New Subordinate Onboarding: a Manager’s steps to Success

onboarding, employee engagement, human resources, recruitment, wellbeing, recruitment marketing, employee retention

“You should create a system or structure helping you to turn your dream into reality”
― Sunday Adelaja

Going into the 2024 and thinking how important the employee engagement is (and especially because of the Gen Z expectations which I talked about in the last article) I wanted to emphasize the necessity of a successful onboarding. Specifically, I wanted to discuss how crucial and important the onboarding of a new subordinate for managers is. I wrote an article about the importance of a good onboarding before but not in a detailed manner. We all know about the importance of first impressions because you only get to have a first impression once so good managers know how to handle the situation, pace and the complexity of a first, second or third month. Sure, the probation period is 6 months in most countries but the impact you make in those first steps is what seals the deal with a new colleague in the department (or doesn’t). Let’s break down couple of important steps which ensure the quality, professionalism and organizational „fit“ after the onboarding is done.

1. Have a structured programme in a weekly period for the first month (or two depending on complexity)

This is the most important step, in my opinion. It shows a new colleague that the manager is structured, precise, organized and very well prepared to give their full attention so the desired quality is simultaneously achieved. What it also shows is the progression of the onboarding content so the colleague understands and can have a feeling of the said progression (you know, something which is really sought after with newer generations). My advice would be a simple excel sheet or a powerpoint presentation to emphasize even more on the importance of those first steps. What this also creates in the colleague’s perception is the exact expectation and some sort of preparation is then available, mostly psychological; it puts them at ease because they know what’s coming.

Onboarding – In place because carefully structured

2. Give them space but watch from afar

It’s good to have a structured programme but managers should keep in mind that there is probably half a chance that the new colleague will be able to keep up the pace with the managers’ expectations. To avoid any early, seemingly disappointed feeling, managers should take baby steps in giving the new colleague content. It’s better to give a smaller workload/content and see if it’s not enough than to give too much and have a possible false perception on the abilities shown. Mind you, it could be that the new colleague really isn’t up to the challenge but 6 months is more than enough to get to that conclusion. You should start small and increase the intensity as they go along, if they manage to adapt.

3. Emphasize the „There is no stupid question, only stupid answer.“ routine

Can’t stress this enough. It’s vital that the new colleague gets the impression that they can ask anything without the worry of looking like a lesser version of themselves. If something needs to be repeated 5 times, repeat it 5 times; it is, after all, an onboarding phase. Plus, it’s in every manager’s interest that the new colleague successfully and correctly absorbs all the information.

Too much intensity

4. Let them job shadow in daily activities

A couple of years back emerged the trend of „learning by doing“. Yeah, it works, and it works quite well if the process is being handled by a specific method and the manager wants the new colleague to be able to essentially copy-paste it. Whatever activity is being done, by also making notes, the colleague should be present phisically. It also sparks up the notion of individual approach towards the new colleague so the overall aforementioned impression becomes more compounded.

5. One-on-one feedback on a weekly basis

Aside from the weekly brief meeting which is not unusual in many companies, managers should sit with the new colleagues to gauge the aforementioned intensity, thoughts on the process and a general feeling in their demeanor. That way, managers can quickly change the pace, control the situation or mitigate a bad outcome.

There always is one

6. Job shadow them in the end

By the end of it all, it’s a good thing to follow them phisically and keep an eye on how they perform needed operations. It’s a logical way for managers to see whether the new colleague absorbed the information correctly and adapted to responsibilities. They can also correct minor mistakes or mishaps.


There is no one-size-fits-all solution to this topic but correcting this activity in a manner which coincides with the expectations that the majority of today’s workforce have will incidentally have a much better outcome as far as first company impressions are concerned. The biggest mistake a company can make is to not have any organized onboarding at all and then ask themselves why the turnover is so high. Initial onboarding will set the foundation for any further organizational „fit“, performance, motivation and overall satisfaction from the new colleague and then some.

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