You’ve done the hard work of selecting the best candidate for the position. You’ve invested time and money in interviews, assessments, and decision-making meetings. You’ve set the start date. Now, what do you do to ensure your new leader gets the best start possible?
A study conducted in 2008 by the Partnership for Public Service, and Booz Allen Hamilton revealed that 90 percent of new hires decide within six months whether they will stay at an organization. It also showed that on-boarding employees throughout their first year of employment increased retention rates by 25 percent. Other benefits include accelerated time to full productivity and increased engagement. Compelling rationale to design a quality on-boarding program! So, what does quality on-boarding include?
- Set up the office space. Provide a pleasant workspace, a laptop, functional phone, and all necessary documents on day one. This may seem obvious, but it is surprising how often it is not done, and what a negative impression that makes. In that clean, prepared workspace leave a note and a gift, such as a branded coffee mug and pens, and your new leader will feel warmly welcomed to the organization.
- Schedule the first week. Provide a tour of the office with an informative and friendly tour guide. Arrange lunch appointments for the first few days with peers and key stakeholders. Arrange a meeting with the team of direct reports. Don’t overschedule them, but do lay groundwork for them socially. And, as their boss, dedicate significant time with them that first week to share about the organization’s culture, goals, and your expectations. Set up meetings for the 30, 60, and 90 day mark so they can anticipate the opportunity for mutual feedback.
- Give them permission to slow down. Manage your expectations and theirs. Many a new leader has driven fast and furious from day one – right off a cliff! You’ve probably hired a high achiever, and the desire to impress by putting points on the board early can be nearly overwhelming. The most important thing a new leader can do in the first few weeks is meet people and listen. And listen, listen, listen. They should be forming impressions, gaining knowledge, reading the tealeaves, acutely aware that they don’t even know what they don’t know.
- Provide an assessment debrief and coaching. If the leader completed an assessment as part of the hiring process, provide the reports and a debrief with a coach. This is a great opportunity for the new leader to increase self awareness, and gain insight into their strengths and potential derailers relative to the particular role. It is also an opportunity for you to immediately demonstrate your commitment to their development and their success.
- Provide a new leader assimilation session. This exercise rapidly accelerates assimilation and bonding. It begins with a coach collecting anonymous questions and concerns from team members. The coach then reviews them privately with the leader prior to the assimilation meeting. The team building begins in the assimilation meeting when the new leader processes through all of the questions and concerns. This is ideally done in the first two weeks the leader is on the job.
What is your organization’s on-boarding process? If you don’t have one, or it’s merely an orientation, create one. Have your team get together and fashion a welcoming and productive way for a new leader to come on board. This in itself can be a terrific team building exercise.
For your success,