By: Emily Bohill

Imagine that you’ve just bought an asset. It’s one of the biggest in your portfolio, and its performance could determine the success or failure of your fund. You’d be beginning to execute the business plan, appointing partners and advisors, and integrating it into your business as quickly as possible, wouldn’t you?

Unfortunately, many companies don’t treat new hires in the same way – almost a third of new senior executives didn’t feel that their new workplace helped them integrate into the organisation to even a basic standard. Whilst the mantra ‘our people are our biggest assets’ maybe doesn’t apply quite so strongly to an industry of skyscrapers and shopping centres as it does to others, onboarding plays a significant part of getting someone to perform to their potential, and research shows that a failed executive hire can cost the business up to $2.7m.

Employee onboarding is a crucial part of the hiring process – and should be much more than the admin meeting where a new joiner is given an entry pass to the office, their login details, and shown where the bathrooms are. This applies even more in the strange times we find ourselves in, where without the daily interactions in the office it can be all too easy to feel like you don’t belong. You can mitigate all this risk by applying a good onboarding procedure.

These are the key factors involved in getting it right:

Be prepared. How you manage the first few days will massively shape your new hire’s perceptions of the firm – get it right, and they’ll be much more likely to see things in a positive light for months or even years to come. Make sure that their IT systems are set up in advance, that you have a schedule lined up for them, and that people are prepared for any induction meetings. You don’t want their memories of the first day at your firm to be waiting around, filling in virtual paperwork, and being introduced to someone who is clearly wanting to get the meeting over and done with as quickly as possible to get back to their ‘real’ job.

Write things down. Make sure the way that you do things is codified. At the very least, this should include a guide to how your internal systems work and how the business operates. New hires don’t want their first interaction with their colleagues to be asking how the database works – let them look things up. Many successful firms (Bridgewater and Netflix are two famous examples) have taken this a step further, writing down the principles that guide them in every decision they take. Another advantage of having it all written down is that you can share this document before their first day, so they really feel prepared for working with you.

Help them build relationships. This doesn’t mean forced one on one sit-downs with no set agenda – every first conversation should have a purpose, whether that’s walking the new hire through a key process, telling the company story, or explaining how the board meetings work. Help them connect and build relationships with key stakeholders. This takes time but can be started during the recruitment process, well before the candidate actually starts.

Set clear targets. This should include some opportunities for ‘quick wins’ – making your organisation feel like a place where your new hire can ‘get things done’ will make them feel better about themselves and the firm, and also put them in a more positive light with the rest of your team. Agreeing on clear SMART (Specific, Measurable, Agreed, Attainable & Achievable, Realistic & Resourced and Time-bound) targets makes the new hire accountable, and gives them a greater sense of purpose. Consider having a coach to work with them and the senior leadership team to further ensure success for the business.

With all this in mind, and given the challenges posed by COVID-19, we at Bohill Partners have enhanced the support we give to our clients and candidates after an offer has been accepted. For more information on Bohill Partners onboarding or coaching services, please email us at

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