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Riviera Partners

Pro Tips for Onboarding Leaders: The Close is Just the Beginning

Posted on Jan 17, 2023

So you’ve snagged yourself a top notch leader--nice work! However, just because you’ve closed a deal with your dream VP or C-Level executive doesn’t mean you can rest on your laurels. Once the contract is signed, it’s more important than ever to make them feel welcome. Here’s a step-by-step guide to make sure that once you’ve hooked ‘em, they’ll stay on the line.

The important thing to remember is that the person you’ve hired still has to extract herself from her current employer, which can be difficult. Recognize that that company probably put a counter offer on the table, and there might have been some back-and-forth there. Whether you like it or not, some people can be bought. Hopefully, this person is leaving for the right reasons, and that should be worked out in the recruiting process, but either way, fully bringing her into the fold--and helping with the transition--will help establish a sense of loyalty right off the bat. 

#1: Over communicate

As soon as he or she’s accepted, give her an email address immediately. Even if she hasn’t officially started, you want her to feel like she’s  already part of the team. Here’s a gesture we loved hearing about: we once had a client relocate a person to California for a new position. Prior to his arrival, the company sent a video welcoming him and a basket of California-specific food items and company swag; things like this will help the new person feel like a part of the family.  

Perhaps resources are too thin right now and mailing something is too tedious. Still, at this juncture she should have met with many of the people reporting to her --encourage those people to send an email welcoming her to the team.

#2: Begin ingraining her/him into the culture immediately

Immediately after you give your new hire a company email address and bring him in, offer to set up weekly in-person or Zoom planning meetings to ensure they have direction and knowledge, and start getting them ingrained into the culture. Ask: What questions can I help answer? What do we need to do to help you be successful? What tools do you need? What people do you need? What questions do you have that aren’t answered?  Work on a 30-, 60-, and 90-day plan to ensure there is alignment on the definition of success in the role, and what is expected.  All of this sets an emotional hook that’s hard to wiggle off of. 

#3: Set things in motion

Once your new hire has given notice to her current employer and has put a transition plan in, it’s your job to help her be successful. For the first six months, keep evolving the aforementioned plan to publicly celebrate early successes and add on new challenges to conquer. Make her feel invested in her own success and explain what she’ll get out of it. Involve others in her success. Give direct feedback; she will want to know what is working and what you can help her with.  This will draw her closer to having more of a mentor/mentee position with direct reports.

Remember the hire is not the win - if you can successfully support and encourage leaders within your company, that’s the true victory that nets returns.

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