Hiring for a senior position requires a lot of time and effort up front to ensure that the appropriate candidate has the right mix of skills and expertise to succeed in the role. But, equally important is the effort required after they’ve been brought on board to ensure that they are integrated into the company properly. Don’t confuse onboarding with integration. To ensure the success of your new hire, you should be taking a deliberate and comprehensive approach to making sure that the relationship between the new hire and the company is fruitful and rewarding for all parties.
When confronting new challenges or seeking to enter new markets, organizations often seek outside support – be it for new skills, new expertise, new perspectives – in the form of a senior hire. Regardless of the reason for the hire, this often means a significant investment in recruitment that can bring much-needed expertise and fresh perspectives into the company.
However, the success of a senior hire – and the return on investment – is not guaranteed. In fact, research suggests that less than 2% of companies address the integration of senior hires systematically.
One of the reasons for this is that the onboarding process is often confused with integration. While onboarding is important, it is only the first step in a long journey. To ensure a successful senior hire integration, organizations must take a deliberate and comprehensive approach.
Why is it important to invest time in the integration a new senior hire?
Hiring a new senior person is often a massive investment and the reality is that until they are fully productive, they continue to cost the organization money. Research shows that it can take approximately 8 months for a new senior hire to reach full productivity. The research also indicates that this can be reduced by 34% with a deliberate and extended integration process versus a standard onboarding program which is usually 1 to 2 weeks in duration.
A new senior hire most often brings an array of skills, knowledge, and industry expertise to the organization that can improve operations, help the organization grow, make better decisions, and potentially increase its success. The experience they bring can also help them identify problems or opportunities that the company might not have considered, helping the organization develop strategies for overcoming them and finding ways to capitalize on trends or other industry developments.
Brenda Kirkwood, Vice-President of Post-Placement-Integration at Keynote Group has this to say on the importance of ensuring proper integration of a senior hire: “The investment made by an organization in a new hire is substantial – in some cases, up to four times the employee’s annual salary comprises the fixed cost of recruitment and the variable loss of productivity during the open role period and the new hire ramp up period. Depending on the success of the new hire, the return on investment can be massively positive or a damaging negative. Successful onboarding and integration is critical to determining where it lands.”
Tips for making the integration process work
To begin, there are so many misconceptions that get in the way when we think of integrating a new senior hire. Organizations often assume that the person they hired is smart, so they’ll figure things out on their own, or that the org chart is good enough for them to figure out who to connect with. On the flip side, the new hire often assumes that how they have approached things in the past in other organizations will work just as well in the new organization; that they will get to know their colleagues “organically” over time.
These types of misconceptions lead to poor integration. To ensure success, it is vital to have alignment. Setting clear goals and expectations for the senior hire, making sure that the other members of the Executive team understand and support the objectives given to the new person, ensuring the senior hire has the support they need to understand “how things are done here”, and much more.
Leadership should also allocate resources to make sure the senior hire is equipped with the tools they need to do their job. Consider the systems and processes that need to be in place to ensure that objectives are met, At the same time, a deliberate integration approach will create accountability on the part of the senior hire to ensure they invest in relationship building and keep an open mind to better understand the organizational culture before jumping in too fast and too deep.
What to keep in mind when talking about Senior Hire integration?
Integrating senior hires into an organization can be a challenge. For starters, it can be difficult to determine how much authority you can give the hire. Senior staff may be hired with specific goals in mind, but the existing team may feel threatened or resentful of the additional authority and resources given to the newcomer.
Another challenge is to ensure that the senior hire gets accurate and meaningful feedback. They will need to be consistently appraised of their progress in meeting targets and expectations. This feedback should come from a variety of sources, such as their peers, managers, and clients. This should include mentorship and support from other senior leadership members as well as a thorough review of the core practices and policies may also lead to improved integration.
Integrating senior hires into the organization is an important process that requires careful planning and dedicated resources. Without the right plan and support structure, the transition can be difficult and lead to failure. To support the successful integration of a new senior hire we recommend taking the time to understand the role that the senior hire will play, setting clear expectations and goals, and creating an environment of collaboration and feedback through regular communication and check-ins. Doing this will lead to a more engaged and productive employee.
Whether you are looking to fill a senior position or need guidance with onboarding/integration, Stratford’s People & Culture team can help.