Onboard Like a CEO: 6 Strategies from the Corner Office that Will Engage and Develop Your New Hires – Part 1 of 3 installments of this series



Onboard new hires like a CEO? What would an “executive onboarding experience” look like and how could it impact your new hires’ engagement levels? Per Gallup, 88% of employees don’t think their current organization is good at onboarding and 76% of HR professionals don’t think they are doing a good job at onboarding employees. Robust onboarding addresses organizational challenges–attracting top talent, increasing engagement, boosting productivity, and reducing high turnover.

Here are six strategies borrowed from executive onboarding that you can implement immediately to quickly build organizational knowledge and key relationships and deliver timely feedback to adjust and avoid negative turnover.

Employees at all levels are dissatisfied with their onboarding experiences, and the cost of replacing them has never been higher; however, there are some “bright spots” of best practices that tend to show up for the highest-level leaders, like CEOs.

 Audrey Jarre, Head of Learning at 306Learning, put it plainly:

“A mere 12% of employees agree their organization does a good job of onboarding new employees. What’s more, if your organization isn’t among the ones that get onboarding right, it’s likely your new hires will be hunting for new jobs before you can say pro-ba-tion.”

We are not suggesting that all components of senior leader onboarding translate to the rest of the population, but here are some scalable strategies.

Strategy #1: Make it personal.

No CEO or senior leader would appreciate a generic onboarding experience, so why put your new hires through one?  Try one or all of the following to make your new hires feel welcomed and expected:

  • Create customized and personal welcome messages from the hiring manager, recruiter, and colleagues.
    • Use videos, texts, social media, and emails to connect 1:1.
  • Gifts, ”swag”,  or treats are low-cost and still appreciated!
  • Invitations to lunch, coffee, or dinner can really cement a new hire’s decision to join your organization.
  • The workspace, computer, email address, or bios on the internal directory are also places where new hires’ experience can be personalized.
  • Always leverage any organizational assessments and find fun ways to have new hires and current team members share their profiles (i.e., CliftonStrengths, DiSC, MBTI, etc.).


We worked with a client to create a virtual tour of their offices narrated by the CEO so that the new hires would have some familiarity with the environment before Day One. The video was on the new hire onboarding portal that we helped them create.  The “tour” was a fun, unexpected extra feature added to what the new hires need to know in the pre-start phase of onboarding; and some new hires watched it several times, even sharing it with friends and family members. The portal also allowed the manager to add a personal welcome message which she simply recorded from her phone and uploaded to the site. These personal touches helped the organization’s employment brand stand out and kept new hires engaged and excited before they ever walked into the building.

 Strategy #2: Don’t use a firehose approach.

Too often, new hires are inundated with tasks, training, and meetings in the first weeks which makes it difficult for them to really absorb the knowledge they need.  They forget who they met with during the first week and can miss key onboarding information if it is not clear how it is attached to their roles.

Use these tips to combat the “firehose” approach:

  • Create a relevant briefing packet.
    • Leverage articles, presentations, and internal communications that have been created or shared since the new hire accepted the job.
  • Collaborate with the hiring manager and HR partner to create realistic onboarding objectives and a customized action plan.
  • Schedule onboarding meetings with the manager and HR partner for at least six months.
  • Provide access to systems and training close to the time when the new hire will use them.
  • Communicate to the team/organization the purpose of the new hire’s role and expectations.
  • Do not schedule all the “meet and greets” in the first month.


Our client, Mark, benefitted from this approach when we helped his manager and HR partner build a realistic onboarding plan with “meet-and-greet” meetings that supported his plan’s objectives and timing.

An example was that he met 1:1 with other functional heads who helped him understand how the company measures success, how they make decisions, and how long he was “allowed to be new” in this organization.

Cultural learning during the first weeks on the job is priceless and this approach avoids early burn-out and costly missteps.  If new hires are bombarded early with meetings, presentations, and deliverables, they can often miss the most important onboarding lessons.

This is Part 1 of 3 installments of our series, “Onboard Like a CEO: 6 Strategies from the Corner Office that Will Engage and Develop Your New Hires. Read about the next two strategies in an upcoming issue.

Our team-connect Survey Process


We start with thoughtfully diagnosing the team’s current culture by using available data, assessments and interviews.

This provides the team leader with a clear view of what is getting in the way of the team’s success.

We design a series of structured team sessions that:

  • Share the team culture analysis
  • Give team members the opportunity to talk through both processes and behaviors that need to be addressed
  • Productively provide feedback to one another
  • Develop both team and individual commitments that will lead to the team’s desired state


Measure progress by leveraging CTD’s team-connect Survey to:

  • Drive accountability and measure progress by collecting team feedback specific to one another’s engagement and behavioral change
  • Provide the team’s leader with a clear understanding of what he/she and the team need from each other to enable and support the team’s success
  • Share team and individual survey result reports