Onboarding An Internal Hire

Promoting from within is a testament to the talent and potential within your organization. When a team member is elevated to a managerial role, it’s an opportunity for growth and development. However, ensuring a smooth transition from individual contributor to team leader can be challenging. In this blog post, we’ll discuss how to onboard a new team leader promoted from inside the organization, identify potential pitfalls, and provide strategies to mitigate associated risks.

Understanding the Unique Challenge

Promoting from within is a sound strategy for maintaining institutional knowledge and retaining top talent. However, it presents unique challenges, including:

1. The Transition from Peer to Leader: A team member who was once a peer must now navigate a shift in their relationship with former colleagues. This transition can be challenging, as they must balance authority and camaraderie.

2. Learning New Responsibilities: Leadership roles often come with a host of new responsibilities, such as team management, decision making, and performance evaluation. These changes require adaptation and skill development.

3. Avoiding Complacency: There’s a risk that a promoted team member may become complacent or rest on their laurels, thinking they already know the organization inside out.

Pitfalls to Avoid

To ensure a successful transition, it’s crucial to identify potential pitfalls and take proactive steps to mitigate them:

1. Lack of Formal Onboarding: Assuming that a promoted team member doesn’t need onboarding is a common mistake. Every leadership role is unique, and proper onboarding is essential to ensure they’re set up for success.

2. Failure to Address Perception: Colleagues’ perceptions of the newly promoted leader can significantly impact their effectiveness. Failing to address any negative perceptions can lead to resistance and friction within the team.

3. Neglecting Skill Development: Leadership skills are not innate; they must be developed. Failing to provide training and support can hinder the new team leader’s ability to excel in their role.

4. Overlooking Team Dynamics: Changes in team dynamics can create tension or resistance. Ignoring these dynamics can lead to decreased morale and productivity.

Strategies to Mitigate Risks

Now, let’s explore strategies to effectively onboard a newly promoted team leader and mitigate the associated risks:

1. Develop a Comprehensive Onboarding Plan

Creating a tailored onboarding plan is the first step. It should include:

  • An introduction to their new responsibilities and expectations.
  • A mentorship or coaching system.
  • A clear timeline for progress assessments.

2. Address Perception and Communication

To manage colleagues’ perceptions, encourage open and transparent communication. The new team leader should:

  • Have one-on-one conversations with team members to discuss the transition.
  • Listen actively to concerns and address them with empathy.
  • Clearly articulate their vision and goals for the team.

3. Invest in Leadership and Management Training

Offer leadership and management training that covers essential skills such as meeting rhythms, setting expectations and delegation, performance management, etc. Tailor the training to the specific needs of the new team leader.

4. Monitor Team Dynamics

Stay attuned to changes in team dynamics. If conflicts arise, address them promptly and impartially. Encourage teamwork and collaboration, emphasizing the shared goal of the team’s success.

5. Provide Ongoing Support

Onboarding isn’t a one-time event; it’s an ongoing process. Offer continuous support through:

  • Regular check-ins and performance reviews.
  • Opportunities for further skill development.
  • Encouraging the new leader to seek feedback and learn from their experiences.

6. Encourage Self-Reflection

Promoted team leaders should engage in regular self-reflection. Encourage them to assess their progress, identify areas for improvement, and set personal and professional goals.


Promoting team members from within is a powerful way to nurture talent and maintain organizational continuity. However, it comes with its own set of challenges. By recognizing these challenges and implementing proactive strategies, you can successfully onboard a newly promoted team leader.

Remember that leadership development is an ongoing process. Invest in training, open communication, and ongoing support to ensure that your promoted team member not only excels in their new role but also continues to grow as a leader within your organization.

By taking these steps, you can navigate the path to success and foster a culture of growth and development within your organization.

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Written By:
Tara Landes

Tara Landes is the Founder and President of Bellrock. She has spent over 20 years consulting and training in small to medium-sized enterprises. A sought-after speaker on a wide range of business topics, Tara has delivered workshops and seminars at conferences and industry associations across Canada. Tara obtained a BA (Honours) in Political Science from the University of Western Ontario (UWO) and earned an MBA from UWO's Richard Ivey School of Business.

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