How to Determine if New Manager Training is the Right Solution

Step 1: Establish Collaborative Relationships with Senior Management

This needs to start long before trying to pitch senior management with a program—manager onboarding or otherwise. It is not—let me repeat—it's not a quest for the "seat at the table." Establishing a collaborative relationship means being able to work with others to accomplish the organization's goals.

Building relationships with senior management isn't hard. But it does involve two things. First, it involves speaking in the other person's language. In the case of senior management, that probably translates to using business acumen.

Step 2: Pay Attention to the Business Problem

If we have good working relationships with others, they will come to us with their problems. None of us likes to admit we are having a challenge. That's why human resources must build relationships with managers. HR cannot be perceived as being judgmental. It needs to be perceived as a solutions provider. It goes back to the consulting approach: Consultants aren't there to judge. They are there are fix problems. In Step 1, we build relationships with managers. In Step 2, we put ourselves in the position of being a solutions provider. I'm sure you will recognize some of these reasons, but here are the more common situations in which a manager might look for guidance from HR:

Employees that aren't a good fit. You've heard the stories too. Employees who aren't performing to standard, or they just don't fit with the organization. The manager wants to make a change. Now granted, some of those situations are completely legitimate, but in some cases, the solution isn't to terminate the employee. It's to coach the employee. HR can help the manager plan the proper course of action.

Building, borrowing, or buying talent. As recruiting becomes more challenging, organizations will have to ask themselves whether they want to develop talent internally (build), engage consultants or freelancers (borrow), or hire talent from the outside (buy). This is a strategic decision, and managers will be looking to HR to help them understand the talent landscape.

Transitioning from friend to manager. One of the things that companies like to do is show employees they promote from within. It sends the message that hard work is recognized and rewarded. For the employee, though, moving from friend and co-worker to manager can be a big challenge. It's not only a challenge for the new manager but also for the employees—both those employees that the manager is now supervising and the manager's new peer group.

Knowledge management and delegation. As Baby Boomer managers plan their exit strategies into retirement, organizations need to put plans in place to transfer existing knowledge and create a smooth transition for everyone involved. HR needs to play a role in developing a global strategy that will meet the needs of the organization. Finally, managers need to delegate effectively and empower employees so they can learn.

Mergers and acquisitions. Organizations will continue to merge, acquire other entities, and split divisions. Those business activities will create manager positions and possibly even eliminate manager positions. Human resources will be involved in those decisions, redesign the organizational structure, and redefine goals, policies, and procedures.

Unexpected departures (or death). I know this topic is depressing, but it's a reality we have to deal with. A manager that the company thought would never leave comes in one day and resigns. Or announces his or her retirement. A manager has a heart attack over the weekend. Or a fatal accident. The company must figure out how the business will operate without that individual.

Again, these are just a few of the most common situations. The goal wasn't to create an exhaustive list of situations but instead to get us thinking about those times when we want managers to bring human resources into the decision-making process. Managers will bring us into the loop if they feel comfortable coming to HR and confident HR will help them solve their problems.

Step 3: Solve Problems So They Stay Solved

The manager relationships are solid. The challenges are clearly identified. HR is getting involved in the issues where it can have an impact. This is the step in which we use our HR knowledge to solve the problem, not to put a bandage on it.

At this step in the process, we're not doing an assessment. We need to convince the organization that an assessment is the next logical step. Whereas most of the time, we want employees to come to us with both the problem and the solution, at times it makes sense to let a thorough assessment tell us the answer. If you've ever had senior managers come into your office and tell you both the problem and their proposed solution, you know how difficult it can be to talk them out of their proposed solution and into yours. Not impossible, just a lot of hard work—energy that could be spent doing a proper assessment.

From Sharlyn Lauby, Manager Onboarding: 5 Steps for Setting New Leaders Up for Success<​> (SHRM, 2016).



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