New Onboarding Manager Program offers a road map to success

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed during the first few weeks in a new job. For many managers in both the public and private sectors, this is often a reality. They struggle with the challenges of getting used to their new position and with a busy hiring manager who has to cope with his or her own demanding work commitments. This can unintentionally lead to insufficient support and guidance during those first critical months, sometimes resulting in premature departure from the organization by the new recruit.

Thanks to an innovative program now in place at York, newly-hired managers at the University have the advantage of a targeted system of support. The Onboarding Manager Program includes a buddy program, a comprehensive checklist of important milestones and support for both the hiring supervisor and new recruit. Developed by the Learning & Development Division in the Department of Human Resources & Employee Relations, this program can be described as a road map to success. It provides essential support for new managers and is designed to ensure that those first critical months for these managers are productive and rewarding.

Left: Newly hired managerial employees at York University now have the advantage of a targeted system of support known as the Onboarding Manager Program

Important milestones for the Onboarding Manager Program were identified by Suzanne Killick, director of Learning & Development, following a series of pan-University consultations. A panel of 22 subject-matter experts from across the University convened to work with Learning & Development to build the new program. “The subject-matter experts were asked what they thought a new manager needs to know during the first few months on the job,” says Laura Isabella, a talent management specialist in Learning & Development. "As part of this, we identified and developed an easy-to-use, friendly system to integrate both external and internal new managers into their positions.

“Through these consultations, we agreed on five phases of key activities that need to take place over the course of the first 90 days on the job,” says Isabella. "Following upon our decided five phases, we created a comprehensive list of activites and tasks that the hiring manager and newly hired manager would have to complete during those first 90 days. This may sound highly administrative, but it does help the new manager feel supported and appreciated.”

Included in the Onboarding Manager Program is a buddy program. The role of the buddy may be as simple as telling the new manager where to find office supplies and making introductions to departmental colleagues, or it could be as complex as demonstrating how to read a customized financial statement, prepare a request for proposals and where to find the tools needed to complete such tasks.

A pilot for the program was developed and tested earlier this year, which was met with great success, says Isabella. 

Luana Jursza, director of Client Solutions & Services for University Information Technology and new recruit Paul Tonin, an academic affairs officer with the Faculty of Graduate Studies, participated in the pilot. Both enthusiastically support the program.  

"As a participant of the Onboarding Manager Program, I found the new process tremendously valuable from both the hiring manager and employee perspective,” says Jursza. “Engaging employees even before their actual employment begins prepares them to succeed once on board. They feel welcome, are able to contribute and feel valued by the organization. The Onboarding Manager Program is an easy-to-follow, consistent program.”

Tonin states. “The Onboarding Manager Program helped to quickly broaden my knowledge and understanding of York. It provided me with the opportunity to meaningfully interact with other managers,” he says.

“Onboarding gets a new manager informed with the policies, procedures, culture expectations and day-to-day responsibilities for their department or unit. It’s important because it establishes a positive path early in a new manager’s career,” says Isabella.

The program’s goals have been carefully designed to ensure that a new manager feels welcomed by affirming they have made the right choice in selecting York, says Isabella. It ensures that new managers understand how they fit into the University’s culture and organization, and helps them build relationships with key stakeholders. This works to increase a new manager’s engagement and satisfaction with their position and helps to reduce the time it takes to assimilate into their job responsibility and role.

To learn more about onboarding your newly hired manager, visit the new Onboarding Manager Program Web site or e-mail Laura Isabella, talent management specialist, at

By Jenny Pitt-Clark, YFile editor