down such development into a matter of weekly tasks and monthly deliverables leave no one guessing on what is coming down the pipeline. As for length, there are many estimations on how long it takes various levels of employees to reach full productivity with no definite expectation.

Just remember, the more difficult the position, the longer the expected time to proficiency. While that means there is no right length for how long the plan should extend, employees who participate in longer onboarding programs gain full proficiency 34% faster than those in shorter programs.

Be transparent on current processes

When hiring for a new leader, you probably expect a combination of process adoption and process advancement. Introducing a new executive might lead to an awkward combination, depending on how he or she views current approaches and how attached your team happens to be to them. Of course, if your company is unwilling to change on too many fronts, your new leader may feel stifled and powerless.

To avoid the power struggle, be upfront about all the tools and processes your organization is committed to continuing as well as the places you know could use some improvement. Work these into the incremental plan so they can be revisited periodically. Also discuss how to go about facilitating conversations and change when action needs to be taken.

Organize a welcoming committee

Hiring an executive into the organization from outside can introduce a great deal of innovation, but it also creates a predicament that hiring within does not: cultural representation. Obviously, culture is never solely in the hands of leadership, but those who represent the company as an executive are ringleaders in representing it as well as upholding the mission or values. Hiring externally means the new hire is learning so much more than processes and responsibility; they are also getting acclimated to the company personality and priorities.

Don’t assume a new executive will be above a welcome party or office-wide luncheon. It can be difficult to find an opportunity to introduce some executive positions to all employees, but those interactions are still so important. The leader needs the transitional guidance, but the employees who will work alongside or on their team will be dependent on the interactions that occur within the first few weeks and months.

Finding the right leader to join your executive team is a feat and one that calls for celebration. All the time and manpower that was put into recruiting and hiring a new executive will go to waste if the introduction and integration into your team doesn’t support their success. Building an onboarding process for executives will be the plan you and your new leader needs to push organizational boundaries.

Click is here as your consultant, and we’ll help you automate the process while you delight your executive new hires. When you’re ready to focus on people and let the process run itself, we’re just a click away.

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