01 Jul ONBOARDING LEADERSHIP VIRTUALLY: TIPS AND STRATEGIES
Onboarding leadership virtually – Is it possible? A question we have been asked a lot lately – How can I integrate my leadership hire virtually? How can I give the same onboarding experience to someone who manages a team, region or a large PnL virtually? The current COVID-19 situation globally has forced us to relook at every parameter of talent acquisition. How we hire, who we hire and why we hire – most importantly how we onboard someone when they can’t meet their teams physically, have a coffee with a colleague, a welcome lunch with their manager or a one on ones with leadership. How do you hire and onboard a key leader virtually? A question that comes up often is, will the lack of human interaction lead to a lack of motivation and employee engagement? The answer that I get – do we have an option…
I have discussed with a lot of our clients on how we can make the virtual onboarding process as seamless and engaging as possible, re-looked at our own internal onboarding program at NAOS International and below are a few key points I think can help in onboarding senior leadership virtually:
- Equip them Technically before the actual start date:
A lot of times the IT teams spend hours setting up laptops – sharing IT best practices with the new joiner and engaging in conversation while they work their magic, today it needs to be done remotely. A real life recommendation from a tech client was – courier or get the laptop delivered one week before the actual starting date. Organise pre-calls with the IT department so the laptop is set up and tested before the actual onboarding to create a more smooth IT experience. This way the new hire feels more prepared and starts connecting to his new machine – make sure he has all the necessary apps for video conferences and software to facilitate his work, his shared work space and intranet is up and running and he has access to all internal database. Same with a company phone when applicable.
- Send them an orientation plan:
An orientation can last from a few hours going up to a few weeks depending on the role. We suggest sending an orientations plan one day before the actual start date. Send calendar invites for key meetings and details on who he will be speaking to, It is important for the new joiner, to be mentally prepared on what to expect. It is advised to spread the orientation across 1 week or phases with key video meetings with HR, one on ones with direct peers/teams and meeting the company MD/leadership he will interact with in his job. Highlight the company culture and values in conversations, videos, discussions to make them connect with the organisation. A lot of tech companies like Amazon, Google, Facebook give their new employees a virtual tour of the office/HQ so they can get the ‘feel’ of how it will be walking in on their first day.
- Organise training sessions:
This is a great time for coaching and training sessions, especially for new joiners before they start to accelerate in the next few months. Organise one on one training sessions about the actual job and what he is expected to achieve. Share more about the company structure, culture and how the organisation operates. Current situation can be tricky if you are in a B2B focussed organisation – At NAOS International we often organise global brainstorming sessions to find solutions together, the new joiner’s feel immediately engaged and have an opportunity to contribute right away. Invite them to global/regional trainings and workshops or seminars conducted by vendors, partners that can help them. This is also a good time to induct and introduce him to existing clients. All of this can be done via video.
- Hiring manager’s role is key:
The key to a successful orientation is the involvement of the hiring manager – you can either make or break it. A client, global company in the Facilities Management space recommends constant touch points weekly messages to check on him before the actual start date, a message to check once his IT is set up, a welcome email one day before starting etc. We suggest that the first meeting on the actual start date should be a welcome virtual coffee with the hiring manager as the candidate knows them the best – Why not sending a coffee via a food delivery app if allowed in your country during the lockdown or think of another way to add a more personal touch, be creative!. Share the orientation plan, help him know each person he is speaking to, share with him what’s going to happen over the next week and what project he will start working on. Start sending him some work related documents, presentations to go through parallelly to the orientation for him to get more involved. A catch up every day is advised for the first week to make sure they are engaged.
- Assign a project quickly:
Don’t wait for too long before you assign a project to the new hire. They have probably spent a few weeks without work waiting to start and being home, mentally not engaged. Get them busy quickly. It helps to assign a peer or a team who will support them in this project so they can really learn the ropes of the business and engage with other people in the firm. Some companies have a buddy system that allows the new hire to have more casual conversations and discussions at their level but may not work for management. Make sure they know who they can reach out to if they need anything with all the important contacts. Keep in touch and discuss constant updates, observations and progress.
- Plan for post COVID:
What happens when the lockdown is over and you are asked to come to work? Will your company implement team A / Team B concept where you and the new joiner cannot be in the same team in the office at the same time. Does he come under high-risk category with elderly at home and his coming into office will be delayed by a few more months? ‘In a situation when your whole team comes into office, there will need to be a re-orientation’ another Machinery client had mentioned to us during a discussion. It will be like meeting the person for the first time – Will a coffee meeting with the whole team and an official introduction do the job or will you let the team integrate organically?
At NAOS International we recently onboarded a Practice Director in our Paris office who has a global role. Planning ahead was key – Apple took a month to deliver the laptop to his home address. Our Management had a phased orientation plan set up where he spoke to his key team members, all his peers in Paris and understood the different scope of work and our methods. The second phase of the orientation started with him connecting to employees globally – he was introduced to all the Directors and interacted with all key members. In phase three he was invited to a global team meeting and started to know everyone. His direct manager was in constant touch with him – video meetings every day since the day he joined for 2 weeks and then moved to bi weekly one on one meetings. He went through training and coaching programs from the first day he joined, sometimes alone with his manager and sometimes in global groups. He is now one month into the organisation – He hasn’t met anyone physically.