By Michael Gunther

You may have heard this story before where a leader spent a significant amount of time in recruiting the right person for a key position within their organization. Then, within the first few weeks of the new hire employment there is disappointment in the individual’s performance. Comments like – “they must have oversold themselves in the interview process” or “I thought they said they had experience doing this type of role,” etc. – are often heard. When approached with these situations I always step back and look at the recruiting and the onboarding processes for the organization.

I recently saw this situation happen with a client of ours. They went through an exhaustive recruiting process and found a great candidate. References were stellar and the interviewers all felt this individual was the top candidate. An offer was made and within seven working days of employment the owner called believing they made an error in the hiring of this person.

As I dug deeper into the situation, it was apparent the recruiting process didn’t fail but it was the onboarding process for this new person that failed. The person had all the technical skills and experience for the role, but was new to the industry. The manager of the person did a half hour onboarding process on the first day of employment even though a 30-day onboarding process had been outlined. After speaking to the owner, they began to realize it wasn’t necessarily the new employee that wasn’t working, but the way they bring new people into their organization that was the struggle.

The client began to understand that they threw all the functions and needs of this role at this new employee without any assistance in prioritization or expectations. The new hire was drowning trying to figure out the existing systems while also trying to learn industry specific issues. In addition, the new hire was replacing an individual that had subpar performance and left prior to the new hire joining the team. Therefore, there was no one that had performed the tasks to teach the new hire.

Needless to say the owner soon realized they actually were setting this employee up to fail. The client was going to start their recruiting process again, but I recommended they start by first sitting down with the new hire and reviewing their 30-day onboarding plan. I outlined to first, find out where the new hire was knowledgeable and where they needed help. Second, meet weekly to review the onboarding plan to see progress in the new hire in getting up to speed in their role. Third, assist the new hire prioritizing all the “I need this right now” items to a more manageable list.

It turned out the struggling new hire truly was capable and wanted to do a good job. This new employee quickly got up to speed and continues to become an even more invaluable member of the management team. Luckily for my client they didn’t give up on this person too soon. They had the right individual, but it was the lack of a strong onboarding process that was preventing their new hire from excelling. The interesting aspect was the owner then evaluated their last three new hires and reviewed how they were doing in getting up to speed. All three individuals had areas they still weren’t comfortable in, but now had a clear plan to get them trained in those areas.

Lesson here is don’t give up on your team too quickly. Are there management or training issues preventing your team from performing at the level you want them too? I truly believe most employees want to do a good job for you and your organization ­­– so help them be successful in making that a reality.

Bottom Line

Remember new employees chose to work for you and are eager to do a good job. Set them up for success with clear expectations, but more importantly a clear path of training and knowledge to get them up to speed quickly. The time spent with them will pay off quickly both in their confidence and productivity.


This is another article in a series on Michael’s entrepreneurial story and how being raised in a large family and his belief in creating a growth company with a work-to-live mentality has influenced his career.  Michael Gunther is Founder and President of Collaboration LLC, a team of highly skilled business professionals who are dedicated to assisting proactive business owners to build profitable, sustainable businesses through results-oriented education and consulting services. 

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