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Identifying the X factors in onboarding success

Onboarding new hires is critical but often overlooked, especially within scaling and more entrepreneurial companies.

The natural goal for any new hire is to make as swift an impact as possible. The desire to create a rapid impression is understandable but can also be a ‘danger zone’ for companies. Instead, I see far greater success and longevity with executive hires where onboarding is more measured—an investment in understanding the business’s drivers and culture first.

When I consider the critical factors differentiating executives who successfully transition to a new role versus those who fail, here’s what I have identified in my 25 years in executive search. Call them the x-factors that contribute to leaders thriving in their environment.

1: Networking

Those individuals who can move quickly within an organisation and build strong and diverse relationships are usually highly successful. These leaders identify networks that help them thrive early on.

2: Collaboration

Gartner’s research highlights that organisations rank collaboration as the second most crucial workforce skill after innovation. Instead of falling into the trap of self-promotion in the early days, being clear on what you can bring to the team will make a far greater impression.

3: Humility

When an industry is new to you, and you are engaging with executives with decades of experience in the sector, use this as an opportunity to learn from them—even if they are less senior than you. High performers instinctively want to make an early impact, but this is when mistakes can happen since you’re making decisions without adequate insight and taking unnecessary risks.

Onboarding that falls below candidate expectations is some of the most frequent feedback I receive from new hires. Companies battle hard to secure a new hire, but candidate engagement continues well after the start date. My counsel to companies is not to underestimate how powerful initial impressions are; that extra rigour can significantly impact buy-in and future performance.

Onboarding is a two-way street, though, and a playbook rarely exists, especially for high-growth, more entrepreneurial businesses. So, I encourage the executives I hire to shape their own high-level onboarding plan and discuss this with their direct manager in week one.

Companies must identify the x-factors during hiring processes that enable executives to onboard optimally. Executives should know the qualities that will set them up for leadership success in the early phases of a new company. This is the critical equilibrium to strike for the most effective onboarding.

For more help and advice with hiring the right talent and onboarding your next executive hire contact me at BartonRock Executive Search