Onboarding New Managers - The Right Way

The entrance of a new manager can be an exciting opportunity for your team to learn from someone new, create a healthy workplace environment, and push onward towards your goals. However, considering that 60% of managers fail within the first two years in a new position, this isn't always the case.

The Meetingnotes Team
March 4, 2024

The entrance of a new manager can be an exciting opportunity for your team to learn from someone new, create a healthy workplace environment, and push onward towards your goals. However, considering that 60% of managers fail within the first two years in a new position, this isn't always the case.

This high figure comes down to a lack of communication, clarity about expectations, and understanding of how internal teams function. Many managers don't feel supported during their onboarding process and struggle to find their footing in the company.

As to not fall into the trap that new managers often do, we've constructed this onboarding guide. We'll be covering everything a new manager will need, giving you a flawless onboarding checklist to focus your new leaders and set them on the right path towards success.

When onboarding new managers, there are two pathways that a company can take. Your company's recruiting process will either hire a manager from their internal teams after giving someone a promotion or will select an external candidate. We've developed pathways for both of these onboarding processes, so let's jump right into it.

How to onboard new managers that were internal candidates

Internal candidates will often have already worked within your company for several months or years. Due to this, they're probably well versed on who they'll be working with, the specific policies of the company, and how day-to-day operations are held.

The only difference for these new managers is that they'll now be on the other end of these policies, being the ones that are giving out tasks and managing their employees instead of being managed. Due to this shift, there are still some key elements that you'll have to touch upon when going through the onboarding process for new managers.

Your onboarding checklist should include:

  • Expect what managers need to hand in at the end of each working period (month, quarter, year)
  • Schedule meetings between the new manager and their direct supervisors
  • Explain the team budget
  • Set out a 30-60-90 day plan for them
  • Check their knowledge of policies

Let's break these down further.

Setting Expectations

One of the core differences between the role of a manager and those that they're managing is the expectation of short-term and long-term goals. While a team member might be working project to project, a manager is going to be overseeing all of these projects and the team members that are running them.

Due to this, you should break down what upper management expects from their new managers. Try and give them insight into both the short-term and long-term goals that you want them to achieve. You should clearly outline what success looks like in their position, ensuring that new leaders feel supported and on the right track.

Additionally, make sure that they're accurately filled in with every single new role that the job includes. Don't assume that just because they've been within this particular department before, they know what the job entails.

The clearer you are in setting out their goals, the better.

Schedule Meetings

Even managers have someone they report to, with familiarity with their senior leader being paramount. One of the most important aspects of effective onboarding is making sure the new hire knows where they stand in the hierarchy of the business. You'll need to make sure they know who they're reporting to, who is on their team, and which other managers they'll frequently be working with.

By scheduling online one-on-one meetings with a tool like Fellow, you'll be able to make sure all invite recipients get a meeting event integrated into their calendars. With this, there won't be any friction as everyone knows exactly when they are meeting with the new hire and when.

These one-on-one meetings can help new leaders feel supported in their role, helping them to get to know any senior members that weren't on their existing team before. These meetings will also help map out the department's structure in more concrete terms, letting the manager find their place quickly.


Team Budget

While team members might have to step up and cover the rogue manager duty or two, the team budget is information that normally stays behind closed doors. When working with a new manager, you should make sure they understand the total budget and how it is allocated.

A budget will include things that help the team run their day-to-day operations, like resources or software, as well as larger events like training courses or external team-building activities. Once a manager knows the budget they're working with, they can more effectively start to calculate how to use it in order to benefit their team members the most.

30-60-90 Day Plan

When onboarding a new employee, one of the first things that a manager should outline is a 30-60-90 day plan. The same idea goes for onboarding new leaders, with a 30-60-90 day plan allowing them to get up to speed with all the technology they'll be using and stay on track to hit their goals.

A 30-60-90 also allows a manager's superiors to monitor progress as they they progress through their first few weeks on the job. Additionally, this will help managers acknowledge success as they see their own improvement over time.

Policy Knowledge

While an employee may have some idea about how the entire organization is run, that doesn't necessarily mean that they understand the policies behind company-wide events or habits.

Within your onboarding process, you should be sure that new managers have access to a handbook where they can see a detailed breakdown of certain policies. Things like how time off works within their team, how bonuses are handled, how the employee performance review process is structured and more should all be in this section.

Be sure to ask questions about the manager's knowledge, helping to straighten out any areas where they're not entirely confident.

This final part of the onboarding process also provides a great opportunity to take a look at the desired management style you're looking for, helping them with information about how to go about conflict management, how to communicate with their teams, and how to refine their leadership abilities. If needed, this is where the onboarding experience can shift into manager training.

Additional Steps to Refine the Onboarding Process for external new hires

When onboarding a new manager, you're going to want to do the same steps as you would take for an internal candidate. The core difference is that because this new manager is coming in blind, you need to take more time to focus on introductions and explaining how the company functions.

Alongside the above steps, when onboarding a new manager that's an external candidate, you should be sure to:

  • Explain your company culture - Starting fresh in a new company and a new team is often overwhelming for a manager. One way that you can make the onboarding process significantly easier for them is to define your company culture. Explain what you stand for and what communication is like in the department they'll be running.
  • Discuss performance reviews - Every single company does performance reviews and feedback differently. If you're trying to onboard new managers well, you should make sure to explain how feedback is given in your company. Considering that positive feedback leads to a boost in productivity, make sure your new hires are certain about how often and what form of feedback they should be giving to their new employees.
  • Schedule 1-1s - Nothing builds team rapport like familiarity. One of the main objectives of the first week should be to make sure the new manager knows their team. Especially in a world where many people work remotely, doing this online is by far the easiest way forward.

Once you've given your new hire a comprehensive overview of the company's management culture, you've almost finished the complete onboarding process. From there, all you'll need to do is make sure that their direct supervisor touches base with them to check on their process.

Within these meetings, the supervisor can help check on how the new team members are settling in, answer any questions, and offer insight into how to handle conflict management between any individual team members that might be at odds.

If the new manager has never run a one-on-one meeting before, be sure to send them a template that will help them through the process. Above everything else, managers need support from their direct supervisors.

Final Thoughts

The manager onboarding process doesn't have to be a total pain. In fact, when done correctly, you'll be able to ensure your new hire hits the ground running.

Remember, when working with new managers, one of your own goals should be to make sure they're supported. Onboarding a new manager can be a fulfilling experience; you’ll be bringing a new perspective to the team or giving a valuable employee a chance to move up the ladder.

Whatever your reason for hiring a new manager, by following these tips, you’ll be well on your way to a flawless onboarding process.

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