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Why you should onboard new managers like new employees

November 17, 2020 Developing Managers

HR leaders are aware of the importance of onboarding new employees. Giving new hires the time and space to ramp up in their new roles, ask questions, and understand job expectations are critical to their success. In fact, research shows that a strong onboarding program can improve retention by 82% and productivity by 70%.

Unfortunately, this approach is rarely applied to first-time managers – even though they’re essentially starting a new job given the number of additional skills, responsibilities, and knowledge they have to acquire. That’s likely why 70% of senior leaders are only somewhat or not satisfied at all with the performance of their frontline leaders. In this post, we’ll take you through a five-step onboarding process that will set your new managers up for success. 

5 steps for the new manager onboarding process 

Below, we outlined five steps to help first-time managers ramp up more efficiently in their roles. Keep in mind that these suggested steps are focused on onboarding newly promoted managers – not managers who were recently hired from outside the company. 

Step 1: Welcome managers to their new role 

Being promoted to a manager is a big deal! You want managers to step into their new roles feeling energetic and enthusiastic – instead of feeling like they’re in the same old job with more responsibilities. That’s why we encourage HR teams to find ways to make their managers feel excited about their new role – even if they’ve been with the company for a long time. 

There are many creative ways to accomplish this while remote. Make a public announcement of all the newly promoted managers. This is a great way to recognize their accomplishment, while also keeping the rest of the organization in the loop about management changes. Similarly, you can encourage employees to send the new managers notes of congratulations via email or Slack. If you want to take it one step further, send new managers a small present – such as a restaurant gift card – so they can celebrate the promotion with family members over their favorite takeout meal. 

Step 2: Host an orientation session 

An orientation session serves the same purpose for new managers as they do for new hires. It’s an opportunity to provide them with information around job expectations, available resources and tools, and an overview of skills they’ll need to develop over the next few months or years. If you’re not sure what types of resources to provide during this orientation session, here are a few ideas to get you started: 

  • An overview of expectations for the next 30, 60, and 90 days
  • A presentation that provides an in-depth look at the managerial culture of the organization, expectations of managers, and additional skills that need to be learned
  • A list of available new manager resources, such as training modules and Slack channels 
  • A recommended reading list (if you need inspiration, check out our recommended list of leadership books)

Step 3: Encourage relationship-building with the team

Regardless of whether a first-time manager is joining a new team or staying with their existing team, they need to invest in relationship-building with their colleagues and direct reports. This is an opportunity for new managers to understand the needs of their team and start the manager-employee relationship off on the right foot. 

There are several ways that HR teams can encourage relationship-building between managers and teams. If you have a tool like Donut, you can set people up on one-on-one virtual “coffee meetings.” You can also sponsor virtual team-building activities – such as a cooking class or a fun bingo night – to give your managers an opportunity to spend time with their employees. 

Step 4: Provide a personalized learning path

Manager training shouldn’t be a one-size-fits-all program. HR teams should help each manager craft a self-paced learning path that makes sense to their needs and offers a wide array of resources – from leadership assessments to 360-degree feedback – to meet the needs of their first-time managers.


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For example, some managers may feel nervous about giving performance reviews or constructive feedback, while others are more concerned about time management. Letting managers choose the areas they want to prioritize can help them better succeed in their roles. 

Step 5: Set managers up for continued success 

Just because the “official” onboarding is over doesn’t mean you should leave managers to fend for themselves. Instead, have programs in place to ensure their continued success. Here are a few examples of resources you can provide to make sure your new managers are being supported – even after the onboarding process: 

  • Ongoing manager-specific training and education 
  • Mentoring and coaching programs 
  • Manager-specific Slack channels or online communities
  • Opportunities for growth, such as a budget for online courses or the ability to rotate through new projects 

Take the time to invest in the success of your new managers with a formalized onboarding process. With a platform like Torch, you can create a standard new manager onboarding path and personalized paths based on the individual needs of your employees. 

If you want to learn additional ways to better support your new managers, download our ebook How To Effectively Train New Managers At Scale.