Here comes what looks like an easy read—but not a banal one. The truth is that many many many companies manage the onboarding or their new managers or employees badly and they know it—and the candidates know it too.
The factor that might save you as a hiring manager is that your new hire is in the honeymoon phase for the first weeks. Otherwise, you might demotivate them on day 1.
If, however, demotivating your new hire is what you want to do, here comes our list of 10 Worst Practices for Onboarding – all from what we have heard or seen in the market:
- Do not communicate the name and function of the new hire to the team: This will allow you to see how your new hire copes with the unforeseen and operates under stress. It will also show you whether they are able to introduce themselves properly and gain acceptance from the team. The ability to make an impact without you holding their hand is what will bring them further into your organization
- Do not order a computer and business cards prior to their starting : After all, maybe the new hire will not show up and if that happens, then you would loose the money. If they are winners, they will make it without a computer anyway and having no business cards will sharpen their elevator pitch—a tool much more important than hardware or small paper cards
- Provide your new hire with a dirty desk and/or dirty company car: At Apollo Executive Search, we’ve observed that the expectations of various C-level jobs are shifting. They have moved closer to operations than before and being „hands-on“ is the new black. Test the „hands-on“ mentality of your new hire! If they take a cloth and clean the drawers of their desk or car without complaining or seemingly feeling humiliated, then they have the right attitude!
- Introduce the entire team on the first morning, then give the new hire a manual to read and leave them alone in their office: You only get one chance to make a good first impression and if your new hire is really the self-starter they claimed to be in the interviews, then they will find their way. The hire can also prove that they have a good memory for names and faces when you show them around (very fast) within their first three hours on board. You do not have to babysit them, just trust and give autonomy- the rest will fall in place by itself
- Change your new hire’s responsibilities from what was initially discussed: Adapting to a fast changing environment is a crucial skill for top-performers. Check out how your hire will react if you change their job description, reporting line or the team they are to manage. If the hire proves to be the right person (maybe they won’t make it), you can always enrich the job later
- Do not have an integration plan: Ensuring there is no agenda for the first week will demonstrate to you how your new hire manages uncertainty. As times have changed and 3 year plans belong to the past, this is a key competence for survival in today’s marketplace. Thus, your new hire has the chance to prove themselves, right from the start
- Avoid arranging one-to-one meetings with (other) Managers: Bear in mind that your new hire has a lot of information to digest and probably feels stressed. Do not put extra pressure on the hire by organizing meetings with key decision makers who would confuse them by talking about responsibilities and expectations. This may come later (but does not have to)
- Warn your new hire of difficult people within the organization: It shows your goodwill to say, „Be very careful with the CFO. He is… difficult!“ Make sure your new hire is properly briefed and help them to identify the bad apples. They need your help with this, otherwise, there is a risk that the new hire will meet the new colleagues neutrally— and we all know that this cannot be good!
- Do not communicate how the new hire’s success will be measured. Ideally, do not give any goals for the first three months: The first 90 days are for getting to know the team and processes, yet it would be unrealistic for you to expect results. If you reviewed the job duties during the interviews, then this is sufficient
- Peter Drucker wrote extensively on management—Ignore him: With all due respect, Peter Drucker is a dinosaur of the 20th century. Asking questions such as „where can you make a difference?“ or „what can you bring to the company?“ will only serve to highlight your weaknesses as a leader. You are the boss and there should be no doubt about it. The new hire should listen and observe for the first—let’s say three years, yet it would be premature to ask for input. After all—you wouldn’t ask an infant to drive a car, would you?
Parting thoughts: Statistics support this approach: up to 20% of new hires leave their new employer within the first 45 days and half of senior leadership is gone after 18 months. As this is very costly, it is much better to know it after 15 days rather than after 45 and rehire early. And, if your new hire does not make it through the above 10 steps, they are probably not worth it!