Jonathan’s Story About His New Hire

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Jonathan is a hard working manager, he’s been short staffed for some time and he was relieved when he finally got hiring approval. Jonathan desperately needed another set of hands so he used a recruitment consultant to help find him good candidates. These things take time so Jonathan was excited when he found Dave. Dave seemed to be exactly the person Jonathan needed to:

  • Start the new sales project,
  • Sort out the problems with the old database and;
  • A new set of hands to take over some of his workload.

Dave had interviewed really well – he was clearly smart, interesting and had delivered great results in his previous jobs.

The New Hire Probation Period – The Shock Results

Things were ok at first although possibly a little awkward. Jonathan didn’t feel that Dave was doing everything that he needed. Jonathan didn’t feel Dave kept him in the loop. Jonathan felt Dave’s commitment was lacking. Dave didn’t seem to have made work friends. There weren’t any major problems; it’s just that things with Dave weren’t going as well as Jonathan hoped. Jonathan wasn’t hugely concerned because he knows that it takes some time for new hires to get up to speed. So he was surprised when Dave handed in his notice during the probation period and was gone the next day.

Jonathan was back at square one and started the slog to hire a replacement.

Jonathan Should Count Himself Lucky

Jonathan’s story (not his real name) is extremely common. In fact the research is that over 50% of new hires fail to meet expectations. Actually Jonathan could count himself lucky because it could’ve been a lot worse. One in ten hires turns out to be value destroying.

Was Hiring Dave a Mistake? What is Jonathan Planning to do?

On his next hiring round Jonathan is planning to more carefully match personality types to the existing team. I agree that it’s important to match the candidate behavior profile to the role. But that’s not the real lesson in this case. See Dave is actually a top performer – Dave found another job where he’s knocking it out of the park.

Is Jonathan the Problem Then?

There isn’t anything wrong with Jonathan either. He’s a talented, caring, hard working person. The problem is that a job transition is one of the most complicated, challenging transitions you can make in life. Even talented people don’t always succeed. Moving parts can include:

  • Operational change – different business model, customers, suppliers;
  • Logistical change – different systems, ways of getting things done from as simple as getting stationery to the investment approval process;
  • Losing existing relationship networks which establish credibility. A totally new and foreign internal company political network;
  • Unfamiliar ways of working and communicating with a new boss and;
  •  Upsetting existing balance, dealing with upset internal candidates who were passed over and may actively undermine the new hire.

With so much that can go wrong – it’s not surprising that experienced, capable employees often fail at job transitions. A new job is a large investment for both the hiring manager and the candidate and sub-optimal job transitions are costly but common.

What Jonathan’s Boss Thinks

There’s nothing wrong with Dave or Jonathan but Jonathan’s boss sees that something went wrong. She’s worried that Jonathan isn’t very good at

  • Choosing the right staff or;
  • Retaining good staff.

This isolated incident isn’t a career limiting move or cause for dismissal but you can be sure that it’s noted.

Finding Good Staff. What Jonathan Could’ve done Differently:

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The process of finding good staff doesn’t end with signing the contract. That’s just the beginning of a high-performing boss-employee relationship. Most people define the process of finding a great new hire as:

  • Defining requirements;
  • Finding and attracting a pool of talent and;
  • Filtering and selecting the best talent.

But This is Only Half of the Recruitment Process.

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To maximize the return on hiring investments and reduce transition risk effective managers also: 

  • Effectively onboard new employees in a way that:
  • Builds functioning relationships and;
  •  Sets the environment for future performance and;
  • Continually motivate, develop and retain employees.

Tip: Regular one-on-one meetings with your staff not only build functional relationships and communications, but they are a good forum to:

  • Motivate and engage your staff,
  • Communicate expectations and objectives and,
  • Proactively manage employee performance. 

If you're not having one-on-ones with your staff then find out how to have effective, high quality one-on-ones by registering for the free mini-course (includes a one-on-one template and one-on-one meeting agenda):


Why the Manager Can’t Rely on the Company Induction:

Some companies have extensive induction processes but these are mostly focused on the logistical and operational aspects of the business. Learning the company expense policy and where the Fire Marshall sits is not motivational to new recruits. Managers are responsible for the performance of their staff and your company induction processes aren’t designed to maximize employee motivation. If you’re a manager who wants a dependable, well functioning team there is no-one better placed than you to motivate employees.

 With new team members, the best thing you can do is to start as you intend to continue.

Sink or Swim Eliminates the Weak – Right?

Some managers think that a sink or swim approach to new employees will ensure that only the strong survive. There’s some validity in the argument but a lot of employees will sink. A high new-employee failure rate is an expensive and time-consuming way of filtering employees. There are better ways to select staff. The ability to do a good job and the ability to transition effectively into a new job are different skills. Many successful careers are attributed to a mentor who “showed them the ropes”. Effective managers know that a good onboarding process can make the difference between a new employee who “survives” and a new employee who thrives.

You only get one chance to make a first impression. Waiting until there is a problem and then trying to fix that is much more challenging. A perfectly good hire can turn into a low performing staff member.

I Don't Have Time to do Everything - I Manage by Exception

One of the weakest manager excuses is from managers who call themselves problem solvers. They monitor the situation and take corrective action when necessary. These are the managers who complain about always being in crises mode. These are the managers rushing around putting out fires. Ruled by the urgent, neglecting the important.

With new employee onboarding, fixing a problem is a lot harder than avoiding it. How you start sends a powerful message to new employees. So start with your employees as you want them to continue. Discover more proactive management techniques to make work work with the Boss Camp program.


Hiring is a large investment in time money and resources. Far too many new hires are a disappointment. Most bad hires don’t start off as bad hires – they just have a sub optimal transition. Job transitions are complex and you can lose good employees if you don’t help them to navigate the transition. Or perfectly good hires could turn into dud hires. Traditional company induction processes are not focused on employee performance. Effective managers take ownership for the performance on their employees. Effective managers start motivating employees from day one.


Do you have any hiring tips and suggestions? Help the rest of us by sharing in the comments below. 

Further information

Knowing the benefits of onboarding employees for performance and knowing how to do it are different things. To follow a proven, time efficient onboarding process, click here.

Side Note to Employees Starting New Jobs:

What if you’re an employee starting a new job? You can’t rely on your new manager doing best practice onboarding processes. I have seen far too many new job horror stories to know that the vast majority of managers do not effectively onboard new staff. A quick look on the internet doesn’t take long to find stories of neglect  You can passively accept what comes your way or you can take ownership for doing your own onboarding. After all there are two sides to new employee onboarding: The new person has to learn about the company and the company also has to learn about the new person. Click here to find out how to have your best possible transition.

The Hiring and Interviewing Series

This is part of the Interviewing and Hiring Series. This series covers how managers can increase employee performance through hiring better employees. And how managers can avoid common hiring mistakes.

Topics in the Series Include:

Other Relevant Resources:

Power Interview Pack: The complete set of interview questions to get the best candidate for the job. Increase employee performance through hiring the best staff and avoiding bad hires. Link here. 

Hiring for Performance: How to hire the best employees and improve employee performance, engagement and retention. Link here.  

Employee Onboarding for Performance: If employee onboarding goes wrong, your new hire may leave you in the lurch or become a demotivated low performer. But motivate and integrate your new hire well and you will have a happy, productive team member. Link here.

Boss Camp

Did you know that more than half of the workforce is un-engaged, unhappy and unproductive. Because:

  • You can’t take it for granted that your employees will find meaning in their work,
  • You can’t take it for granted that your employees will be motivated,

And you are the poor manager that has to manage all of these people who would rather not be at work. This is making your life hard. We need a better way and WWW.BOSS.CAMP is about making managing easy to make work work. The program includes topics such as:

  • Proven techniques for employee selection and retention,
  • How to motivate employees,
  • What are bad employee motivators,
  • What you must do as a manager but isn't on your job description,
  • How leaders get power.