Imagine that the remote recruitment was successful. As of next week, you have a new leader on board. You hired her/him to lead the transformation before the crisis began. But now she/he joins remotely after a successful recruitment process and inherits a remote team. Her/his short-term urgent priorities are very different from what they seemed to be before the Covid-19 pandemic. How can you make her/his onboarding productive as her/his manager? What can you do to support her and make her a success rather than a failure
Be crystal clear about short-term goals.
Like any leader in transition, he or she must learn quickly how to create value, and this is even more important in times of crisis. In particular, make sure the candidate's role and goals are clear from the start. For example, if you were recruiting online to find someone specifically to help with crisis management - let them know that this will include downsizing. But if you hired someone before the crisis, as in the case of a new supply chain leader, they need to understand their role at a much faster pace. Continuing with this example, make it clear in the onboarding process what aspects of the original role are a priority and what has changed due to the need to deal with immediate disruptions - preferably before the new leader starts.
Ensure a structured learning process.
To accelerate the learning process in a virtual context, you need to provide information in a more structured manner. This requires paying more attention to what you put in your initial "document dump": organizational charts, financial statements, strategic and project documentation, and an up-to-date crisis response plan. In a recent Savannah Group survey of 200 senior managers, 95% said that having access to this information made them more effective in the first few weeks, especially if the organization asked them in advance what would be most valuable. Beyond that, you need to help new employees get a broader and deeper picture of the organization and their role within it. Virtual briefings can be scheduled for the new supply chain leader on critical issues with the existing system and its challenges, as well as on culture, planning and decision-making processes. When remote recruitment takes place - all subsequent processes should already be planned.
Onboarding - a remote process - build a (more) robust stakeholder engagement plan.
Remote recruitment passed, what's next? The next step and the next priority is to help new employees identify, understand and build relationships with key stakeholders. When onboarding is virtual, it's important to be even more detailed and structured here as well. Start by having a conversation, an internal consensus on who the new leader's key stakeholders are and, most importantly, the order in which the new leader should meet with them; these things are often not apparent to new employees themselves. For the new leader, there may be single-level people in finance and operations whose support will be crucial. Once the key stakeholders have been identified, reach out to them and align them with the goals you have set for the new leader; this will maximize the value of their meetings.
Assign a virtual buddy on board.
Quite a few companies have built buddy systems (buddies) into their pre-crisis processes related to the "onboarding" issue. And for new managers entering remote work organizations, a buddy is essential.
Good buddies play four key roles. (1) They help orient new employees to the business and its context. (2) They facilitate connections with people whose support is essential or helpful. (3) They help navigate processes and systems. (4) They accelerate acculturation by providing insight into "how things are done here."
Of course, you must take care to select buddies who have the time, skills and inclination to help, and you must let them know how they can be most helpful. Typically, they should not be in the new leader's chain of command. This means they should be peers or others who have the understanding of the "big picture" necessary to be able to really help. For a new leader emerging from remote recruitment in the supply chain, a peer in operations may be a good choice.
Facilitating virtual team building.
Helpful in face-to-face situations, the process of assimilating a new leader is essential. When remote onboarding takes place, it's another huge challenge - just like remote recruitment before it. It is a structured process of compliance and connection between the leader and the team he or she inherits. The facilitator asks the leader and team members questions to discover what they would most like to share and learn about each other. The facilitator summarizes the insights gained and uses them to guide the conversation between the leader and the team. The good news is that this process can be done effectively via video conferencing.
Remote trainer recruitment - a step to think about.
Long before the crisis, studies showed that coaching with transition acceleration cuts time in half. What kind of time? Obviously, the time needed for new executives to become fully effective in their roles. In fact - you, your team and the new leader's team are coping with the stress of responding to new challenges. For example: remote recruitment, onboarding or crisis. Transition coaches can be especially important now. They are especially helpful when they understand the organization, company culture and stakeholder environment. Associates and coaches play a complementary role. That is, they advise new leaders on the challenges they face and provide a safe space in which to discuss them.
While following these guidelines, it is important to remember that remote recruitment alone is not enough. In truth, effective virtual onboarding does not just mean helping external employees. Remote recruiting, remote working, onboarding - these issues are huge challenges for employees at both the lower and top levels. Employees making internal moves in an organization working remotely can face challenges. Against the odds that are just as difficult if not more difficult than those faced by new leaders.