Your Onboarding Should Not Be Like A Box of Chocolates

May 22, 2014

hiring right 3In our previous two articles (Part one: “High Turnover Is NOT Just Part of the Business“; Part two: “What It Takes to Attract and Hire Recruiting Winners“) we discussed whom to hire and how to attract them to your organization.

In this article, we will focus on one of the most overlooked functions of the selection process, that of establishing realistic expectations for the employment relationship.


If realistic expectations are not established between you and your new employee a state of mutual mystification will result whereby neither of you will have a clear understanding of what to expect from the other. To begin the employment relationship in a state of mutual mystification is analogous to Forrest Gump’s comments about the box of chocolates, “You never know what you’re gonna get.” This can lead to fear, confusion, anxiety, and frustration on the part of your new employee, which can produce a lack of commitment and effort. Without the proper commitment and effort, failure is assured and turnover will result.

Therefore, to eliminate this potential problem, you must ensure that your new employee has realistic expectations about the following key elements of their employment:

Forrest Gump box of chocolates1. Income Potential: This is an area of great exaggeration by many owners and managers. You must paint a realistic picture, based on your firm’s billings history. Not only should you provide the candidate with a realistic picture of the income potential but more importantly, you must provide them with a sense for the earnings timetable, based on activity generated.

2. Training: You should provide specifics on the philosophy, structure, content, and timetable of your firm’s training program. Also, detail the options available for ongoing training and skill development. This is an area where there tends to be a major gap between the new employee’s expectation and that of the owner/manager. Many times, what the owner/manager considers training, the new employee views as nothing more than an orientation. In an upcoming article, we will discuss the specifics of how to develop and implement a performance based training program.

3. Performance Standards: These are the objective measurements used to evaluate the performance of your new employee. Therefore, in order for your new employee to know “how” they are doing, they must know “how” they are measured. In our next article, we will discuss how to establish, monitor and manage your organization through the use of performance standards.

4. Operating Style: Your new employee must understand your operating style and how you will interface with them on a daily basis, what they can and cannot expect from you in terms of direction, problem solving and on-going support.

5. Pertinent Developments: Surprises are great at birthday parties, but your employees should not have to function in an atmosphere of surprise management. People need to know “what’s going on,” particularly if it has a direct impact on them. Therefore, ensure that your new employee is up-to-date on everything in your firm, including people that may influence his or her view of you, your company and their opportunity.

Psychologists have shown that most people have an innate fear of the unknown. In circumstances of mutual mystification and a lack of realistic expectations, this fear can grow to the point of frustration or panic where a fight of flight response can result. Do not let this happen with your new employee.




The greatest disappointments in life are generally the result of expectations not being in line with reality

The first 90 to 120 days are critical in establishing the foundation for a productive long-term employment relationship. During the hiring process, provide your candidates with a realistic view of what to expect from you and your company, if they join your firm. By doing this, you will not only facilitate their decision making process but you will build the foundation for reality-based expectations.

Although, in and by itself, this will not guarantee success, it still remains an important component of a staffing strategy designed to decrease turnover and increase profits.

In our next article we will discuss how to establish and utilize performance standards. Meanwhile, if you have questions or comments about this article or wish to receive my input on any other topic related to this business, just let me know. Your calls and e-mails are most welcome.

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