How To Onboard Your New Leaders

Take time to onboard new leaders for a fast start

Onboarding is critical to a future leader’s success

As we start 2013, many of you are promoting people to your leadership teams. So how do you onboard these new team members more quickly? Since almost every midmarket organization I’m working with is trying to get more done with fewer leaders, it’s even more critical than in the past to align your new leaders with your organization’s mission and goals. How do you share your expectations with this new team member? I believe there are several things you must do to get off to a fast start in the coming year.

The first thing is you must share expectations for the individual role. Make sure the person understands their individual role in the business. Check to be certain they understand what is expected in the new role they are taking on. Review with them the individual contributions of managing this this new position.

The second thing is to help this individual understand the role on an enterprise level. This includes a discussion on what you expect of leaders within your organization. Communicate how you expect them to work with others and make sure they have the right tools to begin building critical connections with other leaders with your organization. This could also include introducing them to others in your enterprise. Your communication to other leaders on your team is critical to help these people get off to a great start. I’ve seen many promotions fail over the years because people across the organization have not been aware of a recent promotion, the reason why a person is moving into their new role, or why they should change their habits to work with the new person.

The third expectation is to share your expectations with the individual as a member of the senior leadership team. During this conversation you could reveal how you work best with your fellow team members. What are their accountabilities as a member of the senior leadership team? What’s the best way to make sure that they get the support they need from you. I also think it’s critical to establish a communications framework so that the new person understands the best way to communicate with you. Most people have a preferred way of communication, for example, I prefer the phone versus email. Many other executives I work with prefer email. I negotiate with new team members to determine how they prefer to hear from me. I also ask new team members to share this with all their fellow team members during their initial time with the organization.

And finally, during this part of the onboarding process I also start my file on the new team member. This file includes their preferences and also personal information, such as birthdays and family members’ names, and special interests that will help make the transition easier for them. You’re investing significant time and resources in this new person and the personal connection to the individual is the glue to the new organization. Even the most senior people I’ve worked with may struggle with simple things during the initial phases of their new position.

Taking the new person to lunch or just dropping by to see if things are going as expected can help you make a person feel more welcome. I understand that many of these things may have been discussed during the interview process. Having spent many years in an executive search role, I have discovered most great executives have several interview processes going on at the same time. If it’s an internal promotion they may have received many different messages from different members of your leadership team.

If you do this with your new leadership team members, you will be surprised how quickly they begin making a large contribution to your team. It’s your responsibility to provide them with clarity, confidence, and capability in their new role. You’ll both be glad you did.

About the Author

Tripp Braden partners with financial and advisory services clients to create an anticipatory strategy and mindset. By leveraging people and technology he breaks down barriers to combine planning and innovation in a way that increases profits and accelerates sales results.
He’s a growth strategist and internationally recognized Sage Global Business Expert and IBM Futurist who turns strategy into implementable business development activities for increasing market share, revenue, and profits. He has proven success seeing the big picture and creating new market opportunities.
Tripp can be contacted at tbraden@marketleadership.net or send him an invite on LinkedIn. You can find Tripp’s other blog at Market Leadership Journal.

Tripp Braden – who has written posts on Empowering Serving Advisors.


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