Does Your Organization Need A Manager Onboarding Program?

by Sharlyn Lauby | Posted | Leadership

Does Your Organization Need A Manager Onboarding Program?

There's an old saying that “employees don't leave companies, they leave managers.” And the data supports it. According to the latest State of the American Workplace report by Gallup, fifty percent of employees said that they've left at least one job in their career to get away from their manager.

The other scenario that's equally worrisome is when an employee's relationship with their manager creates disengagement, but the employee doesn't physically leave. They simply check-out, both mentally and physically, from their work. It's a real risk to organizational productivity.

Managers play a key role in employee engagement and retention. To really make an impact, they need to be given the tools for success – starting on day one. This is where manager onboarding programs can really help.

Set new managers up for success

Manager onboarding provides new managers with the information and skills they need to be successful. It's one part welcoming and socialization into their new role and one part skills development. A manager onboarding program isn't only for new hires from the outside. Managers who are being promoted from within can benefit from an onboarding program, as well.

Organizations should look at manager onboarding from a different perspective than their management and leadership development programs. The topics traditionally covered in a development program can be used immediately. They don't need to become a manager to apply their learning from these programs. Manager onboarding topics are needed at the point they become a manager, usually not before.

Could your organization use manager onboarding?

The way to determine if your organization can benefit from a manager onboarding program is to conduct a skills assessment. As tempting as it may be to skip this step, because you know what the organization needs, resist the urge. Even if initial reactions are spot-on, assessments can provide confirmation. They also make sure the organization is focused on the right issues, not just symptoms. Assessments involve two major areas of focus: the current and future state.

The future state is where the organization needs to be in order to be successful. It involves not only the company, but the industry and the geographic region. Organizations want to examine their strategic plans and take into consideration their future direction. They should also conduct an environmental scan to understand the external factors that might impact the business.

Next, the organization needs to evaluate their current abilities. To conduct a fair and realistic assessment of current talent, organizations should consider three activities:

  • Review existing information. Organizations have a tremendous amount of data already available in the form of performance reviews, 9-box grids and succession plans. There's no reason to duplicate the efforts that have already been made and add to the length of the assessment.
  • Self-assessment and evaluation. It could make sense to ask current managers for an honest self-assessment of capabilities. The organization isn't necessarily focused on individuals as much as the collective management group.
  • Utilize multiple techniques. Any type of data collection method has its pros and cons. To ensure gathering the best information, consider combining techniques. It provides confirmation that the existing talent assessment is accurate.

After understanding the capabilities of the current management group and the future needs of the organization, a gap analysis can be done. Basically, the assessment allows the company to measure the difference between where they are and where they want to be. The identified “gap” becomes the start of an action plan. Or in this case, the start of a manager onboarding program.

Manager onboarding is a long term gain

A word of caution: Every organization's gap will look different for a variety of reasons – existing development programs, education and experience of managers as well as the depth of information available about manager performance.

If, after conducting the assessment, an organization finds themselves with a long list of to do items, don't feel it's necessary to address them all at once. Prioritize the issues and develop a strategy for handling them over time. It's a better use of time and budget resources.

Manager onboarding programs give managers the positive start they need to do well in their jobs. And when managers do well, the organization wins.

Just don't skip the organizational assessment, even when you know you need the program. The assessment doesn't have to be long or costly. Assessments provide confirmation and buy-in, both essential elements to any development program.

Want to go deeper on manager onboarding? I recently held a webcast called Setting Leaders Up For Success.  You can watch the archived webinar here.

Setting New Leaders Up For Success

Find out how to onboard your managers to set them up for success


Watch Now
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Setting New Leaders Up For Success

Find out how to onboard your managers to set them up for success


Watch Now


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