How to Build Up Your Leaders with New-Manager Onboarding

Roy Maurer By Roy Maurer June 30, 2021

​Managing people is one of the most challenging and stressful tasks in an organization, especially for someone new to a management role. That's why onboarding for new-manager success is incredibly important.   

Popular speaker Jennifer Currence, SHRM-SCP, the CEO of WithIN Leadership, will lead attendees through creating and delivering an onboarding experience for new managers that will help increase retention, engagement and profit. She will be presenting in person at the SHRM Talent Conference & Expo 2021 in Las Vegas, on Tuesday Aug. 24 at 11:30 a.m. Her session will also be available virtually.

Currence discussed with SHRM Online where companies typically fail at onboarding new leaders and how to design a successful new-manager onboarding program.

SHRM Online: Why is new-manager onboarding so important?

Currence: The effectiveness of managers can make or break a company. We are all familiar with the saying that we don't quit our job, we quit our managers. And when people quit, the cost to replace them takes a huge bite out of our company's profit. HR professionals who are savvy in their business acumen and critical evaluation competencies will do the math on how much turnover costs their company every year. Often, this number is ignored—yet so staggering—that bringing it to light will more than pay for the cost of a manager onboarding and training program. And if we add in the cost of absenteeism, presenteeism and poor productivity due to lack of engagement, all of which are directly impacted by managers, we're talking about a lot of money. Studies show that over half of managers fail within the first 18 months. So starting training early is of vital importance to an organization's ability to thrive.

SHRM Online: What is the biggest failing related to onboarding new managers?

Currence: Many companies, especially small to midsize businesses, have what I call a "hire and hope" strategy. They hire or promote a new manager into the organization and then just hope that they do a good job. When managers fail, there are two main reasons why: They fail to establish key relationships, and they fail to align with company culture.

Relationships are vital in any aspect of our lives, and especially as a manager, where we are responsible for the productivity and success of our team. So often, new managers are promoted into the position because they are technically sound, but they are not provided with the key leadership skills of emotional intelligence, delegating, coaching, providing feedback, holding a productive meeting or having a crucial conversation.

It's just as important to explain the corporate culture with new managers. I have yet to meet a person who is a perfectly effective mind reader. We need to provide clear expectations to our new managers what our core mission, vision and values are as a company.

SHRM Online: What are a couple of the most critical components to a successful manager onboarding program?

Currence: There are four key components to a successful onboarding program. A SHRM study calls them the 4 C's of onboarding: culture, connection, clarity and compliance.

We've already talked about the importance of culture and connection. The other two are just as important. Clarity is important in every job. A new manager must not only understand what is expected of her, but she must also understand how to be clear about what is expected of her employees. This involves a strong skill level of business acumen, communication and social awareness to ensure she knows what is required to do the job well, how to communicate it effectively and being certain that her subordinate fully understands what is expected.

Compliance in an onboarding scenario typically refers to documents such as W-4 and benefits paperwork, but with a new manager, it's much more. Leaders of your organization must understand legal compliance for federal and state laws to help the organization mitigate risk. Understanding the legal ramifications of not following Title VII, the ADEA [Age Discrimination in Employment Act] and the ADA [Americans with Disabilities Act], for example, affects all aspects of the employee life cycle—from what questions to ask in an interview to how to effectively manage performance.

[Want to learn more about new-manager onboarding? Join us at the SHRM Talent Conference & Expo 2021, taking place Aug. 22-25 in Las Vegas and virtually.]



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