How to Customize Onboarding for Promoted Employees and Rising Stars

How to Customize Onboarding for Promoted Employees and Rising Stars

The best onboarding programs combine general best practices with practices that are customized for the individual needs of the particular employee.

To show you how practices can be customized, let’s look at how you might customize onboarding for promoted employees and rising stars to help both groups maximize their short- and long-term success in your organization.

Onboarding Promoted Employees

One of the most neglected transitions is that of newly promoted employees. Perhaps nobody needs more help with a transition than people who have just been promoted from individual contributor or lower-level supervisory roles to management or leadership roles. Yet only 18% of organizations include promoted employees and internal transitions in their formal onboarding processes.

Perhaps it’s no wonder that a whopping 40 percent of new leaders fail within the first 18 months, with half having been promoted from within. 

How do you effectively customize onboarding for a promoted employee? By covering key areas important for his or her transition and long-term success in the new role, including these 12 key points:

  1. How the new role is defined. Ideally, a discussion of both how the employee views the role and how his or her manager views the role occurs.
  2. Tips for transitioning from the field to the home office, if applicable.
  3. The assumptions workers make about people who are promoted, and strategies the promoted employee can use to address them.
  4. The importance of asking questions and listening before making decisions and suggestions for making changes.
  5. Learning and development opportunities and resources that will help the promoted employee succeed.
  6. How the promoted employee’s manager can be a valuable resource for the unique challenges bound to arise in the role.
  7. How the employee’s manager, HR partner, and possibly other trusted leaders can provide guidance on your company’s leadership style.
  8. Other tips for getting up to speed in the role quickly, including observing others in meetings and daily interactions, asking questions, and soliciting feedback about their behaviors and work outputs from trusted colleagues.
  9. How relationships in the new role will be different from relationships in the promoted employee’s former role. For example, there will be new people to get to know, and there will be people with whom the employee will need to create a different type of relationship.
  10. The implications of having former peers now being direct reports, and how this requires a shift in thinking and beginning new types of relationships.
  11. The expectations for the role, and how those expectations will be measured.
  12. The promoted employee’s key two or three deliverables in the first 90 days.

Onboarding Rising Stars

Given their potential future value to your organization, rising stars are among the most important groups to onboard effectively. Special areas to cover in a rising star’s onboarding include these six key points:

  1. Expressing commitment to the employee’s career development—and discuss how the onboarding plan is the first step.
  2. Discuss the employee’s goals, and how the onboarding plan is designed to support those goals.
  3. Help the rising star identify people who can help him or her get up to speed with specific job tasks, and people who can introduce the employee to the culture.
  4. Discussing the reason the rising star was hired for the role.
  5. The short-term plan (define what the “short term” is if possible) for the employee in the role.
  6. Your interest in the employee’s thoughts about how he or she wants to grow and contribute to the organization.

For an employee who knows that he or she has been identified as “high potential,” also discuss the importance of these four points:

  1. Being committed to the role and the function. Express the importance of not giving the impression that the role is just “another step along the way” in his or her career path.
  2. Building relationships with his or her manager and peers, so that not only will the high potential will be ready if and when the next move becomes available, but others will support the rising star’s move.
  3. Not taking relationships for granted.
  4. Taking advantage of every learning opportunity.

Other Customized Onboarding Opportunities

Onboarding can be customized for a variety of groups. For example, onboarding can be customized for different generations (baby boomers, Gen X, Gen Y), for experienced hires, and for new leaders.

What’s important is to take the time to customize onboarding for each employee’s transition needs. It’s a great way to set up employees to have success in your organization.

To learn more about great onboarding, read the book “Perfect Phrases for New Employee Orientation and Onboarding,” written by our managing directors, Brenda Hampel and Erika Lamont.