Do as I do: The importance of senior leadership during onboarding

Most onboarding efforts are led by middle management - here's why senior leadership matters when looking to deliver maximum results during onboarding.

Human Acceleration

Here’s a common business scenario; an organisation is ready to take the leap into digital disruption and introduce a new platform to assist with efficiency and communication. In short, they are ready to embark on their Saas journey. Yet, if a company invests in a system and onboarding, but do not invest in the adoption of the system, they will most likely not see a strong return on investment. More often than not, success depends on middle management, along with the deployment consultant, to take the lead in ensuring the company’s adoption of the new platform. 

But is leaving success in the hands of a motivated minority the best way to ensure adoption success? We take a look at the benefits of introducing senior leadership as part of a successful onboarding process that will drive long-lasting change.

Why leadership involvement matters

It goes without saying that having a senior leader will bring incentive and vision of a new system during onboarding. This involvement is pivotal as it shows teams that their leadership team has a vision of how the new system will improve the organisation. More importantly, senior leaders are more experienced in contextualising this vision and are able to convey the importance of the role individuals play in the success of the new platform or system. 

Another important aspect that drives onboarding success is accountability. Whenever senior leaders sponsor and drive the onboarding process, they signal commitment and accountability to their whole team. especially if the team need to report to the executive during onboarding.

An often overlooked benefit of senior leadership involvement is their ability to take quick and actionable steps to resolve any discrepancies or issues during onboarding. For example, if an organisation has adopted a new platform for communication, but communication outside of the platform is taking place, this behaviour can increase and spread throughout the organisation if it is not addressed. It is natural for people to want to revert to familiar behaviours. This would be an opportunity for a senior leader to demonstrate the change they wish to see in an organization and lead by example. 

However, it is important to note that if leadership fails to embody the new behaviours and demonstrate the change to their teams, this failure often leads to the problematic “do what I say, not what I do” situation. This failure to lead and failing to adopt the changes that come along with a system often leads to disheartened teams that also increases doubt around the new system’s value.

Follow the leader

While it’s often the case that senior leaders within organizations are not part of the onboarding and change management process, we are able to glean some insights from those few instances where they are.

According to Senior WNDYR Deployment Consultant Alessandra Conca, senior members who do take part in their team’s onboarding and change management process generally have an appetite for technology as well as a personal interest in learning about new technologies. 

Their professional interest in reaching certain objectives for the organization, whether it is clarity, KPI’s or accessing the information they have never had before, is also a contributing factor, according to Conca. 

The size of the organization also plays a role in senior leadership involvement. If an organization is smaller but happens to have a big initiative for change, chances are that an executive will be part of the onboarding process. However, if the initiative for change is smaller and the organization is bigger, it is more likely that executive leadership won’t be involved and headed by mid-management. Of course, the irony here is that it is more vital for larger organizations to have strong leadership involvement during the onboarding process.

Setting teams up for success

We have discussed that one should not underestimate change management and be prepared as a team at the outset of any deployment or onboarding process. Before commencing with deployment, it is vital for leadership to establish targets and ensure that everyone on their team understands these objectives. It is worth noting that while these objectives may change, you and your team will have targets to benchmark against. 

These benchmarks should not be tied to any platform or system, but should be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound) objectives that inform the purpose of the system. As always, if your team isn’t sure what you would like to achieve, there’s a good chance you also won’t know what you should track against.

Be the change: Our advice to leadership

If senior leadership do not take the time to prioritize onboarding, they potentially signal that these new systems are not a priority for them. This approach is dangerous; if the changes are not seen as being important by leadership, it very likely that it won’t be a priority for anyone else in the organisation either. As an executive, one needs to be the change one wants to see in one’s company. 

Are you a leader looking for onboarding and change management solutions that WORK? For more information on how WNDYR can help you rethink the way your organisation does onboarding, contact Prasoon Ranjan, our Vice President of Customer Success, to find out more.

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