You’ve been interviewing candidates for weeks and have finally made the decision on who your #2 will be. Fantastic, you think. The sooner I can get all of that stuff off of my plate, the better!
Whoa… not so fast.
A new manager (whether new to the organization or to management…or both) will need help, at least at first. If new to the organization, there will be a whole new roster of people to get to know, as well as the inner workings of a new office environment. If he or she is new to management, there will also be a learning curve involved when turning from an individual contributor to a manager of people. While it may be tempting to simply introduce Joan or John to the team and hand off a list of to-dos, it is important that you set up your new manager for success by passing along all of the tools and knowledge you can before the work gets started and during the orientation/onboarding period.
Looking at your company from an outside perspective, consider what would best help this new manager get what he or she needs to jump into a new position.
Introductions – Even if your new manager has been with the company for a while, introductions may be in order for employees he or she normally did not interact with, to be followed up with a detailed contact list so a perfect memory won’t be necessary. Anyone who could act as a resource should be considered: if the manager will need to set up meetings in a conference room or need a projector or other technology, who should be called? Who are the contacts needed when gathering data for a weekly presentation, submitting expenses or creating a job requisition? Who manages the timesheet system if technical issues arise?
On-the-Job Observation – If the new manager will be attending or leading any meetings on a regular basis, or managing a team of servers or kitchen staff while they work, be sure to let him or her observe first. If the manager will be approving timesheets or other technical tasks, walk him or her through the process slowly, especially if there are a lot of steps involved. Written instructions and notes as a follow-up resource will always be appreciated. If there are password-protected spreadsheets, proprietary recipes or other confidential items that should not be shared, be sure to relay that information.
Team Review – Part of the new manager onboarding should be getting him or her up to speed on the new team. Be sure to share information that is job-related (whether employees are on performance plans, what coaching style each employee responds to, etc.) and not related to any health or personal issues unless they are directly affecting attendance and accommodations have been made. Employees who wish to share non-job related personal information with a new manager should have time to develop a relationship before doing so. Walk the new manager through the positions and responsibilities of those he or she will be managing to ensure understanding of job flow.
Sharing of Challenges – Try to be honest during the onboarding period in terms of difficulties you’ve found with the job yourself. Share any tips on working with any hard-to-please leadership that you’ve learned, management styles that you tried that didn’t work, team motivation success stories (and failures) as well as any challenges with the day-to-day job itself. While the new manager will eventually figure out what works for him or her on a personal level, sharing information that may help avoid mistakes that have already been made will be appreciated.
Baby Stepping – Avoid “data dump” if at all possible. Imagine if all of the new information being given to the new manager was in physical form and ended up in a large pile on a desk at the same time – it’s a pretty intimidating picture. If time allows, a slower but steady transition of work and responsibility will help the new manager ease in at a comfortable speed while allowing time for questions and clarification. If the manager seems to want to move quickly, ensure they have a good understanding of what has been handed off thus far prior to delegating more items.
Follow-up sessions – Be sure your new manager knows that your door – and the doors of of specific others – is open for questions and concerns. A “sink or swim” atmosphere won’t help the new manager get up to speed or feel supported in his or her new role. Scheduling follow-up or “onboarding” meetings on a regular basis may be a good idea until the new manager feels more comfortable and needs less input or advice on a weekly basis. Pay attention to the new manager’s interactions with other employees as well – both those who report to him or her as well as colleagues without a reporting relationship – to gauge management and communication style. Managers without extensive experience in leading people may initially make a few missteps and immediate, patient coaching will be important.
The primary goal of delegating to a new manager is to free up your time to tackle other tasks. Advance preparation, careful planning and subsequent follow-up will help ensure that the new manager will feel he or she has the tools, resources and support necessary to successfully perform in the new role.