At present, every fourth employee leaves a company during the first year after being hired. This was the conclusion of the Haufe Onboarding Survey 2017 among 227 HR managers, with comparable figures among executives. This could have been prevented with a type of tour guide for the new recruits. However, this integration task obviously presents many employers with major challenges: only about one third of the companies introduce new employees in a structured manner into their future job. This is all the more astonishing, since it is usually the filling of open management positions that requires a lot of time and money beforehand. But with the right help there are effective ways to get the candidates engaged quickly and effectively.
Onboarding with culture and goal orientation
Regarding onboarding, the requirements for HR-Management have increased significantly in recent years. While previously the standard approach was always to “jump in feet first”, newcomers at management level today often go through onboarding programs with coaches, who introduce them to the company and their tasks in a professional step by step process. They gain quick insight into the processes, infrastructure of their new workplace and are introduced to the corporate culture and its goals. This also includes conveying the “unwritten laws” of the organization and the social and power structures in as much detail as possible. Otherwise, executives in their new areas of responsibility will quickly step into the pitfalls of employees and customers. However, if the newcomer is socially accepted, he receives more information and can respond appropriately.
Key role of the HR department
The first few weeks at the new workplace are especially crucial for successful integration. But the onboarding of new executives involves much more than just knowledge transfer. A professional onboarding process at the management level begins in the run-up to the first working day of the new employee in the company and usually only ends after months. In many companies, the HR team is responsible for the development and implementation of integration programs. Employees from the ranks of the HR team, internal mentors and more frequently external coaches help with integration.
Mentors and coaches
Mentoren sind hierarchisch gleich gestellte erfahrene Führungskräfte aus einem anderen Unternehmensbereich. Ein Mentor unterstützt maßgeblich die Identifikation mit dem Unternehmen, da er durch seine Kenntnis des Unternehmens und seiner Kultur Mentors are hierarchically equal, experienced executives from another division. A mentor significantly supports the identification with the company, since his knowledge of the company and its culture can make much of it understandable and comprehensible to the newcomer. Mentors help the new manager in the initial phase in all professional and organizational matters, thereby speeding up the integration of the subject. Mentors also support their candidates in building and expanding personal networks of key people in the company.
External coaches offer neutral support and ongoing exchange. They were usually employed in senior positions and know the hierarchy level of the novice, but do not necessarily have to come from the same industry. Together with their new recruits, they develop individual strategies for challenges in everyday life and help them constantly reflect on their own role in the new company.
Google: Five mandatory rules of onboarding
In the best scenario, all employees and management colleagues are instructed to get involved in the onboarding process. For example, on the eve of the first working day of a new employee, Google emails its executives to remind them of their five responsibilities:
- Discuss tasks and responsibilities
- Connect the new recruit with a contact at the same hierarchical level
- Support him in building a network
- Discuss the training once a month
- Encourage him to provide feedback
Feedback makes integration successful
Regular feedback is critical to the success of new management integration. So, both sides should regularly request feedback and formulate their expectations. The new executive receives continuous feedback, allowing him to integrate more easily. Through anonymous interviews of the onboarding coaches with colleagues, supervisors, employees and customers it can be easily determined, for example, how the candidate is perceived professionally and personally. Such all-round feedback provides important information and is a valuable basis for the further progress of the new recruit.
Often onboarding programs end after the first 100 days. Studies show, however, that the “emotional hangover” happens between the seventh and eleventh month, when the initial euphoria of the new position is replaced by everyday life and the new employee notices that often everything is not going as he had imagined. A longer-term onboarding process can cushion the dissatisfaction of the candidate and an external coach can discuss the strategy of the next months neutrally.
Of course, such intensive support by onboarding coaches has its price. But it pays off if targeted onboarding can avoid costly failures in the integration of new executives into the company and the initial turnover can be correspondingly reduced. In addition, professional onboarding helps increase the loyalty of executives to the company. Ultimately, good integration also increases their satisfaction and loyalty.