A big challenge in the world of work is the rampant turnover of leadership positions. Bosses are quitting and getting hired at a swift pace. This also means employees are more frequently adjusting to and training in new managers.
Onboarding, or the process of helping a new hire get accustomed to a job, is the responsibility of everyone, not just HR or the person’s direct supervisor. New employees, regardless of management status or not, can slow everything down because colleagues must stop what they’re doing to train them in. The faster a new hire gets up to speed and starts adding value, the better for everyone.
Even so, you might be thinking, “I have too much to do already. I’m not going to help my new boss with learning the job. That’s on them.” Or “Why would I help the guy who beat me out of the management job I wanted?”
That’s understandable; but it’s also short-sighted. One of the most important relationships at work is the one with your boss. The more resourceful and helpful you are, the better off in the long run you’ll be. This isn’t about sucking up; this is about being a productive member of a team.
Conversely, if you’re the type of person who already wants to help but isn’t sure where to start, ask your new boss what would be most helpful. If they are unsure too, focus on people, content, and culture. Here are some tips.
Identify the people who have the most influence
Relationships are the most important aspect of work and knowing who to go to for what is often the hardest thing to figure out. Aside from getting to know their own team, make a list of people the new boss must know and describe why it’s important they meet with each person. Here’s where to start:
- Content experts: These are folks who have valuable expertise and are often tapped to participate on committees or work groups. Many have been with the company for a while and have institutional knowledge and perspective that is helpful to anyone new.
- Status holders: These are people who can sway staff into supporting (and derailing) initiatives based on the respect others have for them. They have influence and may not be managers themselves. They also might be critical of management so having a relationship with them is important to getting things done.
- Resource approvers: There are different levels of resource approvers so consider those who approve supplies and tools (e.g., wireless keyboards or a headset), those who approve staff positions and budget increases, as well as those who approve new technology.
Explain the most important content
It’s easy to inundate a new boss with mission statements, charts, and annual reports, but this can be too much too fast. Instead, focus on the basics that will lay the foundation for understanding the documentation they will review. Such as:
- Acronyms: Every organisation has their own lingo of acronyms that are thrown about. Not knowing the acronyms can set anyone back. Make a list and give it to your new boss. They will be grateful.
- Organisation charts and office locations: These are invaluable to a new manager and not just because they include people and departments, but they help the manager create a visual picture of the organisation in their head. The boss will get up to speed faster because pictures often stick with us longer than words do.
- Budget cycles: Knowing when budgets are forecasted, submitted, and approved is best known earlier than later. New managers can miss implementing important work just because they missed the budget cycle. Knowing this up front is helpful.
- Share drives and folders: Most organisations have dumped paper manuals and gone electronic. They use tools like OneDrive or SharePoint as repositories for documentation. Show the new boss where everything is saved and how it’s organised. Then, they can study up on their own.
Describe the culture
This one can be tricky to explain because culture often goes unwritten. It’s made up of a collection of norms, behaviours, and attitudes that people just pick up. Sure, you can describe company values to a new boss but that won’t help them understand how those values actually play out at work (or if the values are ignored entirely). Here are some questions to consider when onboarding your boss on corporate culture:
- Meetings: Do they start and end on time or habitually run late? Does every meeting require an agenda or only meetings with certain people? What meetings are mandatory? Is video always on for Zoom calls? Do people eat during meetings or is that a no-no?
- Protocols: These are generally accepted ways of getting approvals, assigning work, and communicating. Do managers need to follow a chain of command to speak to a senior leader, or can they go straight to the CEO? Are there forms to fill out or are requests made via email? Who needs to weigh in on decision-making or can a new manager and their team make all their own decisions?
- Enjoyment: What level of fun is had at the organisation? Do people laugh and joke or is the culture serious and straight-forward? Who can you joke with and who doesn’t appreciate humour at work? Do people have lunch together or meet up after hours or does everyone do their job and go home?
There is much to learn when joining a new organisation. To make the experience a success for all, everyone needs to play a part in onboarding a new boss. By focusing on people, content, and culture your new boss will get up to speed faster and, better yet, be more likely to stick around so you don’t have to onboard another boss anytime soon.