When you hire a new employee, onboarding them effectively into your organization is critically important in determining their future success. In particular, onboarding executives can help quickly integrate them into the team and enable them to start adding value quickly. Consider these 7 steps for executive onboarding:
1. Send pre-start documentation
As soon as an executive signs an offer letter, they should be eager to get started. I like to compile a big list of every relevant document I can find, put them all in a shared folder and send to the executive to start reading. This may include:
- Pitch decks
- Product overview
- Previous All Hands meetings slides
- Sales proposals
- Company history document
- Employee handbook
I expect a high quality executive to consume all of the above information on their own time, before officially starting work. This way, they walk in the door with more insight and are able to start contributing faster.
2. Give them a download of previous written status updates
One of the most challenging aspects of executive onboarding is that to start, new executives lack context about what is going on in your organization and what other executives are focused on. A great way to address this is to export the PDFs of your team’s weekly written updates and send them all to the new executive. If you’ve been sharing written updates each week, there will be an invaluable record, week by week, of your team’s plans, progress and problems. Reading this is among the best way for a new executive to quickly get up to speed.
3. Get them early access to internal systems
Once a new executive signs their paperwork (e.g. confidentiality agreements), create their credentials for your internal CRM, wiki, marketing automation system, Github, Slack etc. Similar to the document sharing listed above, executive onboarding should include an extensive review of the data in these systems. It can give the new executive a view into customer conversations, marketing messaging, and previous group messaging conversations.
4. Share a list of internal vocabulary
Every company has its own lingo. Make sure you’ve written it down and provided all of the acronyms in a cheat sheet for your new executive. They need to be able to quickly speak the same language as the rest of the organization so they can contribute more.
5. Stack their calendar with employee and customer meetings
In the first couple of weeks of executive onboarding, a valuable way to fill time is to add the executive to as many calendar invitations as possible. If you have customer meetings, sales demos, partner discussions or internal meetings, these can all be great places for a new executive to be a silent observer and absorb more knowledge about the current operations of the business.
6. Set clear goals and deliverables for the first week, and 30 60 90 days
While in the beginning it may feel as though a new executive is drinking from the firehose because they are learning so much, jumping from meeting to meeting, you should ensure there is proper structure and clear goals for the executive onboarding period. These should be written down, and executives should report on their progress in weekly meetings and written updates. It’s also advisable to ask them to prepare a 30 60 90 day plan for executives, which should be tracked and followed closely.
7. Plan several long sessions to answer questions
Finally, plan to meet with a new executive several times during their first couple of weeks. You’ll likely want to do several deep dives into the company history, product and key customer accounts. This is also a great time to answer questions the executive compiled while reading all of the documentation that was shared earlier.
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