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Managers & Leaders Need Different Onboarding

The onboarding of leaders and managers is a joke and we wonder why things go wrong with them and their teams.

Managers and leaders need totally different onboarding than others. I know companies like to post "Our VP is attending induction because our culture is important to us." Jesus, Mary and Joseph. I don't want managers and leaders to attend the boring induction days, in fact, I don't want anybody to attend boring induction read here:

Induction and onboarding are different so keep that in mind when you are planning your programs. Let's talk about the onboarding of managers and leaders.

Ask yourself the question, "Do my managers and leaders know how to lead people and manage their department in your organisation?" Because this is what you should be teaching them so there is no surprise by anyone a few months later when employees are complaining about team dynamics, PTOs and that overtime is not managed and now HR must have a meeting with the manager or that employees haven't got a feedback or an update about their performance and the company for months.

So what should managers' and leaders' onboarding look like? Of course, it depends on what the organisation wants but here are a few basics I am designing for somebody. NOTE: Do not put people in a classroom crash course, run ppt slides thinking you have onboarded them. It does not work that way.

Managers & leaders onboarding agendas:

  • Employee Life Cycle and their aim at each stage so managers and leaders can align their internal policies and practices with the overall goal of each area. Example: The aim of "Attract" is to make people want to work in this company. As a manager and leader, now I need to behave and do things in a way that will reflect on Glassdoor reviews and internally. That way, potential candidates will not be put off by reviews and stop their application process and existing employees will happily refer their friends.

  • Communicating company & departmental goals, results, and progress and how they contributed towards these.

  • How to maintain trust and the psychologically safe environment the company has built. Managers and leaders have no idea of this concept and often go against it unknowingly.

  • How to run 1:1, feedback, monthly meetings etc in line with the company's style.

  • How to manage performance on a daily basis. No! Not the annual performance management cycle! How to coach, guide, set clear performance expectations, and talk about those in a constructive way.

  • How to build teams. NOT team-building activities! How to build teams and what are the tools the company provides to do that.

  • How to build your team's micro-culture based on one's leadership style (People-Oriented, Process-Oriented, Thought-Oriented, Impact-Oriented, read here) but in alignment with the company's macro-culture. Also, teaching people about their natural leadership style and what that means to the people around them. How do they fit into the greater picture of the leadership team.

  • How to manage holidays, overtime, and other payroll-related matters so they can manage expenses and employee needs and rights accordingly. So we don't end up with employees working double the maximum legal limit with no compensation and because we have done that for years it is now become the normal practice.

  • Who is going to be the mentor and/or coach of the person for the next six months during the onboarding? That's right, if you don't have that in place how do you imagine people to settle in and learn the ins and outs of the place?

  • The most important part and this is unique to each role: What does this role specifically want the manager or leader to do at this time? It is not the JD or the generic day-to-day stuff. Does the role want the manager to sort out specific operational issues and team dynamics or just to run things the way they are? Does the role want the leader to build a structure, change business direction and culture or launch a new product or just to manage the department in general? What has that person been specifically brought in to do? So we can avoid the HR lady being in her role for four years having to open several restaurants and still haven't established a learning and training structure for the 2000 people under her care.

  • Which brings me to the last point, who is holding the person accountable to do the job? No, it is not the reporting line or the KPIs. It is literally who is going to monitor that the person is doing the job he/she has been brought in for and how is that going to happen? This could be the mentor, coach, line manager etc... But it must be outlined based on the specifics of the person and the role.

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