The manager’s guide to onboarding: Why it matters and how to excel

Appical Team
Wilma Johansson
April 29, 2024
min read
Table of Contents
Establishing a good relationship between manager and employee is an underestimated, yet crucial, step of the onboarding process. Although it requires some time and effort in the beginning, the rewards are invaluable. In this blog, we list some important and useful tips for how a manager can be involved in a new employee’s onboarding process to ensure a good start and a lasting relationship.

You might have heard the saying “People don’t leave companies, they leave managers”. Well, there seems to be at least some truth to it - in fact, a recent study has shown that almost one-third of UK workers left their jobs due to a negative relationship with their manager. To avoid this unpleasant situation, and to ensure that your new employee is effectively onboarded and feels at home in their new workplace, there are many ways for a manager to be involved in the onboarding process.

Why is onboarding important for managers?

Onboarding is important for managers as it lays the foundation for a good relationship with employees, which in turn increases the job satisfaction and retention rate. A common mistake in the onboarding process is that the manager doesn’t realize the importance of investing time in their new employees, and leaves all the onboarding-related tasks to an assistant or buddy. While a buddy is undoubtedly important and helpful, they can’t fully replace the important role of the manager, since a good relationship with the manager is the most important factor for an employee’s job satisfaction

However, lack of awareness might not be the only reason why managers don’t take the time to invest in their employees. After all, managers are busy, and allocating time to a new employee amongst countless other tasks might not always be easy. Therefore, the key lies in finding a way to be sufficiently involved in the onboarding process, despite a busy schedule.

Below we list 7 simple yet important steps managers should take in the onboarding process.

1. Arrange the practicalities

Make sure that there is a tidy and clean desk for your new talent upon arrival, to leave a first good impression. Leaving a small welcome gift on their desk is a big plus! On top of this, arranging all tech essentials such as work laptop and phone, as well as login details to the accounts, platforms, and software will get your new talent up and running as soon as possible.

2. Have an action plan for the first period

A big mistake in the onboarding process is not having a plan for your new hire. After all, they’re probably joining your company with hopes of developing on a professional level and learning new skills. To help with this, an action plan is essential in setting the expectations and possibilities for your new employee to grow in your company.

An action plan can be whatever you want it to be, but some useful things to consider are: What specific tasks is your new employee expected to learn and develop in the coming weeks or months? How many check-ups should you plan with your new hire to ensure that they’re doing well and are on track? A 30-60-90 plan is a useful way of setting goals and expectations for new hires.

3. Assign a buddy

Luckily, you don’t have to do everything yourself. Although it ultimately is the manager’s responsibility to ensure that all essential steps are completed, assigning a buddy to stay in touch with your new employee is a good way to save time and help your hire build relationships with their new colleagues. Read more about the benefits of offering an onboarding buddy here.

4. Prepare the onboarding journey step-by-step

This may sound obvious, but given how many tasks are involved in the onboarding process, thorough preparation is essential to ensure that no important tasks are lost along the way. Take a few minutes to sit down and write down all tasks which need to be done. Arrange them in a timeline, and if you wish, according to importance. What needs to be done during preboarding, on the first day, during the first week, and so on?

[.callout-small]Luckily, you don’t have to think of everything from scratch. For a detailed checklist of all the big and small tasks included in an onboarding journey, from preboarding to the first weeks, download our ultimate onboarding checklist for free.[.callout-small]

5. Plan check-ins before the first day

As a manager, being visible and showing that you care is important in building trust with your employees. By scheduling a few check-ins before the new hire’s first day, you lay the foundation for a good relationship with your new hire from the start. 

Of course, the number of check-ins depends on how much support you think they need before their first day, and maybe they’re busy with the offboarding process at their previous company. Either way, an email or text message saying that you’re excited for them to start is all it takes to brighten their day and make them even more excited for their upcoming adventure in your company.

6. Prepare the team

Do the other team members know when their new colleague is starting? Do they know anything about them? Preparing your team to meet their new colleague will make sure that they are there to help out and greet the new hire, and in extension strengthen the sense of community.

7. Prepare if it doesn’t go well

Of course, your new employee is most likely going to fit their new role and team - after all, you hired them for a reason. But if there for some reason should be a mismatch, or your new hire doesn’t live up to the expectations set in the action plan, it’s important to have a backup plan.

Therefore, make sure you know what to do in case these situations arise. What are the possible things that could go wrong? Which of these can you as a manager solve yourself? And for which will you need the help of the HR team? Take some time to consider this, and talk to your HR team for input. Although such a scenario may seem unlikely, it may prove beneficial for you and your new hire, should everything not go as planned.

The main takeaway

Although the tips discussed in this blog may seem different, they all have one important thing in common: time investment. Without investing time in onboarding your employees, you can’t expect to build trust and strong connections, and the first two weeks are crucial for this.

The benefits of digitalization and HR

Fortunately, HR can assist in the onboarding process and offload managers in some of the steps listed, for example by helping with paperwork and other administrative tasks and providing information about the company culture and values, wellness, and benefits. This gives you as a manager more time to focus on your new hire’s journey and development by planning check-ins and setting goals.

You can also save time by digitalizing the onboarding process through an onboarding platform such as Appical. This is immensely helpful in centralizing all tasks into one single platform, providing a clear overview of what needs to be done and when. Simplify workflows further by scheduling automatic reminders for crucial tasks, benefiting both new hires and managers.

Moreover, our toolkit for managers empowers them to effectively engage with new hires. It provides effortless tracking of new hire progress, facilitates communication through (pre-set) messages with new team members, and offers prompt assistance when needed. This ensures a time-efficient and comprehensive onboarding experience for both you and your new hires.

In conclusion, managers play a crucial role in employee job satisfaction, which is why onboarding is important in forming a good relationship. As a manager, there are many things you can do to turn each new onboarding journey into a smooth, seamless, and exciting journey for your new hires.

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