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The ultimate new manager checklist | Everything an incoming manager needs to know

Leapsome Team
The ultimate new manager checklist | Everything an incoming manager needs to know
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Stepping into a management role is a challenge — and the numbers prove it. Research shows that a staggering 60% of new managers fail within the first two years. (1)

Freshly promoted managers without leadership experience find themselves balancing a whole new set of responsibilities, often dealing with unclear expectations and challenging team dynamics. Team leads who are new to the organization face a different set of challenges, from adapting to company culture to understanding internal systems.

The impact of this struggle is far-reaching. As Gartner’s Colleen Adler says:

“A successful new manager transition benefits more than just the new manager… Direct reports of managers who receive an impactful onboarding show a 14% increase in performance, a 15% increase in intent to stay, and a 13% increase in commitment to the organization and team.” (2)

By taking a structured, holistic approach to new manager onboarding, HR can set leaders up for success and this will lead to benefits across the whole organization. 

That’s why we created a comprehensive new manager checklist that covers all the bases. Use our free template and step-by-step guide as a roadmap to help new managers thrive in their first 90 days — and beyond. 

  1. Forbes, 2023
  2. Gartner, 2023
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Free download: Ace the first 90 days with Leapsome’s new manager checklist

A comprehensive checklist gives team leaders structure and helps them to approach their new role with confidence

Before downloading our template, here are four key tips to get the most from your checklist: 

  • Customize sections or tasks to fit the unique role and company requirements.
  • Don’t feel obligated to follow the list in order. Managers should structure their priorities for each day using a mix of different tasks from each category, ticking them off as they go to stay on track.
  • Review manager accomplishments at the end of each week and use the checklist as a guide to see if they’ve missed anything. Encourage managers to celebrate their achievements in getting to grips with their new positions! 
  • Return to the checklist from time to time to stay in sync with best practices and make sure managers are dedicating enough attention to all the different aspects of their roles.
🌟 Overcome new manager challenges

Leapsome’s checklist supports new leaders and helps them prepare for every aspect of their new role.

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How to use our new manager checklist

The first 90 days are often a whirlwind of new responsibilities, processes, and challenges for incoming managers. It’s tempting to dive into urgent projects right away, but leadership success depends on purposeful onboarding. 

Use our checklist to take a holistic, strategic approach to onboarding your team leaders — here’s how.

1. Getting started with orientation

Managers should use orientation to familiarize themselves with the organization's core identity so they can align their approach with the overall ethos. Support your new leaders to cultivate a deep understanding of company values, culture, and goals that will empower them to align their teams and make informed decisions.

Understanding the company culture

Encourage leaders to take a proactive approach to learning about the company’s overall mission and vision. 

Recommend that they speak with stakeholders at every level. While leadership might be able to share valuable information on the strategic direction, other employees will also have important insights to share about how the company values are lived out within the organization.

Provide onboarding courses and resources that reflect the organization’s history and mission, and make sure they’re bookmarked and easy for managers to look up as they go.

Pro tip: 💡 Leapsome’s Learning module lets HR teams build out effective onboarding and training programs that are tailored to their organization’s unique culture and values.
Getting to know the department

Before new managers get to work and start building relationships with their team, make sure they feel confident about how their department works. 

Provide org charts and encourage them to map out key business functions and processes to define how their team fits within the organization and contributes to its overall success. 

New team leaders will benefit from taking the time to understand their department’s main goals and how they align with other departments’ goals as well as overall company objectives.

Onboarding with HR

Provide an easily accessible collection of HR materials, guidelines, and resources that new managers can return to throughout their tenure.

Ask new leaders to review key company policies and codes of conduct to get clear on the regulations they’ll be expected to follow and promote within their team. This is also a good time to make sure they’re well-versed in relevant compliance frameworks and legal obligations and understand how to apply these to real-world scenarios, from performance reviews and hiring processes to conflict resolution protocols.

They’ll also need to be up to speed with personal data legislation and IT security so they can lead by example and contribute to a secure, compliant work culture.

🛡️ Turn managers into compliance leaders

Leapsome x lawpilots courses equip your team with the knowledge they need on data protection, cybersecurity, and compliance.

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Ensure new — or newly promoted — managers are also clear on their compensation and benefits packages. 

Ask them to schedule an HR orientation session to clarify any doubts and ask for support in any areas they need. Make sure they understand that the human resources team is there to enable and empower them throughout their management journey! 

2. Setting up logistics & admin

Help new managers get started in their roles feeling confident, well-informed, and well-organized by prioritizing administrative setup.

Workspace setup

Work with the new manager to evaluate their workspace, whether this is in the office or at home, and determine what they require to optimize their comfort, wellbeing, and productivity. Ensure that all equipment is ergonomically designed, accessible, and tailored to any specific needs they might have. 

You can also encourage them to add personal touches to make the space their own.

A photo of a professional writing in a notebook at a workplace desk.

It’s also a good idea to make sure that managers arrange their virtual workspaces early on. Efficient filing, planning, and even password management processes will make for a smooth start.

Systems & software training 

Provide new team leaders with an inventory of essential project management tools and other software they’ll use regularly to carry out their responsibilities. Offer training sessions or workshops in different formats — and suited to different learning styles — so they can gain proficiency with each tool and understand how to integrate them into their regular workflow.

In addition, make sure new managers know how to troubleshoot issues with their tech and what IT and other supports are available if they run into issues. 

At this stage, it’s also important to make sure new managers have access and permissions to all the platforms, tools, resources, and information they need. Paying attention to details like these makes for a smooth, successful onboarding process flow and helps leaders ramp up quickly in their new roles.

Calendar setup

An intentional, effective calendar setup avoids scheduling conflicts and helps managers dedicate time for strategic and deep work while remaining accessible to team members.

First, remind new leaders to synchronize their agendas with their team’s and the broader organization’s calendars. Managers should also allocate specific time slots for regular team meetings, office hours, and 1:1 check-ins.

Taking the time to recharge and manage your own well-being is a big part of being an effective leader — and something less-experienced managers might easily overlook. Remind new hires to block out personal time on their calendar for breaks, meals, and relaxation. 

3. Building rapport & relationships

In an interview with SHRM, people and management expert Jennifer Currence said that too many companies have a ‘hire and hope’ strategy that doesn’t provide new managers with enough support to build connections as well as skills. She elaborates that “when managers fail, there are two main reasons why: They fail to establish key relationships, and they fail to align with company culture.”

It’s essential that HR supports new managers in building strong relationships with direct reports, colleagues, and upper management in the following ways.

Prioritizing individual meetings

Investing time in getting to know team members one-on-one helps managers build trusting relationships and identify issues before they escalate.

Advise them to schedule 1:1s with their direct reports to understand their roles, challenges, and aspirations and support them in maximizing their potential. 

💬 Hannah Keal, Chief People Officer at Unleashed, shares her insights and experiences on building meaningful team relationships from the get-go: 

“The key for new managers taking on a team is to listen first. They often feel that they suddenly have to have all the answers — but that’s an impossible expectation. Listening to your team members' experiences and asking smart, open questions enables a holistic understanding of what’s working and what’s not. 

Taking this approach helps new managers to build a picture not just of the operational mechanics of current projects, but also of where individual team members' strengths and motivations lie.”
Hosting the first team meeting

Organizing an introductory team meeting early on is important for new managers to bring everyone together, co-create expectations, and share insights. It’s also a great time to define schedules, formats, and agendas to make future sessions as effective as possible. 

Our 2023 Workforce Trends Report found that only 30% of employees report having a documented agenda for meetings — and most (57%) consider only about half of their weekly meetings a good use of their time. New managers can differentiate themselves and elevate their team’s productivity by running structured, time-efficient meetings

Using a tool like Leapsome’s Meetings module can easily keep meetings on track with shared agendas, note-taking, and action items that integrate with calendars and predefined organizational and departmental goals.

A screenshot of a meeting action item dashboard within Leapsome's Meetings module showing tasks assigned to different employees.
Leapsome’s Meetings module helps new managers ensure every meeting counts with clear agendas and action items
Networking across departments & teams 

Encourage new managers to reach out to their colleagues in other departments. This can be as simple as introducing themselves and expressing their willingness to collaborate and exchange ideas. They may also want to identify key contacts who can support their team’s goals or offer new perspectives on upcoming projects. 

Make sure they’re aware of any cross-functional groups or initiatives within the organization. Connecting with other teams is crucial for team leaders to break down silos and build their interpersonal relationships within the company.

4 . Defining communication channels

Effective, transparent communication helps new managers identify issues, celebrate successes, and create a shared understanding of goals and functions across the team.

Making use of feedback mechanisms

Great managers take a multifaceted approach to building a feedback culture within their team. 

HR can enable team leads to seek, give, and implement feedback by: 

  • Setting managers up for effective performance reviews with their direct reports so they can acknowledge their team members’ achievements, give constructive feedback, and work together to plan for professional growth. 
  • Scheduling regular 360-degree feedback reviews for managers themselves. These should include self-assessments as well as leadership survey questions answered by the manager’s team, cross-departmental contacts, and upper management.
  • Sharing the results of pulse surveys and engagement surveys with managers so they understand key issues across their team and the wider organization.
  • Encouraging leaders to incorporate feedback from their team into their own growth and personal development plans. HR teams can use solutions like Leapsome to build a competency framework for managers that’s automatically integrated with ongoing instant feedback and performance review tools. 
🔥 Turn survey feedback into action

Leapsome helps HR teams to identify the insights managers need to lead with impact.

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Scheduling regular updates

Managers can keep their teams updated by including agenda points in team meetings that cover progress on important projects, as well as sending monthly and quarterly progress reports to their team and senior leadership. 

Using these updates to highlight key wins and pinpoint potential challenges ahead will keep all stakeholders aligned.

It’s also important to encourage managers to celebrate their teams’ achievements. Our Workforce Trends Report revealed that almost three in four employees crave more recognition and constructive feedback from their manager. Make time in team meetings to shout out successes and wins so your team know you appreciate their good work.

A screenshot of a Praise Wall showing positive comments about employees' achievements and strengths.
Leapsome’s Praise Wall is an easy way for leaders to recognize team members and build a culture of appreciation
Making a conflict resolution plan

Great managers proactively identify potential sources of conflict within their team, taking into consideration differences in personalities, work styles, and goals. Practicing active listening during team discussions and 1:1s will help new leaders learn how to detect possible issues early on.

Support new managers in creating and sharing a clear conflict resolution plan with guidelines for addressing problems between team members and specific communication and escalation processes.

You can also provide conflict resolution training to equip managers with the skills they need to handle disputes professionally and fairly — and bring key insights back to their team. 

5. Setting clear role expectations 

Clear expectations are key to any successful leadership transition. Making sure that managers understand their and their team’s key objectives and responsibilities will empower them to manage performance fairly and delegate effectively.  

Clarifying manager expectations

People professionals and managerial colleagues can support new leaders by helping them understand their own roles and performance expectations. That starts with providing a clear, detailed job description at the hiring or promotion stage. 

In addition, proactively talk to new managers about the aspects of their role they feel comfortable with and what they may need training and support with. 

Clarifying team expectations

It’s important to help new managers build a complete picture of the functions all their team members are expected to fulfill. 

As well as talking about job descriptions and responsibilities, encourage team leaders to meet with each of their direct reports to understand how they see their current role and what challenges they face in their day-to-day work. Be sure to share these clearly defined roles with wider teams so that they know who to reach out to for certain questions, and are aware of any major changes in team setup.

Defining clear goals & performance metrics
A screenshot of an interface from Leapsome's Goals module showing overall objectives, specific key results, and progress bars tracking goal completion.
Leapsome’s Goals module helps managers define and align individual, team, and organizational OKRs

Once new managers have a full sense of their team’s roles and responsibilities, support them in building out clear goals and performance metrics. 

They can start by defining what success looks like for them in their new position. They’ll want to look at key organizational goals, determine which key performance indicators (KPIs) they’ll be evaluated on, and reflect on the contributions they want to make and the professional skills they want to develop.

From there, they can create structured goals using an actionable approach like objectives and key results (OKRs) or the SMART goal framework.

For example, if someone’s objective as a new manager is to improve team collaboration, they may want to track their progress with key results such as:

  • Launch a monthly team-building activity with a participation rate of 90% over the next six months.
  • Increase team engagement scores by 10% in the next employee engagement survey.

Once they’ve defined their own goals, new managers should collaborate with their direct reports to set shared objectives and metrics that work for them. 

💭 Dr. Keith Keating, Chief Learning & Development Officer at BDO Canada and author of The Trusted Learning Advisor, emphasizes the importance of setting goals collaboratively based on team members’ unique ambitions as well as the company’s overall targets. 

Here’s what he recommends: 

“Ensure every role within your team has a well-defined job description, outlining not only the tasks but also the impact and value of the role to the larger organizational goals. My experiences have taught me that when individuals understand the ‘why’ behind their tasks, it infuses their work with purpose and direction.

I also suggest engaging in open dialogues with your team members to understand their aspirations, strengths, and areas that need development. Developing performance metrics, in my view, is the art of balancing organizational objectives with individual capabilities.”
 🚀 Get AI-Generated OKRs in just two clicks! 

Want effective, data-driven OKRs? Input your main goals and let Leapsome’s powerful AI tools do the rest.

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6. Strategically assessing projects

Project management isn’t just about getting things done — it's about getting the right things done. Taking the time to review how things are currently working can help new managers set priorities, allocate resources, and understand what their team needs from them the most. 

Reviewing current projects 

Support team leaders in creating an inventory of all the existing projects and deadlines within their team. Speaking directly with team members will help them understand what’s going well and what roadblocks or problems they are facing.

Then, new managers can evaluate each project based on its progress, performance, and contribution to strategic organizational goals. 

Adjusting projects & allocating resources

The next step is determining the necessary tools, training, and personnel each project needs. 

New managers should prioritize projects and tasks by weighing up their strategic importance and the resources they have available. 

In general, they’ll want to assign team members and resources to the highest-impact projects first, continually checking in with their team and assessing KPIs to see if any adjustments need to be made.

7. Prioritizing learning & development 

Investing in leadership development equips new managers to make a positive impact on their team — and sets them up for career advancement later down the line. 

Upskilling leadership capabilities

Give new leaders the opportunity to do a comprehensive self-assessment and identify key areas where they want to improve as a manager. 

Work with them to develop a personalized training plan that addresses these gaps through leadership-focused courses, workshops, and coaching.

Staying on top of industry insights

Great managers commit to continuous improvement within their company and sector. Empower new managers to spend time learning and understanding industry trends and shifts. They can set up Google keyword alerts, subscribe to newsletters, join online professional communities, follow LinkedIn influencers, and listen to podcasts related to their field. 

If possible, encourage them to attend one major industry event or conference at least once a year.

Seeking out mentorship opportunities

For managers who are brand new to the company, you may want to set up a ‘buddy’ or mentor system. An informal mentor can share their experiences, introduce the leader to others, and help them get comfortable in their role more quickly.

If your manager was promoted internally and is new to the job rather than the company, you may want to suggest a management-level mentor who can coach them through the transition and help them understand the organization from a different perspective.

Prepare new managers for success with Leapsome

A screenshot showing a step-by-step customized Leapsome learning path to enable new managers and new hires.
Empower new managers to lead with confidence by designing customized learning paths for essential skills — from meeting management to strategic planning

The first few months are pivotal for a new manager as this sets the stage for them to make a strong contribution to their team as well as the broader organization.

A robust onboarding process is essential — and Leapsome can help. 

Here’s why Leapsome is the best comprehensive tool for human resources teams that are looking to enable their leaders: 

  • Onboarding and continued learning — Our Learning module provides interactive, engaging, and personalized onboarding that’s easy to use and set up. For continued development, you can tailor flexible learning paths to individual leaders integrated with defined development frameworks.  
  • Defining clear, multi-level objectives — Our Goals module helps new managers quickly and easily align personal and team objectives with overall organizational goals — and visualize those relationships as cascading goals. 
  • Running effective meetings — Our Meetings module helps leaders run meetings that make a difference by integrating shared agendas, talking points, action items, and follow-ups.

Make the first months count by using Leapsome’s holistic, integrated platform to support and develop your new team leaders. 

💡 Help new leaders hit the ground running

Leapsome provides onboarding and training workflows, tools for 360-degree feedback, and clear meeting structures to set new managers on the path to leadership success.

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Written By

Leapsome Team

Written by the team at Leapsome — the all-in-one people enablement platform for driving employee engagement, performance, and learning.
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