Marketing Executive Onboarding Can Make or Break Your New Role
Whether you’re the new CMO or the company hiring one, a positive marketing executive transition process is critical to long-term success. Winging it does not cut it at the C-suite level. You need a plan to hit the ground running and start making a positive impact in your new marketing executive role.
At every level of the organization, proper integration into the workplace is essential to success in the first three to six months. As a marketer, you already know that the dynamic nature of the industry adds a whole new level of complexity to the equation. Of course it goes without saying that the importance of a strategic integration process has become even more essential in today’s remote/hybrid working reality.
After the considerable time and effort of the executive search process have resulted in hiring the best person for the job (you!), it’s surprising how often new marketing leaders are left to figure out for themselves the nuances of the business and how they fit into it. After all, shouldn’t the head of marketing already know what needs to be done? Yes and no.
As skilled and experienced as you already are at marketing strategy, it takes more than a history of strong accomplishments to truly thrive in your new position. Equally important, if not more so, are the unknowns of the world you’re stepping into … the company culture born from years of history and habits, successes and failures, key player personalities and idiosyncrasies. Proper onboarding programs aim to minimize culture shock and have been proven to result in enhanced productivity, engagement and retention.
Practically all companies know that onboarding is important, and most assume they are handling this critical process adequately. Unfortunately, in too many instances, integration is an afterthought. The situation is often exacerbated by today’s remote/hybrid working environments, not to mention the continuing high rates of pandemic-era resignation.
- Executive transition is not the same as onboarding, which is a formal, agenda-driven orientation program
- Of those who fall short of their initial performance goals, 50% did not receive a formal onboarding process
- In 2020, voluntary turnover cost organizations over $630 billion
- Onboarding programs can improve employee retention by 25% and boost new hire performance by 11%
- Employees with good onboarding experiences are 18x more likely to feel highly committed to their companies
Take the Lead on Your Successful Onboarding and Integration
Ultimately, you must be prepared to define your own process and craft (or at least contribute to) an onboarding plan that best benefits yourself and your new employer.
You may be wondering what marketing executive onboarding should actually look like? Hint: it’s more than setting up a computer and sending out the requisite internal email introduction. It involves integration into the established company culture, establishment of clear expectations and performance goals, and comprehension of the unique dynamics of the organization.
8 Practical Tips to Taking Control of Your Marketing Executive Integration
- In the days or weeks before your official start date, read everything you can get your hands on about your new company. Check out the profiles of key players on LinkedIn, study the company website and social media accounts, and look into the industry market and competitors. Research SEC filings via the Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis and Retrieval System (EDGAR). This database provides financial information and operations of publicly traded companies.
- Prepare questions for every key player on the team. Carefully thought-out inquiries are key to creating a dialog with your new colleagues and establishing your level of commitment to the job. Solicit feedback from the C-suite, HR, various department heads and your marketing team.
- During your first few days and weeks, it can be easy to throw yourself into the responsibilities of the job, but make it a priority to venture out of your office and get to know the people around you. Strike up conversations with stakeholders at every level. Pay attention to details—professional or personal—that may serve you in future discussions. Take the opportunity to find out more about the person previously in your role. What was successful? What wasn’t? You may be surprised by what people will divulge in casual conversation, information that can work to your advantage. Resist the urge to talk too much about yourself. This is the time to build trust and demonstrate your listening skills.
- Set short-term actionable goals with timelines. Quick wins are essential to building confidence and momentum within your marketing team, as well as boosting your credibility with upper stakeholders. Be sure to get buy-in (preferably in writing) from the CEO to assure your ideas align with the company’s vision before further discussing with the executive team.
- Don’t neglect to make your achievements known. This should be approached carefully, so as not to come across as boastful. You know that braggy guy in the office? Don’t be that guy. Find the sweet spot between arrogance and confidence. Try positioning your accomplishment as a department or company success, giving others a share of the limelight. Show gratitude for being given the opportunity to take on an important challenge. Never promote your achievement as superior to another’s. Resist the urge to exaggerate—keep it short and sweet. Remember that less is more in this situation. As with most business communications, practicing what you’re going to say will always lead to a more effective and (oddly) spontaneous delivery.
- Set up regular meetings with the CHRO. This should be your go-to person for any questions or uncertainties regarding personalities, protocols, expectations and culture. These specialized professionals are the eyes and ears of your organization. Use them.
- Now that you’re on the inside … read everything you can get your hands on. Internal documents, proposals, annual reports, case studies, financial statements, previous marketing collateral, campaign and data analytics—anything that could contribute to your foundational understanding of the business.
Starting an executive marketing role is both exciting and stressful. It goes without saying that you will be beyond busy in the first months with the demands of your new position. You’ll have to carve out time to integrate these suggestions into your overall job strategy, but it will be time well spent.
Remember that executive onboarding is an ongoing process. There is no set of rules or rigid timeline. CHROs estimate it takes three to six months for a new executive to get “up to speed.” So, whether your company has an extensive onboarding process or none at all, take control of your success. Keep these guidelines in mind and seize every opportunity to prove your worth and set the stage for a long and prosperous career with your new company.
MarketPro Inc. is the leading high-end marketing executive search firm delivering top-performing innovative marketers. As a team of former marketing professionals, we are uniquely qualified to separate A players from everyone else. Celebrating our 26th year, we are a certified woman-owned business with headquarters in Atlanta and clients nationwide.