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Executive Onboarding Strategies: How to Set Management and Leadership Up For Success

Help new leadership team members understand your company's mission, values, & goals

Elle Mason

by Elle Mason - October 27th, 2022


While most of us have seen exhaustive guides to onboarding new employees, remote workers, offshore staff, and beyond, executives and senior managers are expected to join an organization and hit the ground running. And why is that? Well - partially because they’re more experienced hires and they’re expected to be able to learn on the go while attending to more high-level tasks. But this can be a misstep - more organizations should design and implement executive onboarding strategies.

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What Is Executive Onboarding and Why Is It Important?

An executive onboarding strategy is a process designed to help new executives and managers assimilate into their new company, team, and culture. It helps the new manager understand the vision, mission, values, and goals of their new company. The process of executive onboarding can seem daunting, so it's important to support the new leadership member at every step. The HR team should help ease their transition into an established team with manageable expectations and guidance when so there aren't any surprises later on!

Unfortunately, onboarding sometimes gets overlooked as executives and management are often brought on in times of emergency or crisis and expected to use their experience to get quickly up to speed and begin adding value and insight from day one.

Onboarding should be designed according to the needs of management or executives on a specific level. If they are brand-new to the industry or organization, for example, then they will need more guidance and training on processes, procedures, and people - as well as critical contextual information - than someone who has been with the company and has now moved into a management or executive role, or even someone who is coming from the same level and industry but into a new organization.

The Components of a Successful Executive Onboarding Strategy

There are many steps that need to be taken into account when it comes to onboarding an executive. This includes deciding on the right people that will be joining the team, identifying their strengths and weaknesses, aligning their goals with those of the company, and ensuring that they have all the tools they need for success. At a minimum, an executive onboarding plan should include the following:

Introduction to Company Culture

This phase is about getting everyone acquainted with how things are done in your organization. It includes all of the tangible and intangible elements of the environment, the unspoken norms and expectations and it can also be what differentiates you from a direct competitor if a candidate was trying to decide where to work.

Introduction to the Organization's Vision and Mission

This is a critical piece for everyone but especially managers and executives. This will give them a frame of reference for their work and help them understand how their role contributes to the larger goal. It's also a good opportunity to explain any key values or principles that the company holds dear.

What is your company’s vision? What is its mission? What is the “why?” Knowing this can help new leadership members better understand what the company values and how to best fit in.

Introduction to Key Processes

This phase is about getting acquainted with their new role and responsibilities, which includes identifying professional goals and targets, understanding how the company is structured and seeing how different teams work together. If the previous step was your “why” then this step is your “how?”

Introduction to Team Members

In order for new leadership to be successful, it’s crucial for them to understand the dynamics of their new team and what drives each individual they will be managing. They need to get to know their team members on a personal level so they can work together effectively. This involves understanding what makes each person tick, what their goals and motivations are, and how they prefer to work. By doing this, they can start off on the right foot and develop a strong working relationship with their team.

Introduction to key stakeholders

Introducing new executives to the company's key stakeholders is an essential part of their onboarding process. This phase focuses on managing expectations from stakeholders across the organization and understanding who they are, how everyone works together, how to communicate, and more.

By understanding who these people are, your new manager can begin to form relationships and get up to speed on the company's operations. This process typically includes introductions to the board of directors, executive team, direct reports, and other important individuals or groups within the company. It can also involve meetings with customers and outside partners.

Consider this a high-level checklist that you can use to ensure that the key elements of onboarding are happening with your management and executive team. After all, a frazzled and confused manager isn’t going to lead their team and department as effectively as they could with proper preparation and onboarding. While many organizations are eager to immediately extract value from their new additions to the company, investing in onboarding will pay dividends in the form of long-term performance and productivity.

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