Hiring mistakes can be costly in terms of employee morale, project delays, severance costs and additional hiring costs.
While the cost of employee turnover varies widely by industry and job type, studies by the American Management Association and others report a range between 25% and 250% of annual salary per separating employee, with higher level, more skilled management employees pushing the upper edges of that range.
I recently had to part ways with a senior member of my team after only a month on the job. He was the wrong fit for many reasons, but mostly because I’d rushed to fill the position. I was so eager to fill the position I ignored my reservations and made the offer. As a manager you will make hiring mistakes when filling a position becomes more important than the person you hire. I certainly did.
What puzzled me most was that this senior executive didn’t execute even the most basic onboarding success strategies in the four weeks he spent with us. If he’d done these things, he might still have his job.
What should you do to successfully onboard at a company at a senior level?
Here are some recommendations:
- Check your ego at the door and keep the ‘been there–done it before” attitude under wraps. You may have truly been there and done it, but that doesn’t mean the new work environment won’t have its own ‘flavor of the day’ that will require you to dream up unique solutions.
- In your early days on the job, dig into the nits and grits of the business you’re running. Roll up your sleeves. Get your hands dirty. Build your own understanding of your department, function, and areas from the bottom up.
- Spend one on one time with key team members – top to bottom and listen to what they have to say. Assume everyone you meet is a potential teacher. Be humble.
- Ask questions. Lots of questions. Big strategic questions. Small procedural ones. Be curious.
- Venture out beyond the confines of your office or the executive floor. If you team is remote, visit them. Learn people’s names, their faces, a little bit about them – beyond just your administrative assistant and your direct reports. Know who’s who and who’s doing what. Observe.
- If your boss gives you advice/suggestions, take them seriously. Implement them as best you can if they make sense. They are windows into your boss’s thinking and expectations of you. If they don’t make sense, then circle back and have that conversation with your new boss. The first few months are a get to know period – so expect a lot of back and forth.
- Take notes on your findings, your conclusions and possible solutions. You should be building your plans for your areas from the moment you step in the door, defining your value add in this new role along the way.
- Be honest – with yourself, your people, your boss. Make it one of the hallmarks of your operating style.
If you follow these steps, you can improve your chances of holding onto your senior position long enough to add value and become a hiring success story – a “keeper.”