6 Ways To Destroy Your New Hire

Posted By on Mar 14, 2011


Although the economy shows signs of improvement, it can still be quite difficult to gain approval for that all-important new hire requisition. But despite these challenges, you’ve secured the req and you’re prepared to expand your mini empire. And after reviewing hundreds of resumes and interviewing dozens of candidates, you’ve managed to lock down a top notch professional that exceeds all your selection criteria. This fresh-faced new hire is ready to hit the ground running, but are you prepared?

Congratulations – you’re about to ruin someone’s life:

  1. Rainbows And Unicorns – Competition for truly talented individuals can still be quite fierce, so maybe you painted just a smidge of an aspirational picture of the company. The backstabbing, self-promoting, fiercely protectionist, meat grinder of an organization you call home might have been presented as a collaborative, high energy, entrepreneurial, work/life balanced utopia. Hey, you just needed to get her in the door, right?
  2. Welcome Aboard! – Because you have a busy schedule you neglected to tell your promising upstart about the back-asswards way she’ll be spending her first week on the job. Onboarding is a real pain and you neglected to order her computer, aren’t quite sure where she is going to sit, don’t know when she’ll get badged and are completely unprepared for her arrival. You’re largely indifferent toward her plight since “it’s just the way things are around here“.
  3. The Real Job – Once she’s finally settled in you get a chance to update her on a “slight change of plans“. The good news is that she’s going to “be able to develop some new skills as a result of a sudden shift in responsibility”. So, she should really get cracking because you need her to be up to speed on her new areas of responsibility in a few days. Everybody knows job descriptions “are just guidelines” and she should understand that in today’s fast moving market (emphasizing “fast moving” with rapid finger snaps) she really needs to be flexible if she’s going to succeed.
  4. A Self-Starter – Let’s face it, there’s a lot going on in the organization right now and you simply don’t have the time or inclination to hold someone’s hand. You hired her because she seemed to know how to take initiative so she should be able to navigate the halls of the company and figure out who knows what. And if she has questions, check with your administrative assistant since he really “keeps the lights on around here”. She shouldn’t worry – trial by fire is healthy.
  5. Mirroring – Your managerial style involves team conference calls at 7:00 AM, working though lunch, ordering in dinner and keeping your employees always accessible in your personal corporate catch-and-release program. This is what led to your success in this firm so there’s no question that weekend assignments, off hour discussions or cancelled vacations are the norm. If you can do it so can she, so she better learn your habits and clear her calendar.
  6. Miss Manners – What’s with these employees who need constant reinforcement? Thank you comes in the form of a paycheck, so she shouldn’t expect to earn praise or kindness until she shows you something unexpected. She’ll know if you don’t approve of her work and should spend less time seeking feedback and more time focused on her job. And yes, there’s always something better that could have been done.

Wow, it feels good to get all of that off your chest, doesn’t it? Okay, okay… so maybe you have a problem with turnover and your reputation isn’t stellar (per that moronic 360 degree whatchamacallit) but you’re a very busy manager and you get it done. And as for this newbie? Everyone needs to stop sweating it – she’ll be just fine.

26 Comments

  1. Mark, this is so true. Four out of six of these things happened during my last employment tenure. No wonder why I wanted to start my own business. Great blog.

    Ann

    Post a Reply
    • Thanks for the comment Ann and I’m so sorry (but not surprised) to hear that you’ve personally endured these nightmares.

      Post a Reply
  2. Mark, you have sent chills up my spine with this beautifully crafted reminder of why I am self-employed. Have you considered bringing this keen insight into corporate America by doing some consulting?

    Post a Reply
  3. Thanks Mark as always enjoyed the read.

    Post a Reply
    • Thanks Chris. I wrote this on a plane after personally observing a few too many of these traits.

      Post a Reply
  4. Your observations are absolutely accurate – as a HR Consultant I spend hours explaining on-boarding to clients – you have summarized the issues in 6 points. Thank you

    Post a Reply
    • Thanks Deborah. Based on what I’ve been witnessing lately there should be plenty of work for helpful experts such as yourself.

      Post a Reply
  5. Mark…great points and I’ve seen his happen too many times to great hires

    Post a Reply
  6. Superb! Love the rant Mark. The rareness of onboarding individual talent (which is even more rare lately, as you noted) really exacerbates this “dear in the headlights” problem. On the positive side, I have seen managers turn onboarding into a significant event, rallying the whole team to become enthusiastic supporters, and making the individual feel quite special. Key is to see it as the big event it is.

    Post a Reply
    • Thanks Amy and I love the “big event” mentality that you’ve outlined above. I wish that were more pervasive and have personally never experienced what you’ve described.

      Post a Reply
  7. Great post Mark – love the humor and spot on with the first day experience!!
    I have seen it from BOTH sides. Maybe the tag line to this article should be
    “…. AND have them eagerly start taking calls from recruiters by the first week !! ” unfortunately, employers are at risk of loosing great talent when the on-boarding is handled so poorly.

    Post a Reply
    • Couldn’t agree with you more, Jody, regarding the “risk of losing great talent”. HR/recruiting can get everything right but a shitty manager can undermine that success in a heartbeat.

      Post a Reply
  8. You painted a true picture of the way it is unfortunately. It is a complete sham and destroys any illusion the new hire had about the challenge. What you have said is quite the way I have experienced it. What it does is chase people away and word of mouth will then put others off joining. I worked for Digital Equipment Corporation and it was the best company I ever worked for. Everything the promised, they delivered on. I stayed with them for over 12 years and most other employees stayed with them even longer. They were truly able to get the best people and keep them.

    Post a Reply
    • Thanks for the personal case study, Rene. Did DEC’s successors (Compaq and HP) keep that dream alive for you or were their processes less successful (in your opinion)?

      Post a Reply
      • Mark, I was not around for that part as I left before Compaq bought DEC. From what I heard, they did not. The corporate cultures were so different and in some ways incompatible. I believe that the difference in DEC was that long term was more important than short term. Many companies now just play with figures. They reduce the headcount to reduce costs to show they are doing something. Initially this has a positive financial effect and is good for the share price. On the downside if you lose your best as a result not of being laid off but as a result of leaving due to work atmosphere, then it becomes a negative financial effect. The best left DEC when Bob Palmer took over the CEO, he was a short term visionist not a technologist. He basically in my opinion sold off so many profitable parts of DEC to improve short term results that there was nothing left to sell to our customers. DEC had an exceptional influence on all employees and while not everything was perfect, it was a company where everybody could have their say and everybody was respected and treated fairly. Many people worked for DEC because they really loved the work, the company, the colleagues and the conditions. It was a really great company. I have worked for may since and only RBS Coutts would be another place where work was fun and enjoyable and where there was generally respect shown to everybody.

        Post a Reply
  9. Actually, the job I am about to leave provided me with all six when i started 2 years ago. I was recruited by a headhunter who was working on behalf of a manager who “just wanted to find someone who was nice to work with”. During my interview, the manager lied to me when I asked her about the turnover, telling me it was low. I started the job and was greeted with coworkers who were demeaning and put me down, saying, “You are not a real tech” and “you need to learn how to look at normal slides before even THINKING about looking at complicated ones”. I was trained very, very poorly in the most important station. I was given a day here, then nothing for 2 weeks. Two days, then nothing for another month. This was a complex station that requires repetition and reinforcement to learn. I was not given the opportunity, told the manager so, and she just kept saying “We don’t have the staff” in a very nasty way.
    The climate revealed itself as one where backstabbing, belittling, and little acceptance of diversity were the norm. I stayed away from the mean backstabbers, but eventually realized that they were the ones who stayed. Friend after friend after friend that I made at this organization left; one was fired. We have lost 10 people in two years. There are 10 slots in this office total. 5 slots are occupied by backstabbing bullies who stay and stay, the other 5 slots are revolving doors. I have stopped trying to make friends here because they leave.
    The employee who is targeted especially by this group leaves and they find another one. I have seen them go through 3 people in the two years I was here and now I am the fourth. I already know who will be next, they are talking about him already.
    I got a bad review because of the backstabbing; the new boss is afraid to take these women on and stop their behavior.
    I am hoping my next job will be better. :-(

    Post a Reply
    • So sorry for the delay in responding Linda. I have to say that I’ve read your comment several times over the past few weeks and I’ve seen it come to life in so many of the organizations I work with. Thank you for sharing your story. Like you, I certainly hope the next job will be better.

      Post a Reply
      • Thanks Mark. I start my new job on June 20th! :-)

        Post a Reply
  10. Hi Mark – the other part of “Welcome aboard” is to have your person take online training. Some of this training may be relevant and useful but it’s usually not applicable to what the person will need to know on the job.

    Post a Reply
    • I agree Dennis. A lot of it is CYA training and rarely have I witnessed truly high-value online coursework right out of the gate. Thanks for your thoughts.

      Post a Reply
  11. Mark,
    I read this across the pond, it was refreshing to say the least, one of the reasons I set up on my own is because of the crappy onboarding experience i had. OPnboarding is crticial and it seems the US take it seriously – I wish I could say the same for my UK and European clients, they just dont get it…
    I looked at some great stats from Silkroad and their redcarpet solution 69% of folks that go through a robust onboarding experience are likely to stay in the role for 3 years or more ( thats amazing) and day one readiness can be improved by up to 90% relate that back with time to contribute to the business, why wouldn’t you look to have a professional onboarding experience in place……thanks Jon

    Post a Reply

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Three To See – w/c 21-Mar-11 | talentjunkie - [...] Mark Stelzner‘s post to the Inflexion Point blog is my final pick this week: 6 Ways To Destroy Your …

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>