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On-boarding Leaders Remotely

6 months ago by Clare McCartin

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Boards and CEOs have such a short window to immerse new leaders in the company culture and ensure they are equipped with the right tools, background information and stakeholder maps to get them started. So how can we ensure all upcoming appointments are given every chance of success through a remote on-boarding experience? 


Here are my top 3 tips: 

1. Increase Pre-employment Engagement

  • Expand on the information you typically send out to new starters by adding in some BAU content so they can get a sense of the burning issues before they start. 
  • Grow on the connection established at interview. Zoom in with your leader to provide insights about your cultural value proposition. Give them a stronger sense of the key issues the Board is seeking to address in a true “warts and all” context.
  • Send them a welcome pack, maybe with a box of nice tea, some coffee beans or a t-shirt/mug displaying the organisation’s logo.  
  • This makes them feel more connected as they join a new organisation remotely as well as displaying a sense of camaraderie to their team members by wearing and using those organisationally branded items remotely.

2. Get Tools & Experiences ready early

  • Get that detailed on-boarding plan and training schedule to them before their first day.  Ideally, you will fill most of their time up in the first three weeks.  
  • Beyond the usual induction online modules, ensure they have ample video conferencing face time with key internal and external stakeholders. Take the time to formalise an agenda so each meeting is impactful and relevant.
  • From a hardware standpoint, outfit new employees with the equipment they need to start work on day one. You can ship a computer, phone, headset, etc. to your remote employees or have a policy in place that allows them to bring their own device (BYOD) to work. 

3. Make them feel connected quickly

  • Be sure to give new leaders access to relevant communication groups, recurring calendar events and pair them up with an induction buddy. 
  • If they are the CEO, allocate a Board member who isn’t the Chair who can make welfare checks on the CEO.
  • If they are a Director/Manager, pair them up with a peer who can check in and do a virtual coffee at 3 pm every Monday and Friday for the first few weeks to ensure they’re settling in ok and feel connected and supported.
  • If they are a Director/Manager, pair them up with a peer with a contrasting style who can check in and do a virtual coffee at 3 pm every Monday and Friday for the first few weeks to ensure they’re settling in ok and feel connected and supported.

How will we act during this once-in-a-generation period?

  • We are living through an incredibly challenging period as a global community right now as we watch the world fight our invisible and shared enemy, COVID-19.
  • Our team of 25 in the Executive and Boards search team are currently running multiple CEO searches, dozens of Executive Director and Senior Manager searches as well as Chair and NED appointments. 
  • Some of these roles are out in the market already, others going out this week or next.
  • Being a provider to essential service and public sector clients, and appointing at the executive and board level, these roles simply can’t remain vacant or be paused for any lengthy period especially when none of us has a clear line of sight to how big the “tail” of COVID-19 actually is.

What are the silver linings in all of this?

  • The remote work world we have all been propelled into will have benefits for these new leaders.  
  • By “Zooming” into the homes of their team members daily, they will become familiar with them quickly, and get a better appreciation for the whole person they are leading, not just the employee.  
  • They won’t just know the names of children of their team members, but which dog is barking, which cats are likely to be social on our call and what online exercise classes their team completed before their 8.30 zoom tag ups begin!  
  • Whilst the world may feel like it has paused, not many organisations can afford to pause our on-going missions to secure the right talent around the leadership table! 

We are providing tailored on-boarding advice daily: 

One of our greatest value propositions is our ability to provide our clients with deep insight into what motivates and drives their new incumbents through our insightful psychometric and cultural preference tools. 

At present we are partnering with interested clients to provide objective on-boarding recommendations based on how an incumbent prefers to communicate and interact with others, the type of work environment in which they perform best, and what support will enable an optimal on-boarding experience. 

Together we’re exploring  ideal on-boarding experiences based on individual preferences for: 

  • Resilience
  • Interpersonal Sensitivity
  • Flexibility
  • Emotional Intelligence 
  • Ingenuity 
  • Achievement
  • Implementation, 
  • … along with many others 

To understand more about how we can maximise the on-boarding experience for your next Executive hire, know that Davidson is just a phone call away. 


Clare McCartin, Senior Partner, Davidson Executive & Boards