How to get Managers Excited about Virtual Onboarding

Posted in Best Practice Thoughts & Culture

by alicia

Getting managers excited about onboarding (virtual or otherwise) is our major priority.

Because we know, no matter how much exec buy-in you have and no matter how excited HR is… if your managers aren’t excited, they won’t be the champions your onboarding program needs to succeed.

Keep reading. We’ve discovered the ultimate formula for getting managers excited about onboarding – and five immediate actions to make the equation add up.

Manager excitement is the final frontier of great virtual onboarding 

Gallup say 70% of variation in the employee experience comes down to managers. So it’s unsurprising that managers are instrumental to creating an awesome onboarding experience. And more important than ‘awesome’: effective.  

More engaged, excited managers during onboarding equals:

  • More engaged, excited new hires
  • More supportive, helpful team environment
  • More productive new hires, faster

Plus, all the lovely tangential things. Like less team time spent helping new hires ramp up and better team morale when someone slots right into the culture.

And the bigger thing is, as we wrote recently in part two of our virtual onboarding series, managers have become even more important virtually. If they weren’t before, a disengaged manager now is an absolute deal-breaker.

So… how do you get your managers to deliver the great onboarding experience you’ve been working hard to design?

By getting your managers excited – as excited as you are!

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Why getting managers excited can be tough 

Getting managers excited about (virtual) onboarding is probably the most common challenge our customers chat to us about. The problem normally boils down to three drivers:

  1. Managers don’t know why onboarding matters (and matters to them), so they’re not motivated. Onboarding is seen as an HR-induced chore.
  2. Managers don’t know what’s expected of them, so they simply don’t realise they’re not doing the right stuff.
  3. Managers don’t have the right training, tools or support to deliver great onboarding easily, so they’re frustrated and disempowered.

That’s especially true given the global movement towards remote work. (Not just during the pandemic either, given McKinsey’s prediction that three to four times more people could work remotely post-COVID.)

Basic practical questions – ‘how do I welcome new hires to the office now?’, ‘what does a team social event look like now?’ – have left everyone scrambling. Plus everyone’s got heaps more than usual on their mental load (our State of EX COVID edition showed 1 in 3 employees have been struggling with anxiety during the pandemic).

And unless you already had robust cloud-based tools to facilitate remote collaboration, any newly virtual process like onboarding probably became totally unmanageable overnight.

The point is – if getting your managers excited wasn’t easy before, it’s harder now.

But here’s the thing. If you reverse those three drivers, you actually get a pretty simple formula:

Make sure managers know why onboarding matters (and not just for the business and new hires, but for them personally)

+

Equip managers with the training, tools and support to make doing the right things easy and fast.

=

Managers who are as excited about onboarding as HR!

Here are five practical ways you can make that equation true.

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1 – Schedule regular onboarding training for managers 

Focus on the WHY, not just the HOW. Imagine you’re presenting to your most important internal stakeholders (you are!) and really amp-up the WOW factor.

Consider building a couple of awesome internal case studies (videos are even better) featuring current employees – think compelling, exciting, engaging and memorable. You could even wrap onboarding training into a manager off-site morning/afternoon – make onboarding training a special event that managers look forward to.

(And share our business benefits cheat sheet with them!)

2 – Recognize and reward fantastic manager onboarding performance 

Sometimes organizations approach us wondering why they struggle to get managers on-side. But they don’t actively manage performance against onboarding KPIs – so they don’t catch and correct poor performance, or recognize and reward great performance.

If you say onboarding is important – what are you doing to back up your stance?

Think about designing a rewards program for managers who excel at onboarding. That has the advantage of codifying the right behaviors, as well as creating excitement.

Or at least – a super cheap and easy idea – get your CEO to send a regular company-wide acknowledgement email calling great managers out.

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3 – Deliver an amazing manager onboarding experience

What’s better than telling managers how powerful great onboarding can be? Showing them, of course!

Managers are often promoted on the basis of being great employees. Then suddenly they’re expected to still deliver the same great performance, only with heaps less time. And heaps more people management tasks they mightn’t have any idea how to do. Especially virtually.

Don’t just promote employees into managers – onboard them into managers. (We call it crossboarding). Then they’ll be better equipped to deliver a great experience – and more excited about the potential of great onboarding, thanks to their first-hand experience. (And it’s definitely worth redoing at least some elements of manage onboarding again whenever there’s a major change).

4 – Provide a library of easy-access resources  

Once new hires have started their new role, managers are their central resource hub – not HR. That’s true always but especially so virtually. But many organizations lack an effective handover process, leaving managers ill-equipped to be their new hires’ go-to.

Create a central resource hub for managers with any information they might need to guide their onboarding (like pre-start questionnaires, virtual icebreaker ideas, onboarding checklists, working style assessments, email templates).

Plus make sure managers have any resources new hires might need (like company handbooks, HSE guidance, IT support protocols, company hierarchy, contact lists, door codes, etc.).

Replace your “HR’s better to ask about that”s with one-to-one informed conversations. So new hires don’t feel fobbed off, and managers trust they’ve got the approved resources to have conversations with confidence.

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5 – Make onboarding easy with the right technology 

Crazy busy managers (are there any other type?!) don’t have time for anything that wastes time. And they’re unlikely to remember ad-hoc small onboarding tasks when they’re spinning loads of attention-demanding plates.

But small omissions can have big consequences. A missed check-in email mightn’t even register on managers’ radar, but for new hires that could mean the difference between feeling supported and feeling like an afterthought.

That’s especially true with virtual onboarding where important but informal stuff – like bumping into colleagues – doesn’t happen. New hires are completely dependent on managers in a whole new way so you can’t afford them to drop the ball. Ever.

Not to toot our own horns or anything (toot, toot) but manager engagement across Enboarder customers is 92% – because we’ve put managers (and making their lives easy) right at the heart of our platform.

Smart multi-level automation powers personalized manager interactions at scale, while mobile-first manager nudges make remembering to act easy. But whatever you use to power your onboarding – that’s the principle to remember. Make it simple and make it fast.

We’re lucky enough to count some of the world’s most exciting, people-first organizations as customers – Eventbrite is one amazing example. Eventbrite has been recognized multiple times on Fortune’s Best Workplaces lists, and named a Best Company to Work For in San Francisco by the San Francisco Business Times for nine years running.


Check out our case study to discover how Enboarder helped Eventbrite increase manager engagement to 73%.
Read now.