If You Want Your Managers to Be Successful, Onboard Them

Organizations expect a lot from managers. They need to hire the best employees then train and coach them for high performance. Managers are the key to employee engagement and retention. It’s a challenge and a huge responsibility. This doesn’t even include the requirements for the department or process they are managing.

However, few organizations give managers the prerequisite training and development they need to be successful. Sure, some organizations have management and leadership development programs. Those programs are very successful in giving managers the skills they need. In fact, I’d argue that the skills an employee gets during management and leadership development programs can be immediately put to good use by the employee. They don’t have to wait until they become a manager to use skills commonly found in management and leadership development programs like consensus building, problem-solving, and communication.

There is one activity though that’s missing – onboarding. Companies provide new hire employees both onboarding and training to ensure their success. It’s time to do the same for managers. When someone becomes a manager, they have new responsibilities beyond what's been provided in a management or leadership development program. Some examples include:

• Workforce management in terms of timekeeping and scheduling employees
• Employment laws like Family and Medical Leave (FMLA) or the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
• Onboarding employees who they’ve hired

Managers shouldn’t have to learn these new responsibilities on the fly. Or worst case, after they make a mistake. Companies can create a manager onboarding program that provides the information they need to know on day one, in the first month, and during the first quarter. The program doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive. It can include the following activities:

• Checklists (example: a new manager’s first day agenda)
• Short videos and how-to’s (i.e. how to request a manual payroll check for an employee)
• Meetings with departments like HR, payroll, etc. because these are functions a new manager will start interacting with more often.

The goal of a manager onboarding program is to give new managers the tools they need to be successful. The company has made the investment of hiring or promoting this individual into a management position. Now it’s time to support that decision with onboarding.
But there’s an even bigger reason to provide managers with a dedicated onboarding program. It has to do with their future.

Managers have one goal in the organization: to identify and train their replacement. Managers cannot get promoted if their replacement isn’t in the wings. Yes, it’s true - managers get promoted all the time without a replacement. But let’s face it, that promotion typically comes with some strings - meaning the new manager is stuck doing both their old job and new job until the replacement is found.

Managers that make it their goal to find and train their replacement learn how to hire the best talent, train employees for success, coach for enhanced performance, and delegate. They feel comfortable going on vacation or attending a conference without the department falling apart. They can take on that special project that will get senior leadership’s attention because the team knows what do to.

Managers who work toward the goal of finding their replacement aren’t making themselves dispensable. Quite the contrary. They’re making themselves promotable. But the only way that happens is by setting managers up for success. Start at the beginning with an onboarding program.