How to Onboard New Senior Executives

The process on onboarding employees can have tremendous implications for your business, says Johanna Vargas of BroadView Talent Partners in a new report. Going the extra mile to ensure a streamlined process, clear communication, proper timing, and practical resources will pay dividends for all concerned.

August 4, 2023 – Whether you’ve secured locally-based talent or hired from afar and are supporting a relocation, remember that starting a new chapter at any level of one’s career is both exciting and stressful. This is particularly true of those at the executive level, according to a report from Johanna Vargas, vice president and senior associate at BroadView Talent Partners. “A new door has opened, and investing the proper time and effort to create a comprehensive onboarding experience will make the journey as smooth as possible for your new employee, whether they are mid-career or joining the C-suite,” she said. “More importantly, this process is crucial to their success and longevity at your organization. Effective relocation and onboarding programs are powerful employee retention tools that deserve maximum attention.”

“There are of course the standard components that cannot be ignored, such as an informative welcome package, meet and greet, orientation, training program, and IT setup,” Ms. Vargas said. “But taking it one step further to ensure a streamlined process, clear communication, proper timing, and practical resources not only provide a fantastic candidate onboarding experience, they speak volumes about your company culture. It’s this attention to detail that helps to maximize engagement, evoke a positive attitude, and ensure new hires feel supported, hopeful, and excited about their leap onto your payroll.”

Be Smart From the Start

Ms. Vargas says that the key is to make new hires feel connected, informed, and valued from the beginning. She offered these five steps to help you get started right:

1. Design a personalized orientation session to acquaint them with your organization’s culture, values, and mission. Meet and greets allow the new hire to meet leadership and key team members, fully understand your organizational structure, and learn about the exciting projects and initiatives the organization is working on—from an employee perspective. For the best results, keep it casual and bring in food and beverages, says Ms. Vargas. In-house happy hours are a great way to end a long orientation day, she adds.

2. Identify areas of support and opportunity. “We stand by the concept that every employee—including an executive leader—does not need to have it all,” said Ms. Vargas. “However, they must have a preponderance of it all and any gaps they have must be able to be appropriately filled, whether through professional development or with the support of fellow team members. Ensure you have identified these areas that came up during the interview and selection process, and collectively make an appropriate plan of action to fill them, one that the new hire supports.”

Related: How to Onboard New Recruits in the New Normal

3. Provide tailored training programs and development opportunities. Continuous learning is vital for every employee’s personal and professional growth, and providing opportunities to enhance their skills will not only improve their onboarding experience but also illustrate your commitment to them as a valued team member, according to Ms. Vargas. She notes that in-house mentorship programs are also a powerful way to integrate new hires and illustrate you are invested in nurturing their potential and helping them thrive.

4. Give it a year. “The most successful onboarding programs encompass a full year from the date of hire,” Ms. Vargas said. “This allows time for the employee to listen, learn, and plan while simultaneously building both trusted relationships and brushing up on any necessary skills. Set regular check-in opportunities with key stakeholders, HR, or their direct report at 30, 60, and 90 days, as well as six months, nine months, and one year to ensure expectations on both ends are being met. These check-in opportunities provide a continuous feedback loop and ensure no new hire is left behind.”

Johanna Vargas has more than 20 years of experience in the business world, specializing in human resource consulting. Her expertise includes executive search, coaching, and training services for candidates and clients. With a particular emphasis on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), she has a successful history of placing C-suite executives in the affordable housing and non-profit sectors.

5. Lean on your search firm. Most executive search firms guarantee candidates for one year, which means they are invested in ensuring your new hire has everything they need to integrate and succeed. “We like to check in with our placed candidates at regular intervals over the first year of their new position to identify any potential areas of concern,” said Ms. Vargas. “Because we have developed trusted relationships with both the client and candidate and have thorough background knowledge of the position, we can effectively mediate and address any problems that arise.”

Extra Elements

When employees relocate for a new role, there are always extra elements to consider. “For starters, recognize that adjusting to a new location is a significant life change that can be traumatic for both the new employee and their family,” said Ms. Vargas. “Ensure that HR is involved at every step to provide support and resources as needed. This starts with providing relocation assistance, allowing for a reasonable and flexible timeline designed to help the new hire get settled with ease. Providing moving services, temporary housing, or a rent stipend helps to remove stress. Because houses can take months to sell, helping them find secure housing and get acquainted with the local community shows your commitment to making their transition seamless. It also allows your new employee to quickly settle into their new home and position, focusing their attention on their new role and embracing this exciting new chapter in their life.”

Lastly—and perhaps most importantly—organizations should do their best to ensure relocating candidates do not suffer a final detriment in relation to their move. “Clients must be prepared to reimburse the candidate for all approved and IRS compliant expenses, even if this number exceeds original estimates,” said Ms. Vargas. “This industry standard must be followed without fail. Ultimately, an organization’s success is a collective effort. Your onboarding program is only the beginning of a new employee’s journey with your organization, but it is the foundation on which their tenure is built. Show excitement to have them on your team and back it up with actions that prove you are grateful for the opportunity to watch them grow, contribute, and become an integral part of your community. Once the one-year onboarding process is finished, keep an open door for feedback, questions, and concerns.”

Founded in 2015, BroadView Talent Partners is a national executive search firm dedicated to placing leadership in affordable housing agencies, non-profit organizations, and associations, as well as middle market companies. The firm provides clients with a national network; commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion; and a record of long-tenured placements. Its specialties include executive search, talent acquisition, retention solutions, career management, executive coaching, and board development.

Related: Top Practices for Successful Onboarding

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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