It’s summer, which means companies are about to receive (and onboard) an influx of bright, eager, new college grads. I love the energy and enthusiasm those recent grads bring to the table, but consider this for a moment: What does it take to manage these bright, young people? I’m not asking this to find out who has an onboarding process in place.  (You all do, of course!) I’m asking because managing new hires requires a unique set of skills. If you are not teaching your managers how to handle new hires, especially millennials, you are setting them up for failure. I’ve seen it all too often.

When Managers Struggle With The Onboarding Process

When managers don’t have the right training to onboard new hires, that’s bad enough. But when the new hires tend to include millennials, there are even more potential problems, due to generational gaps in expectations, habits, and work experience. For example, consider:

  • Hiring: Your manager wants bright, creative young minds. She offers a competitive salary and benefits but can’t understand why the best candidates she interviews get poached by the competition. (Hint: They are looking for a good company culture and work-life balance, too!)
  • Making an Impression: Your manager tries to make it clear from day 1 that she calls the shots. Your new hire, like most millennials and other intelligent people, is slow to trust authority. The new hire wants more of a mentor and leader, while your manager is simply trying to communicate the local hierarchy. But the result is friction from the start.
  • Onboarding Process: Your manager’s first move in the onboarding process is to hand the new hire a thick manual full of company policies. The new hire assumes it’s a reference guide and sticks it “on the high shelf.” Later on, problems arise because the new hire doesn’t seem to know company policies. The manager assumes the new hire read the policies on day 1, while he was expecting more guidance to come in-person, or via text or IM.
  • Feedback/Coaching: Your manager plans on doing quarterly reviews, as your organization has always done. The new hire, however, expects more frequent, specific feedback. The quarterly reviews become a complaint-fest where new hires get pre-emptively defensive about not receiving the training and coaching they need.

These are just a few of the problems I have witnessed in other organizations that did not appreciate the gap between what their new hires wanted, and what managers thought they should be doing.

And the ironic thing is that just a little more training for those managers would have likely eliminated 95% of these problems. In essence, both new hires and their managers need training—and those managers better get their training well in advance of the new hires coming on board.

Training Managers to Prepare for Millennial New Hires

OK…so how do you do that?

A lot of it comes down to what you use to train your managers. Not all content is created equal when it comes to the onboarding process, and you will want to look specifically for content that is:

Relevant and Up-to-Date. Given when millennials were born, they have been hitting the job market only for the past seven or eight years. If the training library you are using updates less often than that, you can bet that the content they have is not relevant to onboarding this cohort of employees. (For comparison, ej4 makes a point of updating all content within a two-year time frame.)

Engaging and Actionable. Not naming names, but a lot of providers have content that is more motivational in its aims. That’s not a bad thing by itself…but it won’t get you the results you need or want. The content you give your managers should have concrete steps and actionable ideas so they can start off their new employees on the right foot.

“Just Enough.” Just because a library has thousands and thousands of titles does not mean it has the specific content you need—the points above are some good examples. What makes things even worse is when you have to sift through those thousands of titles only to discover that you don’t yet have what you need. (In fact, we cover this topic much more extensively in our whitepaper “How Many Courses Do You Really Need?” I suggest you check it out!)

A Sampling of Training Content for Managers

So after saying all that, I feel like I owe you, the reader, an example of a content library done right, one that can quickly prepare your managers for the new “Class of 2017” hires.

In fairness, I can only draw on my own knowledge of what ej4 offers:

  • Need general advice on who the millennial generation is, and how to integrate them into your workforce? Check out our series on Integrating Millennials.
  • You might also need to remind your managers that not all millennials are alike. Indeed, we all bring our own stereotypes to the table. A refresher on diversity, like our Working Well With Everyone series, might be just the thing.
  • An entry-level employee is bound to be of a certain age, but you can’t talk about age during hiring. That’s something you’ll catch in our course on Legally Hiring.
  • This new generation of employees values work-life balance. We have a course on that very topic with helpful tips for managers to make this a reality for their new hires.
  • Workplace culture matters to this generation, too. We have an entire topic (Developing Your Culture) dedicated to building that culture.
  • Those managers will also need to know how to coach their new hires through the first stage of their development. They could use our course on Coaching Skills: The Rookie.

I have even more examples if you would like to talk about them. My point here is that this content is relevant and up to date, engaging and actionable, and it is easy to find because you don’t have to sift through thousands of titles to find the appropriate bits.

And if you’d like to take a deeper dive into these titles, or other topics, just sign up for a free trial of our Thinkzoom LMS to start watching content—you’ll have access to all of it!


Ryan Eudy

Written by Ryan Eudy

Since joining ej4 in 2005, Ryan has operated in every facet of the business. It is this experience that Ryan utilizes to manage ej4’s daily operations. Ryan offers innovative solutions and has a unique understanding of matching client needs with the right performance improvement tools to change targeted behaviors.

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