How to Onboard Your Boss

When we’ve addressed onboarding best practices in the past, we’re usually discussing onboarding those who work beneath managers and department leads. What happens when there’s a new boss in the office? Whose responsibility is it to get them acclimated to the group and their new role? Onboarding programs have been shown to increase retention by 25% and even improve employee performance by up to 11%, so surely it cannot go unaccounted for… If your organization doesn’t have an answer to the executive onboarding question, we have a few suggestions to start you and your new manager off on the right foot.

First Impressions are Forever

Although you should be conscious of first impressions with everyone and all new hires that come through those office doors, this first impression is particularly important because he or she will soon be evaluating your work and likely leading you and the team. Be sure to extend your hand for a handshake and assure them you’re there to help through their transition. Up to 20% of employee turnover happens in the first 45 days and nothing would scare a new boss off faster than employees who seem unprepared, threatening or disapproving of their new leader’s arrival.

Read more on creating a meaningful onboarding experience

Be a Tour Guide

Stay true to your promise of support by planning a tour for the new boss. We’re not just talking about the water cooler’s location either. Take the time to introduce them to the goals, priorities, and opportunities of the company. Be transparent about the unspoken goals and rules of their department, taking extra care to highlight the values and culture of the organization. Hopefully, the new manager has already heard some ins and outs from the execs that hired them on, but reviewing those elements on a closer level will give them a more accurate depiction and possibly a fresh look from someone who works on the team. It’s a view only those closer to the everyday challenges will understand.

Give a Team Overview

Coming into an organization to lead a team or group of teams that you know nothing about can be complicated, especially as you get used to the people dynamics and each individual’s personality. Giving these insights to your new boss will surely help them in their new role as well as prep the tenured teams within your organization. Try to be objective with your descriptions of others’ characteristics, including their position within the team. For example, if you don’t feel comfortable having the new boss email your words verbatim, then don’t mention them. It’s important that your new leader sees team members with fresh eyes and no preconceived ideas that might affect how they treat an employee.

Provide Project Overviews

So the team dynamics are established and the new leader knows where the water cooler resides, now it’s time to cover the projects currently taking place as well as past accomplishments and challenges. Provide him or her with summaries and goals for the tasks as well as what has worked well in the past. Make the discussion transactional by asking questions about their ideas for process change.

If the new manager wants the strategy behind a process, explain it fully. As the leader becomes comfortable enough to actually make decisions, it will be beneficial for them to understand what has and hasn’t worked in the past and why it may not be a viable solution again. Leaving him or her in the dark or giving a simple, “because that’s how we do it,” will never result in innovative change, improvements or an engaged leader and employee. By providing those details, however, you’ll give the new hire the chance to contribute to the team sooner and may even learn a bit about their leadership style and garner new ways to approach old problems.

Getting any new hire up to speed is never an easy accomplishment since it typically takes eight months for a newly hired employee to reach full productivity. This can be even more difficult for new hires at the executive level as they get acclimated with their new role. Need some help with the first steps? Download our candidate planner checklist to make their first day the best day!