Promoting an employee rather than bringing in an external hire can reap huge rewards, including lowered costs and improved engagement. However, just like new hires, promoted employees need clarity and ongoing support to thrive in a new role. That’s why you should have an ‘inboarding’ strategy.
Designing and delivering an effective onboarding process is one of the most crucial tasks placed on the shoulders of HR professionals. A new hire needs ample support to understand the intricacies of their responsibilities, the company culture and the working styles of their new colleagues, and finding the right way to provide that support is an ongoing mission.
However, one often overlooked form of onboarding is training and support for employees who have been promoted from within: a process known as ‘inboarding’. According to Mehtap Ozdemirci CPHR, Founder of Lock HR, inboarding a promoted employee is just as important as onboarding a new one.
“Organisations often miss this step, as they assume the individual knows everything,” she says.
“But to mitigate risks and truly [prepare] the individual for success, you should treat them similarly to how you’d treat an external hire.”
Getting the most out of internal promotions
With talent and skills shortages still taking their toll on businesses in a wide range of industries, turning to internal promotions and upskilling to fill in the gaps is an increasingly attractive option for employers.
Amid forecasts of economic instability, businesses might also be more inclined to promote internally to save on onboarding costs and help ensure the employee hits the ground running with minimal disruption to productivity.
“It takes time to develop a thorough understanding of the organisation, the industry, the client base etc. With an existing employee, you have the benefit of leveraging that information,” says Ozdemirci. “They will have a deeper understanding of what’s come before – learnings, wins and challenges – which can inform future projects.”
Internal promotions can also have a profound impact on company culture by demonstrating the commitment of the organisation to employee development, she says.
“Developing the career of an individual gives them more purpose, and they are more likely to be engaged. Promotions can also break down any silos and promote internal collaboration and communication efforts, since the employee already has that connection to the existing team.”
However, in order for organisations to reap the benefits of internal promotions, role clarity is paramount. Don’t assume that simply because the person has worked for the company for years that they’ll take to the role with minimal instruction. Without a strategic process for inboarding existing staff, HR risks pushing an employee into a role that’s not right for them – or losing them.
“Sometimes when we promote internally, we don’t run a robust recruitment campaign. This might mean that we don’t fully explore the motivation and whether the employee is the right fit.
“Businesses often fail to truly explain the role – the assumption is made that the internal candidate just gets it. But we need to make the daily realities of the role very clear so the internal candidate can make an informed decision.”
What should you include in an inboarding process?
There are a number of critical steps that employers should take in order to ensure that a promoted employee can prosper in their new role, says Ozdemirci.
Here are three considerations that she thinks should be included in an effective inboarding process.
1. A strategy to communicate role and performance expectations
Internal promotions are usually exempt from many aspects of the recruitment process, meaning that a promoted employee might not receive the same level of monitoring as a new hire who might be starting out on a probation period.
However, says Ozdemirci, it is equally important for a promoted employee to have regular check-ins to keep an eye on their performance and engagement to ensure that they are thriving in the new role.
She stresses the importance of communicating this strategy early to ensure the employee understands it’s for their benefit.
If the reasoning behind the inboarding measures are not made clear, the employee might feel they are being closely monitored due to a lack of faith on their employer’s part, or that they are being micromanaged.
2. An adapted induction process
Ozdemirci says that a well-thought-out induction process is crucial to manage risk, maintain consistency and bolster employee confidence, whether they are a new hire or have been promoted from within.
However, although HR tends to invest a lot of effort into onboarding, the inboarding process cannot be a copy-and-paste job; Ozdemirci says it needs to be adapted thoughtfully to suit the specific needs of the employee and the wider team.
“Businesses often fail to truly explain the role – the assumption is made that the internal candidate just gets it.” Mehtap Ozdemirci CPHR, Founder of Lock HR
There is a balance to be struck between making sure that the employee has all the information they need to know while not having to waste the valuable first few weeks of the job on unnecessary training and meetings.
3. Measures to help the employee adapt to new relationships with colleagues and stakeholders
Although a key benefit of promoting an employee from within is the existing relationships and connections they might have with their colleagues, this does not mean that they will not require support to foster the right relationships with the right people, especially if their new role requires them to step into a management position and potentially oversee the work of their former peers.
“Sometimes it’s hard to reinvent yourself within the organisation – there may already be some preconceived ideas within the business that an employee needs to overcome,” says Ozdemirci.
HR professionals can spearhead training and mentor opportunities to help newly promoted employees overcome nerves or impostor syndrome, and to understand how their new position might change some of their relationships (e.g. a new manager might need to be reminded that they might not necessarily get invited to out-of-hours social events with their colleagues as often).
As part of the inboarding process, Ozdemirci says employers should take the initiative to set up meet-and-greets for the promoted employee and their new team in both formal and informal settings, with a regular frequency that can be reduced over time.
“A new role represents change, new cohorts, new reporting lines, new relationships,” she says. A more formal process to facilitate support and building new connections is critical to build the confidence of the individual and the broader team.”
By adhering to these three principles and recognising the individual needs of promoted employees and their teams, HR can go a long way in ensuring the business can maximise the benefits of progressing existing employees to more senior roles.
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