First impressions count – the importance of successful onboarding

June 4th 2017 | Posted by phil scott

First impressions count – the importance of successful onboarding

No matter how effective an organisation’s hiring process is, talented executives can sometimes quickly feel disengaged and underequipped as a result of poor onboarding practices, which can lead to their failure to perform and even their departure. Surely no organisation would want that to happen, after having invested all that time, effort and money into the recruitment process, to secure the executive in their sights.

Providing support to a new executive in his or her first days at an organisation is so important but can sometimes be overlooked. Little things matter, such as ensuring they are not left standing around while an IT engineer crawls on the floor and sits at their desk, setting up the executive’s new computer. And imagine how dismayed an executive would feel on their first day if they can’t obtain something as simple but essential as a notepad or pen. This can be prevented if the HR department keeps in touch with the incoming executive in the run-up to their first day, ensuring that everything they need is ready for when they start. Your new recruit will also feel cared for if HR checks in with them periodically to make sure everything is going well and to see if they can provide any further assistance to make the candidate feel even more part of the organisation.

In our experience as executive recruitment consultants, simply showing a new executive around the building, introducing them to certain other employees and giving them an overview of organisational aspects relevant to them isn’t enough and is taking a short-term view. Why not allow executives to spend half a day with key stakeholders around a business, so they can really get a feel for the organisation, its culture and objectives, forming good relationships from the outset?
Organisations hire individuals with unique skills, so why not tailor onboarding to each executive? Onboarding can be started even before their first day comes around, and many organisations have found success in introducing interviewees to colleagues at the interview stage. Candidates will also sense an attractive openness if you are candid about your organisation, unafraid to mention a few not-so-good points when you are giving them your potted history. Small, personal gestures can go a long way, such as leaving a welcome gift on their desk. Some firms even go to the lengths of inviting new starters to team-building or social events, and if an executive is relocating with their family, all of them are cared for in the early days.

Learning & Development staff may also consider enabling new recruits to express their views, by providing them with one or more onboarding questionnaires, and assisting them with any areas of development they feel it would be beneficial to address.

Implementing an ongoing onboarding programme which begins from the interview stage of the executive recruitment process and continues right on through the first months or even year of a new executive’s career can make a huge difference, resulting in them feeling more engaged and hence working more effectively and excelling in their new role, for everyone’s benefit.