Recruiting senior management is a considerable time and money investment and getting it right, or wrong, can make a massive difference to your organisation and its reputation – both internally and externally. People are usually the most significant cost centre in a business, and the cost of the new hire goes well beyond payroll. Hiring is a complicated and lengthy process requiring skill, patience, time and money. But finding the right person is only the first hurdle, what about keeping them? 
It’s important to ensure you obtain an understanding of the type and culture of the organisation the individual worked for previously and their perception of how s/he operated within this. Understanding how success was measured in their previous organisation helps you, as a business, understand how they achieved success and how they can do the same, in your organisation. 
Getting your onboarding right is crucial. Not every organisation has a dedicated HR team to do the hiring and the ongoing employee relations. In fact, many small business owners, report that they spend around 40% of their working hours carrying out tasks that have nothing to do with income generation, including recruitment. Tight budgets mean recruitment isn’t a process you want to be repeatedly doing, not for the same position anyway! 
Onboarding coaching means you don’t risk losing a great person and wasting all that time and money. If your organisation is struggling with high staff turnover, this may be due to you getting the onboarding wrong. Onboarding coaching gives your new recruit the best possible chance of being effective within your business and your business the best chance of retaining great people. 
What is onboarding coaching and how do you get it right? 
From my experience of 25+ years in senior operational roles in City law firms, where we onboarded 100’s of support staff, associates and partners, the most successful process is a mixture of the formal programmes with bespoke elements aimed at the particular needs of the individual. This along with a buddy & internal mentor for a minimum of six months provides the new team member with an understanding of the role, their place within the organisation and the support to help ensure a successful transition. 
Providing the individual with a dedicated, independent and impartial coach who has walked in their shoes, can support the needs of both the organisation and the individual, providing successful onboarding of new hires as well as those returning from a career break. 
The coaching helps provide clarity about the role, a clear understanding of the expectations of the organisation and the required results. It is also effective in helping the individual manage their transition. 
There are many benefits of onboarding coaching, and below are some of the key ones: 
Clarity of the role – scope and purpose of the job and the extent of responsibility 
Embedding the individual in the organisational culture and values 
Expectations and Results – aligns how the individual and the organisation measures success 
Shorter learning curve accelerates time to full productivity 
Increasing productivity, providing effective feedback and reducing errors 
Managing change – their own and that of their new team 
Offers independent and impartial sounding board 
Promotes communication 
Research shows that 90 percent of employees determine whether or not they’ll stay in a role within the first six months and that structured onboarding programs can increase new hire retention by 25 percent. Therefore, it is undoubtedly worth this added investment. 
What happens if you don’t do onboarding coaching? 
The recruitment process is the culmination of months of planning, preparation and hard work. If the organisation moves on to “business as usual” too quickly they jeopardise the whole process. The majority of induction schemes are generally limited to HR compliance – required paperwork, office tours, shaking hands, a welcome lunch and more paperwork plus the IT Training. The new executive then becomes an island, having to find their own way. Does this sound familiar? 
The incoming executive then has to attempt to navigate this new landscape solo while trying to avoid cultural potholes, and dodging office politics, in addition to dealing with a new set of peers and subordinates, delivering on their role and responsibilities and developing a good impression. This poses a considerable disadvantage to the new hire and can lead to feelings of disappointment and disillusion — all within the first three months. 
“Executives who focus on understanding the organisational culture, get crystal clear about delivering on their initial performance expectations, and solicit regular feedback succeed,” said Rania Anderson, an independent executive business coach and author, who has successfully onboarded executives… “Getting off on the wrong foot is usually irreversible.” 
Culture is THE most crucial element of the onboarding process. Peter Drucker, American management consultant, often described as the founder of modern management, says “Culture eats strategy for Breakfast” and for good reason! 
Skills and experience may be one of the primary motivators for appointing, but without a clear understanding of the organisation’s culture, no candidate will be able to deliver on the expectations of the role. Culture and attitude can be taught, but it requires time and effort to be invested in the right person. 
Onboarding Coaching supports the person to assimilate the culture, working processes/practices, identifying formal and informal networks together with the strengths and weaknesses of the organisation, as quickly and effectively as possible. 
It is easier to learn systems and processes than it is to adapt emotionally, especially if you are used to working in a different style with different organisational expectations and measures of success. 
Recommended methods for onboarding 
Coaching programmes are created around the needs of both the organisation and the individual. The overall goals are: 
To ensure that the strategic aims of the business are supported 
That the new employee has everything they need to remove any barriers in achieving their key objectives 
The level of support required is a combination of what is needed to support the strategic aims of the business and whatever support or development the individual feels they need to help them in the role. These factors should be mapped out at the very first stage. 
The four areas you need to focus on when developing a bespoke coaching programme are: 
Management Style 
These provide a solid foundation on which to create a seamless integration programme. Maximise your return on investment, hang onto that shiny new executive or senior manager by creating a coaching programme that creates value and protects the longevity of your investment. 
About The Author 
Tracey Latteman is an Executive Coach 
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