3 Steps to Give Your New Hires a Terrible, That’s Right, Terrible Onboarding Experience

Beth Miller |

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Do you want to make sure that your new employees are dazed and confused from day one? Do you know the secret to keeping them from ever reaching the heights of mediocrity, let alone actual success? Do you like having a high rate of turnover on your staff, making every day uncertain of who will be in the office or what tasks will be accomplished?

Of course you don’t.

But for the sake of illustration, here are a few pointers on how to create an unwelcoming atmosphere for your new employees during the onboarding process—you may already be putting some into action without realizing it, if you haven’t taken a good look at areas that need improvement in your onboarding.

1. Make new employees feel like they can’t ask questions.

Shift off all the responsibilities for welcoming a new employee to HR. After all, you’re busy and they’re in charge of orientation. If you establish right from the beginning that you don’t have time for your new employee’s questions on how the office functions, they will always feel too unwelcome to look to you for good answers. A less-than-available manager can cause employees to always be teetering on the edge of uncertainty about whether what they need is worth your time, and if they are actually wanted in the company at all.  Management consultant Dick Grote says that in regards to your responsibilities and those of HR, “Find out what they’ll do to orient your new employee. Everything else — all the important stuff — is your job.”

2. Socially isolate them

Another effective way to make new employees feel awkward and alone from the very start of is to keep them from beginning any relationships or helping them break into the company culture. There are several ways to do this, from putting them in an office to sign forms all day to pulling them through such a fast introduction to everyone in the company or department that all the new hire sees is an indecipherable number of faces and names. Start with this tornado of information, and they might not ever figure out who the people they see are or what they do, let alone turn to them for guidance. One way to thwart this scenario is a common onboarding technique used in many companies, which involves pairing the new employee up with a more experienced team member who can show them around, show a personal interest, let the new employee know that a complimentary breakfast is available if they show up early Friday morning, and other big and little details about working in your company.

3. Leave them confused about what their duties are and how their performance is judged

If you leave your new employee floundering for guidance and feedback on their work, by not giving them enough information in their training and not offering praise or constructive criticism on their work, they may decide that since no one is showing them the right way to do things, they can simply complete whatever quality work they are inclined to do; on the other hand, they may overwork themselves, trying to cover all available possibilities if clear goals were not provided. Both options lead to disillusionment, burnout, and surreptitious job-searching on company time. The NC Office of State Personnel suggests, to avoid this, “Spend the time reviewing the job descriptions, resources available, expectations of the new hire/transfer, what is being measured/rewarded, how it will be measured, how often it will be measured, accountability and answering new employee questions. Consider multiple meetings at 30/60/90 day milestones.” All of these techniques create a very different atmosphere of having a solid path underfoot, rather than splashing about in an ocean of new situations with no land in sight.

Is your company creating unwelcoming onboarding experiences?

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Beth Miller

Beth Miller

Beth Armknecht Miller’s passion for learning, and dedication to helping others, are strands woven throughout her distinguished career, which continue to guide her work with Executive Velocity, a top talent and leadership development advisory firm. As a trusted executive consultant, Vistage Chair, and committed volunteer, Beth holds herself to a rigorous standard of excellence, and she encourages her clients to do the same when pursuing their goals.

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