Monday, December 27, 2021

Onboarding Meeting Scripts Bonus: Managerial Rules

Actions to take: If your new employee's role involves management, add an extra onboarding meeting. In this meeting, discuss managerial principles. Prepare for this meeting in the same way you did for the previous four, with one addition: if your new employee is a veteran of management, make this meeting less a speech and more a dialogue.

For the past 4 posts (not including the week off), I have given you the exact scripts I use of all new employees' onboarding meetings. To cap off our discussion of onboarding, we'll finish with one for when your new employee is themself a manager. That is, in their new role at your organization, they will be supervising people, and you will be supervising them.

Remember the purpose of these talks. You are setting expectations for your new employee to help them understand how best to operate as your employee. Whether or not they do it explicitly, the boss sets the tone for the relationship with their employees. That's the nature of authority. Average bosses do it tacitly. As often as not, they are unaware of the things that are doing to steer the nature of that relationship. By conducting these onboarding meetings, we are being intentional about setting the tone, being intentional about communicating our expectations for how good and excellent employees operate.

However important that is for frontline employees, it is doubly important for managers. Frontline employees can mess up their work. Bosses can mess up an entire department's work. Ironically, managers typically get even less direction from their bosses than frontline employees do. Become part of the solution by conducting one of these onboarding meeting talks specifically about management tasks. 

Unlike the previous four onboarding meetings, this one may or may not be a "speech" to your direct. How you approach the topic of managerial best practice is a spectrum that depends on the experience of your new employee. If your new employee is brand new to management, then this last meeting should be a speech very much in the vein of the previous four meetings. If, however, your new employee is a veteran of management with as many or more years of experience as you, make it a discussion where you trade thoughts on effective management. For those tenured managers, encourage back-and-forth in the meeting. Keep in mind that, assuming you did well during the hiring process, you've got an excellent manager. They likely have just as many useful opinions as you do.

That said, you still need to go in with a plan. Regardless of whether your new employee has 0 years of management experience or 20, they are still your new employee, and they need to know your expectations for the managers under you. I will not be providing a specific script in this post. Long-time readers will already know the topics I cover: my personal Managerial Rules. These were the first 4 things I wrote about on the blog:

  1. Assume Positive Intent: Take extra time pushing yourself to imagine that, whatever the situation was, your employee intended to do good. Stop worrying about intent, ever. Remove it from your calculus about how to handle situations. You will find freedom in simply focusing on preventing further issues in the future rather than investigating why things happened in the past.
  2. I’m Not Special: Beware the trap of thinking yourself superior to your employees. It manifests itself in more ways than you think. Stop yourself from shutting down your employees because "you know better." 
  3. The Things I Want from My Boss are the Things My Employees Want from Me: Recognize that we do not intuitively follow the golden rule. Set aside time to engage in thought experiments about how you would feel if your boss did to you things that you do to your employees. Be critical and honest in those reflections. When you discover yourself doing something to your employees that you wouldn't want done to you, make meaningful changes to your managerial behaviors.
  4. You Never Have to be Tough: The higher you go in an organization, the less you are allowed to express negative emotions. It is a falsehood that authority = toughness. In fact, just the opposite is true. Take meaningful steps to remove your emotional state from the equation during interactions with directs. If they are thinking about your negative emotions, you have failed.

During the actual meeting, I spend more words on each of these than I have here, but less I did in the actual posts about each topic. 

To close, I'll give the same caveat I've given several other times when covering onboarding meetings. The things I choose to discuss with my new employees are specific to my management. They are what matters to me as a manager, and therefore, they are useful things for the people under me to look out for as my employees. The things you discuss should be the things that are most valuable and important to you. While I think my list of topics is pretty good, I encourage you not to copy this wholesale. Reflect on what matters to you, and make sure those topics are central to your onboarding meetings with your directs.

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