Onboarding: The Next Phases
In a previous blog, I addressed the front end/pre-hiring phase of the onboarding process and in this blog, I would like to share some of my thoughts regarding three additional aspects that are essential to a successful onboarding experience.
Although often not considered part of onboarding, the “job offering” process is, from our perspective, a very important phase of the onboarding experience. All elements of the job offer provide the new employee with a set of impressions regarding the ways of the organization that make an impression and have a lasting effect. Some key questions and activities to reflect upon, which require answers and strategy, are—who communicates to the candidate that he or she has been selected for the job? What is the message that needs to be conveyed? How long after the final interview with the candidate should a call be made? Who makes the offer—is it the CEO, the CPO, or the SVP of Talent Acquisition? Who negotiates the compensation package? Who writes the offer letter and what is its content and tone? Each one of these decisions and subsequent actions convey an implicit message. Many companies fail to recognize this and what impression that leaves or is thought about from the perspective of the candidate/future executive. And, at times, the message that the organization is sending may not be consistent with the organization’s brand, image, values, and culture—both explicit and implicit.
If a candidate has to move from a different city, state, or country, it is crucial that the spouse and any dependents also get acquainted with the company and the new location. Often a family’s successful integration to the community determines the success and tenure of the newly hired executive. For that reason, a tandem onboarding program for the family of the new executive is a must.
From my experience, most companies have some kind of onboarding process—some are more extensive than others, some are very institutionalized, and some are more organic. They usually include meetings with critical stakeholders; learning about the organization’s services or products by having the new executive work in the field, store, or manufacturing facility for one or two weeks to get some sort of exposure to the market, clients, and vendors; and attending classes or seminars that focus on the espoused organization’s culture, values, and preferred leadership style to succeed in the company. Some companies, on the very first day, provide an office with a nameplate, a fully equipped workstation, business cards, an email account, and access codes for the telephone system, Wi-Fi, and teleconferencing. Some companies, throughout the onboarding process, have mentoring programs to support a new arrival.
All these onboarding components are often established in a protocolized manner and, at times, I find this process to be somewhat institutional and of a “copycat” style where new executives feel more like a spectator than a participant. At the end of the onboarding process, they have not developed any significant bond with others in the organization and are left to their own devices to figure out their way into their new world. In some organizations, the ensuing months for a new executive may be a “walk in the park” but for others, it’s a much tougher journey. Organizations may be good at providing a standard, well-rehearsed onboarding process but very few are good at providing an individualized process that takes into account the specific styles, needs, and concerns of the executive and his or her family.
We, at ExecuQuest, strongly suggest conducting a 90-day New Hire Employee Survey to assess the impact of the onboarding process on the new executive as well as to gather their perspective on the organization’s culture, leadership, and overall health. The data from this survey is not only considered useful to improve the onboarding process but provides an opportunity for senior leaders to take a comprehensive look at their organization from the fresh perspective of new executives. For the new executive it is of extreme importance that, within a year after joining the organization, he or she goes through a 360-feedback process in order to get a sense of those areas of strength as well as those areas of opportunity which have been identified by his or her associates that are critical for their integration and success in the company.
A strong, well-thought-out, personalized onboarding process may make all the difference in the success and tenure of the organization’s newly acquired talent and provide a potential huge return on its investment.
Want to learn more about how ExecuQuest can help you with onboarding executives at your company? Please contact us.