Whether it’s an internal job change or a role at a new company, no one comes into a new position knowing exactly how everything works — not even senior executives. Yet when it comes to employee onboarding, it’s senior executives who are most often left to figure it all out for themselves.
According to the latest survey, the majority of executives said they received no formal workplace onboarding at all in their most recent roles. In fact, only 36 percent of respondents in the U.S. said their company had a formal executive onboarding process.
By now, most firms have come to understand the importance of extending onboarding to help ensure employees can get up to speed in their roles as efficiently as possible. But even today, there continues to be a glaring disconnect between the onboarding programs most businesses provide and the onboarding support that new executives need and expect.
Why is executive onboarding so important?
Simply put, taking a sink-or-swim approach to executive onboarding leaves too much to chance. Poor or nonexistent onboarding for senior management may diminish the impact new executives can have on the company, as well as extend the ramp-up time they’ll need to be able to start performing.
Successful executive onboarding programs provide a fast track to meaningful, productive work and strong employee relationships. And well-informed executives can build momentum early on rather than struggle up learning curves, reducing the time it takes to reach full performance to only four months.
Most executives agree that more meaningful onboarding support would have reduced the time it took for them to have full impact in their new roles. Today, almost 60 percent of executives report that it took them six months to get up to speed in their current role, with another 20 percent saying it took more than nine months.
Executive Onboarding Best Practices
Teaching Senior Executives What There Is To Know
Ultimately, onboarding senior leaders is less about teaching how to do something and more about teaching what there is to know — in the shortest time possible.
As L&D teams look to provide valuable new executive onboarding materials, the focus should be on casting a wide net for potentially valuable information. Any number of details may prove essential as new leaders work through their first 90 days, so L&D teams will want to ensure they make as much information available as possible on day one.
Here are 5 ideas for capturing information, expertise, and institutional know-how to better onboard your new executives:
Immersive corporate culture experiences
It’s not simply enough to tell your new executives what your values are — you have to show those values in action. All-hands meetings, award celebrations, employee resource groups (ERGs), team strategy meetings, and more can all quickly immerse executives in your corporate culture.
Recording videos of events and meetings to share with new executives gives them a window into your culture from day one, without having to wait for upcoming opportunities or work around scheduling conflicts.
Processes and policies
Executives need a firm understanding of existing processes and procedures in order to enact informed solutions and manage the changes needed to help the organization succeed. These types of information might include personnel management policies, hiring procedures, organizational structure details, legal and regulatory policies, safety and compliance procedures, and financial and accounting information.
And rather than asking execs to read through pages and pages of documents and manuals, capturing executive-level walkthroughs as video presentations can make it easier for new executives to absorb this important information in a shorter amount of time.
Knowledge from departing executives
The single best resource for most new executives will be their predecessor. Of course, most executives entering a new role will never have the opportunity to meet with the person they’re replacing. L&D teams can help smooth the transition by establishing formal processes intended to preserve as much of the outgoing executive’s institutional knowledge as possible before that person leaves the company.
Recorded video interviews with outgoing executives can efficiently capture details about their daily work, the status of existing and proposed projects, as well as organizational hurdles for which the incoming leader may want to plan.
Insights from new colleagues
Your existing executive team will also serve as a valuable resource for your newest team member. Facetime between new executives enables a two-way dialogue that can help answer the most pertinent questions a new executive has about company strategies and initiatives as well as providing cultural and political insights from seasoned leaders.
Most veteran executives will, of course, have a wealth of information to share with incoming leaders, and much of it won’t require a face-to-face sit-down meeting to share. Instead of making new executives wait for open moments in their new colleagues’ schedules, asking the other members of your senior leadership team to record a few short informational welcome videos will ensure your new executives will be able to access that knowledge from day one.
Subject matter expert downloads
While most senior executives won’t need to become experts themselves on things like day-to-day operations, systems, and services for each team, access to this information will none the less be quite valuable. Which is why more and more L&D teams are now tapping in-house subject matter experts (SMEs) to help in onboarding new executives, to better give new leaders an informed look into the inner workings of the business.
But scheduling in-person meetings with many different SMEs can realistically take many months, and the detailed information exchanged in these face-to-face meetings is all too easy for a busy executive to forget amid all the other things they’ll be learning during onboarding. Which is why, here too, more and more L&D teams are asking SMEs to capture their knowledge in informational videos for new executives to watch on-demand as needed or as they work through their onboarding tasks.
Rapid Executive Onboarding With On-Demand Video
Today, most executive onboarding is an informal combination of meetings, handbooks, and hope. But L&D teams are beginning to apply the same concepts and tools they already use for more standard employee onboarding in order to implement formal onboarding programs tailored specifically for new executives.
Video, which is already a staple for training new hires in companies around the globe, can be an especially valuable asset when it comes to bringing senior executives up to speed as quickly as possible.
Video captures more details more efficiently. Emails and text transcripts from interviews with departing executives and soon-to-be colleagues can often be impossibly long — a simple 30-minute conversation may yield 20 pages or more of text. Yet trimming those documents down means that some important detail will be lost, rendering the exercise useless. Video, however, makes recording all that detail simple — the interviewee can simply turn on a webcam or use their smartphone and press “record”.
Related Reading: Solving Employee Onboarding Challenges with On-Demand Video
On-demand videos can provide information to new executives even before day one, and those videos can be secured and searched like any text-based resources for knowledge at any time during or after the onboarding process. Not only can your executives begin learning immediately with video-based resources, they can also search and revisit the information when they need it at any time.
But using video for onboarding and training can be challenging without the right technology. A video platform like Panopto enables L&D teams to capture, secure, and share videos for executive and employee onboarding in one searchable video library. To see how a video platform can make it possible for your organization to accelerate and improve executive onboarding, contact our team today to request a personalized demo of Panopto.