Orienting Your Managers for Success

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

A manager can literally make or break a direct report’s engagement and success on the job. So, for effective employees, make sure your managers are given the knowledge, tools, and resources to do their jobs well. And this starts on day one.

Developing New Managers: Key Elements for Success, an ATD research report, found that new managers don't appear to be getting the support they need when they need it. Specifically, the report revealed that most organizations delay training for new managers until after they've already begun managing.

Given managers’ unique role in their organizations, they need orientation to be successful. Talent development professionals can use the ADDIE model (or a similar model that they’re comfortable with) to create a manager orientation program. In “Orient Managers for Career Success,” Sharlyn Lauby explains how.

Laying the Groundwork for Manager Orientation (or the Analysis Part)

Management can mean different things in different organizations. Do managers have a budget, for example? Or are they leads on multiple projects? In your organization, does managerial mean having direct reports? It’s critical for the talent development team to understand this when the team is designing the manager orientation program.

Solicit input from an array of relevant parties—leaders, managers, direct reports—across the organization to find out the words that come to mind for them when they hear “manager.” Once you’ve come up with a definition, ensure that job descriptions match those expectations and beliefs about the manager role.


Designing the Manager Orientation Program (the Design and Development Part)

Once you understand managers, you can begin to design the manager orientation program. As a talent development professional, especially if you’re in HR, use the program as an opportunity to begin to develop a relationship built upon trust with your managers.

During the program, talent development professionals should remember to relay to new managers how the program will help them in their new role—the “what’s in it for me.” Use adult learning principles to bring real-life examples—such as organizational-specific challenges or team culture dynamics—into the program. And, to meet different learners where they are to make the training engaging, use varying delivery methods.


The manager orientation program is a good opportunity to introduce new managers to how they fit into the organization. For example, managers may be considered agents of the organization, so their actions can place the company at legal risk. While all employees should focus on delivering customer service, those expectations are even greater for managers.

Implementing and Evaluating the Program

As with other new development initiatives, it’s important for TD pros to pilot their new manager orientation program. You may pilot the content with managers who have been onboard for a few years. This group of individuals can tell you if the content you’re delivering is relevant, if it aligns with culture, and if it’s actually “how things are done here.” Further, these managers can become ambassadors of the program, sharing with incoming managers the relevance of the program and how the program will set this incoming group of managers up for success.

One final tip that Lauby provides: Make sure you revisit your manager orientation program as the organization grows and changes. That way, you’ll continue to provide the right content in the way that managers need so they can be successful.

About the Author

Patty Gaul is a senior writer/editor for the Association for Talent Development (ATD).

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