Take These 3 Steps to Start a Manager Onboarding Program

Today’s post comes to us courtesy of Workforce Institute Board member and HR Bartender Sharlyn Lauby.  To learn more about this topic, check out Sharlyn’s book, Manager Onboarding: 5 Steps for Setting New Leaders Up for Success. 

Managers have one job – to find and train their replacement.

When managers are focused on that one job, they hire the best employees, train them for success, coach them for high performance, and make retention a priority. Because of that, they can take a vacation or attend a conference with confidence, knowing that the department isn’t going to fall apart in their absence. Managers who are focused on their one job can participate in the CEO’s super-secret special project that will allow them to learn new skills and collaborate with new colleagues. They can do cool stuff that will enhance their careers.

Managers who focus on finding and training their replacement aren’t dispensable. In fact, they’re promotable. And, organizations that want managers who will hire, train, and retain the best talent need to set those managers up for success. Starting on day number one.

Unfortunately, many organizations tend to hire or promote the most technically competent person into management. The new manager gets training on-the-job, which isn’t bad. On-the-job training can be very valuable. But too often, on-the-job training happens after the new manager makes a mistake. A mistake that could have been avoided if the new manager had received proper training and guidance in the first place.

One way to give a new manager the tools they need for success is with onboarding. Think about it – companies currently provide onboarding to new hire employees. Why not onboard new managers?

And this isn’t the same as management training or leadership development. Those programs offer skills that employees can use immediately like communication skills, decision-making, and problem-solving. Manager onboarding programs include skills that managers need the minute they become a manager such as workforce management and employment law. There’s a place for all of these programs.

Here are three steps to get started with creating a manager onboarding program:

  1. Interview the current management team. Talk with managers about their experience of becoming a manager. Did they receive enough training and support? What was missing? Not only will you get valuable information, but you can start creating buy-in for the program.
  2. Assess what knowledge and skills are being offered. And when. Once you’ve collected information from current managers, compare that to what the organization is offering in terms of training and development. Also look at when it’s being offered. Is it too late OR too early (and managers forget it)?
  3. Start creating programs that address the gaps. It’s possible that companies can shift when managers are receiving information, so they are trained at just the right time. If a topic isn’t being offered, companies can consider setting up training programs or mentoring to help the new manager.

According to Gallup, seventy percent (70%) of the variance in employee engagement is attributed to managers. Organizations concerned about productivity and retention will want to make sure that managers are well equipped to handle their role. Because it impacts the bottom-line.

One thought on “Take These 3 Steps to Start a Manager Onboarding Program

  1. I think it’s even more important to onboard managers than it is to onboard individual contributors (due to the impact and influence managers will have on the organization.)

    In addition to interviewing the current management team (and I’m assuming the author means within the new manager’s organization), I suggest interviewing managers who consume the services of your (new manager) organization, too. Seeing (and hearing) how your group is perceived from the outside will be beneficial.

    If no one is running brown bag lunches sharing the Why, How and When of effective communication, collaboration, listening, planning, mentoring, coaching, servant-leadership, etc. the new manager should consider taking this on: Will accelerate acclimatization to the new organization and develop new (or bolster existing) skills and insight, too.

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