Confident young manager raising hand at workshop

The Journey to Bringing New Managers Onboard

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

When do you as a talent development professional start thinking about what your team needs to do to get ready for your newly hired manager? Two days before they’re set to walk in the door? The morning of?

If that’s your mentality, you’re way late according to Sharlyn Lauby in “A Road Map for Onboarding Managers.” The new hire integration process, of which onboarding is the final—and longest—step, should begin when a company considers bringing a new person on. After a team decides what the ideal candidate would look like, they can begin to recruit for the position.
Once a candidate is selected and has accepted, preboarding occurs. The incoming manager should receive messages from current staff so she begins to feel like part of the team. During orientation, the new manager starts to see the big picture and learns about the company mission, vision, and values.

It is at this point that onboarding begins, and it is a phase that is especially critical for new managers. That is the case because managers have such a key role in employee engagement: “To reduce expensive turnover, companies need to focus on employee engagement. And the biggest factor to successfully implementing an employee engagement strategy is having qualified, competent managers.”

Lauby suggests using a model similar to ADDIE to develop one’s manager onboarding program. What’s important, however, is that you understand the business need and where you are now and where you want to go—that is, program objectives; before you design, implement, and evaluate you program.

A few ideas for a manager onboarding program include:


Buddy programs. If you already have a buddy program in your organization in a different form, this is an easy way to start. Employees are familiar with the idea and you’ll have buy-in from leadership. While a buddy can help a new manager get acclimated, this type of program is not a substitute for company training programs or proper management, warns Lauby.

Real-time development. Two facets of real-time development are feedback training, whereby new managers are able both to receive and give feedback about their experience; and career-building experiences. The latter can include opportunities to practice leadership skills, such as heading a fundraising effort for the organization’s corporate social responsibility entity.


Microlearning. Microlearning can be a viable option for providing refresher content, not only for the new manager but for experienced managers as well. “Microlearning could be a way for managers to access a short video, a tips one-pager, or a set of frequently asked questions,” for example.

Mentoring. Current managers can serve as mentors for new managers regardless of age, as mentoring is no longer seen as an older employee mentoring a younger employee. While buddy programs are more focused on socialization, mentoring is really about knowledge and abilities.

Once a mature manager onboarding program is in place within your organization, experienced managers who have been onboarded can help onboard new managers, taking place or augmenting human resources or L&D practitioners.

About the Author

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

1 Comment
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When new managers come into an environment where the goal is clear, information is transparent and incentives are aligned, they do well, as does everyone else. These Forbes and Harvard Business Review articles provide more background:
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