Blog Post

    Why manager onboarding matters most - and how to do an awesome job.

    Employee onboarding is business-critical for every employee. It’s the spark that lights the employee performance bonfire, as we’ve put it before, and delivers proven returns across productivity, retention and engagement.  

    But onboarding is even more important for new managers. Because here’s the thing.

    The more senior your new hire, the more employees they influence. Both directly and indirectly.

    So if you don't effectively onboard your managers, it can mean really bad news. 

    Here's how that works. 


    Think about the marketing executive you just hired. Let’s call him Sam.

    If your onboarding program lets Sam down, he struggles to become productive as fast as he’d like. He misses his first performance milestones (49% of new hires that miss their first performance milestones lack formal onboarding training) and becomes disillusioned and frustrated.

    And if you don’t catch it quickly, those feelings rub off on his colleagues and soon you have a bigger problem. 

    But it gets bigger still.


    Because think about that marketing manager you just hired. Becky. If your onboarding program lets Becky down, she struggles to become productive as fast as she’d like.

    She misses her first performance milestones, which mean most of her team also miss their performance milestones, which means the marketing department stops pulling its weight. Which ultimately has a tangible negative impact on business growth. 

    And the worst is yet to come.


    Because if Becky becomes disillusioned and frustrated those feelings also rub off. But her circle of influence is much wider than Sam’s, and her whole team feels the impact. A poor onboarding programme means Becky lacks the people management skills to inspire and engage her team through the tough times.

    That’s a big problem.


    Because Gallup found that half of 7200 employees had left a job to leave their boss. And even if they don’t leave, an incredible 65% of employees would rather a new boss than a pay rise.

    Employees who feel like that are neither happy (managerial hires gone south can lead to 36% negative impact on morale) nor productive (41% less productive).

    And the problem gets bigger still.


    Because Becky’s circle of influence doesn’t just include her direct team.

    As a senior leader, Becky plays an important role in setting your culture. Her attitude and actions trickle down throughout the business, so her weaknesses and frustrations can quickly become a cultural problem. 

    A cultural problem that means you can’t get the most from your people nor attract new people (because a bad boss means a bad reputation, and a bad reputation means 69% of job seekers wouldn’t touch you with a barge pole), and the ship is well and truly sinking.

    And that can take years to solve. 

    That’s the ripple effect if you don’t onboard your managers properly. So let’s talk about how.

    Better Onboarding For Managers: Two Principles


    If you’re one of the 35% of companies that spend zero dollars on onboarding, you’re definitely failing your managers. But even companies that invest in onboarding usually get manager onboarding wrong.

    That’s because they’re neglecting something vital.

    The thing is, most onboarding programmes focus heavily on functional management. Managers are taught to drive performance towards key metrics for their function – like meeting sales targets, reducing churn, improving lead quality, for example.

    And that makes sense. But it often means people management takes a backseat.

    So much of a backseat that Harvard Business Review find managers only spend 9% of their time developing their people.

    The result is an institutionalized neglect of people management. Which is exactly why 78% of managers are better at driving results than inspiring their team.   

    The important point is this: research proves that the most effective managers balance both. Which means your manager onboarding program must onboard for both. 

    Best-practice onboarding for managers, then, has two components:

    • Helps managers become productive quickly and drive results long-term, to meet functional targets;
    • Helps managers understand and effectively use the principles of people management, to inspire and engage their people. 

    If you tick both those boxes, Becky is prepared and excited to slot into the business and start adding immediate value.

    She’s much more likely to hit those early targets (nearly 85% of new hires that hit their first performance milestones had formal onboarding training), and well-equipped to inspire, engage and empower her team.

    Her team who ultimately become better candidates for internal promotion themselves, building your pool of good managers so the cycle can start again.

    That’s the circle of management life. And the result is better employee retention, higher productivity and higher business revenue. 

    How to champion better people management during onboarding  


    You know you need a robust managerial onboarding process, and you know people management needs to take a central role. But what does that actually look like? 

    Here’s are some pointers. For more detailed exploration, download our free whitepaper on manager onboarding here. 

    • An empty cup can’t fill another. Don’t make senior hires sink or swim. Instead, empower your managers to empower their people by giving them a warm welcome and extensive support as they learn the ropes. Consider assigning a mentor
    • Communicate your people management culture. Educate managers from Day 1 on what people management looks like in your business. Get top-down buy-in and support, or your words will ring hollow.
    • Communicate clear guidelines and targets around one-to-one time between managers and employees. If you only set performance targets, you’re sending the message that only performance matters.
    • Give insight on the people your managers will manage, including relevant background, strengths, weaknesses and so on. Don’t make them walk in blind. If you’re using Talmundo’s onboarding software, you can give them this information in the weeks before they start, so they can hit the ground running on Day 1.
    • Tailor your onboarding depending on whether your manager is a lunar glider or a super chicken… or any other of these 8 manager profiles. When it comes to training managers, one size fits no one.

    Raise the stakes, raise your manager onboarding game


    Employee onboarding is proven to increase retention, productivity and engagement at every level, for every employee. But the stakes are even higher for managers. 

    Get manager onboarding wrong, and you lose people (potentially two-thirds of your employees for one bad manager). Morale disintegrates, engagement dwindles and productivity declines – and revenue goes with them.

    Get manager onboarding right and it’s like lighting a match under a dry bonfire. You get a Midas-touch manager who inspires everyone they touch towards a better, brighter, business future. 

    If you want that, download our free whitepaper on manager onboarding now and discover concrete steps to level-up your onboarding, get eight critical manager profiles to tailor your approach for best effect, and learn how Bacardi put just these tips into practice to build a culture of people management. 


    Topics: Onboarding
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