How a new hire experiences the first months of a new position can play a big role in whether an employee decides to stay with a company long term. It is important to invest time and money into a successful onboarding program. When it comes to executive onboarding, effective onboarding is even more imperative.

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What Is Executive Onboarding?

Onboarding refers to how new employees are brought into the organization. Executive onboarding refers to that process for executive positions, including upper management positions such as CEO, CFO, COO, CHRO, or Senior HR Manager.

Why Is Executive Onboarding Important?

A robust onboarding process is important if you want to attract and keep good talent. This couldn’t be truer than with executives, as they are typically brought in to make changes or to elevate a company. The onboarding process gives them time to consider what kind of impact they can make at a company. The onboarding they receive will be compared to their onboarding experience at other companies and gives them their first understanding of the employee experience at your organization. Here are a few reasons why executive onboarding is so crucial.

  • Potential impact on a company. Executive employees brought into a company have far more experience than other new hires. They likely have worked for various companies and various industries. As an executive employee, they are looking to see what kind of impact they can make as an executive and what changes can be made at the company. During onboarding, the new executive sees how what is important to the company is expressed and emphasized to new employees.
  • Comparing their onboarding experiences. Again, executive employees have a vast amount of work experience. They have been through countless onboarding experiences, good and bad. They know what works and doesn’t work. A bad onboarding experience can raise red flags for them and increase the chances that they will leave, whether at that point or down the road.
  • Better understanding of employee experience. The employee experience at a company is often a great indicator of the company culture and overall wellbeing of the employees. This employee experience begins with and is demonstrated at onboarding. In their own onboarding, new execs see what the culture is like and how they might improve it.

Tips for Successful Executive Onboarding

In any kind of onboarding, it’s important to put in the necessary time and preparation so employees are as prepared for success as possible. That is even truer for an executive. Part of a successful executive onboarding includes setting clear expectations, having a training schedule, and giving the executive a chance to provide feedback.

Tip 1: Set Clear Expectations

Any time you bring on a new employee, you want to set the clearest expectations possible. A big part of setting clear expectations should happen during recruiting and before the employee starts, but expectations should be reiterated during onboarding. You won’t be able to tell the employee everything they will be doing, but you should review the main responsibilities their job entails.

Tip 2: Have a Training Schedule

When executives start at a new company, there are a lot of things for them to learn. They need to know the ins and outs of a company, and this can be overwhelming for a new employee. Having a training schedule outlined so the executive knows what they will be learning and when can help ease the executive into the new role. It can also show them how the training aligns with the expectations set for the job.

Tip 3: Give Executives a Chance to Provide Feedback

One often forgotten part of the onboarding process is to provide feedback. Executives are employees with a lot of experience and are probably full of ideas. This is a great chance to learn from them and understand how the onboarding process could improve. This will not only be beneficial for future executives, but all future employees’ onboarding experience.

What Does the Executive Onboarding Process Look Like?

The executive onboarding process doesn’t vary too much from the onboarding of other employees, but there are a few key points to consider for an executive onboarding process. You will want to make sure they understand the organization, their potential impact, and the company’s future thoroughly.

Understanding the Organization

An executive typically needs a higher-level understanding of the organization than other employees coming in. Executives will be making decisions that affect the entire organization, so it is important for them to understand each department from top to bottom. They need to understand what impact each department has and how their decisions might affect each department.

Potential Impact

When an executive steps into a new role, they need to understand how their role will impact each employee at the company. As an executive, they will likely make some hard choices that will affect everyone, so it is important for them to understand the magnitude of those decisions and their potential impact.

Company’s Future

An executive is a leader of the company. As a leader, they need to know where the company is headed and where leadership wants it to be headed. Those could be completely different. If that is the case, the executive might be brought in to help fix that. Company leadership needs to have a clear idea of where they want to lead a company so that they can create goals and strategies and communicate them to the rest of the company.

Questions You’ve Asked Us About Executive Onboarding

This is different for every company. Some executive onboarding includes meeting with clients, which can take up lots of the time. At some companies, onboarding is seen as a process that lasts a week or two; others consider it a year-long experience.
Executive onboarding should be handled by the HR team (or onboarding team), as well as some of the executive team. Typically, much of the training will be done by members of the executive team.

Tanner has over 4 years of HR professional experience in various fields of HR. He has experience in hiring, recruiting, employment law, unemployment, onboarding, outboarding, and training to name a few. Most of his experience comes from working in the Professional Employer and Staffing Industries. He has a passion for putting people in the best position to succeed and really tries to understand the different backgrounds people come from.

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