How to Onboard Executives (and Why You Should)

By Robert Half on January 27, 2022 at 6:30pm

Many employers provide well-structured, highly supportive onboarding programs to help ensure new hires, including remote employees, have a smooth start to their new role. But management-level hires aren’t always offered the same kind of formal onboarding process as non-management employees.

There’s often an assumption that executives don’t need onboarding because they’re seasoned professionals. However, you’ll position your senior-level hires for more immediate success by helping them gain a solid understanding of the company’s mission, vision, values, short- and long-term business goals, success metrics, current and emerging competitors, and critical stakeholders from the outset.

Executives are conditioned to taking on new challenges and working under pressure, but they can still benefit from having time to adapt to their new role and the company’s culture. And, of course, they need to get to know their team and colleagues — and vice versa.

Quick tips for how to onboard executives effectively

For a newly hired executive to begin adding value to the company, they need to completely understand what their position entails, including the official and unofficial rules and potential risks that accompany their leadership role. So, be sure to customize the onboarding program for executives appropriately.

The onboarding process you design should also:

Promote networking

Executives, in addition to meeting their own team and key decision-makers in the company, should be encouraged to network with cross-divisional management colleagues. Corporate management will also want to make sure that executive hires are invited to important and relevant meetings and included on all pertinent communications.

Outline expectations and priorities

Executives need to navigate different, and often competing, expectations from their superiors, employees and others. These expectations aren’t always communicated clearly — which is another reason the onboarding process for executives is so important.

Guidelines and requirements need to be outlined thoroughly, so the new management-level hire knows exactly what’s expected of them.

Provide feedback

Behaviors and methods an executive learned in previous roles with other organizations may not align well with their new position and responsibilities or may require some adjustments. So, receiving regular feedback on performance during onboarding — and in the initial weeks and months that follow — is crucial for an executive’s growth. New leaders need to understand how their management style and choices may impact other team members and overall business decisions.

Drive visibility

Giving a new senior-level manager the platform to communicate with team members openly at all levels is incredibly valuable. It helps them gain direct insight into vital topics and concerns for the business, its workforce, and its partners and customers. Visibility also helps new executives earn the trust and loyalty of their employees, colleagues and peers in the organization.

Offer mentoring

It’s common practice in many leading organizations to provide a new employee with a mentor during their first few weeks on the job. Mentoring helps promote networking and relationship-building. And for executive hires, it can provide more insight into how the company operates and what it takes to succeed as a member of the leadership team.

So, consider setting up mentoring arrangements for executives as part of their onboarding process. Colleagues who work at the same or a higher level in the organization as the executive who is onboarding are well-positioned to provide constructive and meaningful guidance as a professional mentor.

Applying these quick tips for how to onboard executives will help ensure you are setting up these critical new hires for success. Every new employee, including senior-level hires, can benefit from a well-structured onboarding process that allows them to transition into your organization quickly but comfortably. You want your executives to have all the information, tools and contacts they need to be effective leaders, and the onboarding process is an opportunity to equip them with all of that and more from the very start.

Conducting an executive talent search?

If your organization needs to hire talent for C-level and VP-level roles, Robert Half’s executive search team can assist with your search. Our team can also provide recommendations for how to onboard your new senior-level management hires successfully.

Contact us today to discuss your executive hiring needs.

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