Managers are never needed more than when new hires are being integrated with an established team of employees. Handling this successfully requires a combination of skills that intersect and complement one another, so let’s go over the most important assets of managers during the onboarding process.
Being able to put yourself in the shoes of a fresh face in the office is half the battle. You have to empathize with their situation to understand the struggles they’ll face, and in turn do your part to prevent perceived problems from persisting.
It’s all too easy for people who are entrenched in how a business works to forget that a lot of the approaches and best practices can be alien to outsiders. You have to gain perspective and realize that certain elements will need to be explained thoroughly and even included in the training of new hires.
Likewise, using empathetic listening is a good managerial skill to nurture in this context. Some newcomers will attempt to disguise their discomfort, or gloss over their lack of understanding, so you must be able to drill down into what’s really being said.
Planning and organization skills for onboarding
From a more practical perspective, managers may be partly or wholly responsible for overseeing and orchestrating the onboarding process.
This is made less taxing through the better use of employee onboarding software, so getting up to speed with the best platforms in this market is advised. You’ll be able to automate a lot of the organizing, as well as implementing changes to onboarding plans as necessary, according to feedback from employees who’ve recently joined the team.
There’s a real knack to introducing new hires to the rest of the team, and it’s a two-pronged process for managers to wrangle. First, you need to bring existing members into the loop regarding why you’ve recruited someone and what skills they’ll bring to the table, as well as what responsibilities will be theirs to take care of.
Second, you must make a formal introduction with all the team present, explaining what support you expect the team to provide their newest member when they get up and running.
This is not something to rush through or brush over, and is doubly important in the case that the new person is working remotely. Without a rigorous introduction, it’s possible for remote workers to feel isolated and excluded from tight-knit, on-site teams. Preserving company culture in such a scenario is part of the process as well.
Clarity of communication
Managers who are flawed communicators will not get far. The job is very much about acting as the central point around which the whole team turns. That means being able to facilitate communication between members, and also about expressing your own wishes effectively.
We discussed listening skills earlier, but communication is about more than just absorbing information and interpreting the input of others. In addition, you need to be able to steer conversations and keep them on track, especially in meetings.
When it comes to bringing new employees into the fold of a team, good communication is key. Face-to-face or virtual meetings are a small part of it; you must also master written communication, especially in the case that you rely on things like project management platforms and instant messaging solutions to keep your team on-target.
It’s obviously necessary to steward new employees closely and monitor their progress to ensure that they are gelling with the team. However, you shouldn’t take this too far, because if a person feels like they’re being micromanaged and scrutinized at every turn, they won’t be able to settle.
This is where trust comes into play, and it’s not enough to feel this internally, as you also have to show it in your actions. Once an employee is up to speed, stepping back and giving them the autonomy to get on with their role, only stepping in if they ask for assistance, is part of demonstrating this.
Like many managerial skills, some people will have this innately, while others will need to work on developing it and fighting their urges to interfere.
Inspiring confidence in new hires as a manager of a team involves making decisions without prevaricating or procrastinating. But again, this is just half the story, because the second spur of this skill is also being willing to take responsibility for the outcome of the choices you make.
For example, if your judgment is proven to have been wrong on a particular matter, you must admit your mistake rather than trying to pass the buck. That way, employees at every rung of the ladder will know that they won’t be unfairly burdened with blame.
It’s all about establishing a culture where accountability is important. Your employees will follow your lead and adopt your habits, good and bad, so if you want well-trained, effective team members under you, you must also adhere to the same principles and behaviors you’d expect of them.
Diversity and inclusion
Businesses with diverse workforces are more successful than those without this asset. It’s not a matter of opinion, but of empirical fact.
Managers need to be on top of diversity and inclusion, so of course, this starts during recruitment and kicks up a gear when a newcomer actually arrives. You can’t just pay lip service to progressive hiring policies; you also have to make sure that everyone feels welcome and well-integrated, no matter their social, ethnic or economic background.
The bottom line
All of the skills you acquire and work on in order to bring new employees into your team will have a knock-on effect elsewhere. This makes them especially worthwhile because you’ll be a better manager for every team member, not just the latest additions.
Most of all, you need to be able to recognize the areas in which you aren’t up to scratch and make efforts to augment your skills, rather than settling for less.