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Manager Onboarding: A Q & A with Sharlyn Lauby

Manager onboarding by sharlyn laby.

Promoting someone to management and not setting him or her up for success is one of the worst mistakes an organization can make, says Sharlyn Lauby, SHRM-SCP, author of Manager Onboarding: 5 Steps for Setting New Leaders Up for Success (SHRM, 2016). Lauby presented a session on the topic of manager onboarding at the Society for Human Resource Management's 2017 Talent Management Conference & Exposition, which ends today in Chicago.

While leadership and management development programs give new managers some of the guidance they need to accomplish organizational goals, an effective onboarding program can do even more to accelerate their transition, Lauby explains. An author, writer, speaker and consultant as well as president of ITM Group Inc., a consulting firm in Weston, Fla., that focuses on developing training solutions, Lauby is well-known for her work as a blogger on HR Bartender.

She recently spoke with HR Magazine's Book Blog about her book.

Why do managers need their own onboarding program?

Managers play a huge role in organizational success. We've all heard that adage "Employees don't leave companies; they leave managers." Well, it's true. According to Gallup, managers account for 70 percent of the variance in employee engagement.

Companies often promote new managers based on technical ability to do the job. But that doesn't mean they can manage other employees. So, the worst thing companies can do is hire or promote a manager and not give them the tools for success. When we hire employees, we provide orientation and onboarding. Companies should do the same for managers.

How can manager onboarding support organizational goals such as succession planning and internal promotions?

Manager onboarding is different from management and leadership development programs. Those development programs are essential for skills and knowledge building. The good thing is that what is learned in those programs can be immediately applied in the workplace.

Manager onboarding supports those development programs by offering the knowledge and skills a new manager needs at the time they need it.

Organizations can develop their replacement and succession planning models in a way that allows employees to gain skills and knowledge prior to becoming a new manager—and feel confident that, once an employee is promoted into a management position, they will receive the training they need to be successful.

What metrics can HR use to evaluate an onboarding program?

When evaluating your manager onboarding program, there are two types of evaluations to consider: quantitative and qualitative.

Quantitative methods include the Kirkpatrick model (great if you're doing a manager orientation program), turnover rates (as a way to reduce manager turnover) and cost-per-hire (better retention hopefully leads to a lower cost-per-hire).

Qualitative methods include focus groups (get new managers together to talk about their experiences) and stay interviews (find out what makes good managers stay with the company).

I know there's a lot of conversation about HR professionals knowing the numbers, and I totally agree with that. But when HR can attach the numbers to a story, I think it's very powerful. And people will remember it.

Can you briefly summarize the five tips you recommend for developing an effective managerial onboarding program?

Here are five things to remember when creating a manager onboarding program:

  1. Don't skip conducting an organizational assessment. You might be surprised by what you discover.
  2. Use a systemic approach for developing content materials. Personally, I like the ADDIE model, but use what you like best. It will show in the results.
  3. Get buy-in from existing managers. Consider using them as a pilot group.
  4. Start small and grow the program over time. A phased implementation strategy works well.
  5. Let program evaluations drive future iterations of the program.

What's your next book, and when will it be out?

Thanks for asking! I'm currently working on a book about recruiting titled The Recruiter's Handbook: How to Source, Select, and Engage the Best Talent. It will be a one-stop resource for people involved in the recruiting function. Look for it to come out in the fall.

Desda Moss is managing editor of HR Magazine.


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