Team Dysfunctions Blog — Develop

Six steps to effective on-boarding

Posted in: Develop, Engage, Retain, Teams, Workforce Issues  on June 23, 2015

The On-boarding from … well, you know!

It was Sarah’s first day in a new job, in a new city. Finding her way, socially and professionally, she felt the insecurity that often accompanies big life changes such as moving across the country and

No on-boarding plan leaves new hires frustrated and de-motivated.

starting a new job. It didn’t help when she introduced herself to the receptionist, who scurried off to find the boss saying, “Oh! I didn’t know we had a new person starting today!”

Ten minutes later the boss arrived, who, in spite of his reassurance that “Today is your first day. Right. I knew that.” appeared just as surprised as the receptionist did that a new employee was there, ready to start.

They didn’t have a computer for her, or an office ready or anything else for that matter. The boss instructed her to use his office and his computer while they got hers ready. He pointed out a few documents to review and he left her, sitting in his office at his computer with no other instructions about what she was supposed to do.

It was an entire week before Sarah had her own office and her own computer, and still no clear direction about exactly what she was supposed to be doing.

Bringing on a new employee can be stressful for both the employer and the employee, regardless of the size of your company.  With no plan and no direction for the new hire you risk losing a potential top performer. With a little bit of planning, though, you can create an environment where even your new hires love going to work and will become fully engaged and committed to doing their best for your company quickly. The Aberdeen Group found in a 2013 study that 91 percent of employees stayed in companies that had a well-structured on-boarding program, in contrast to only 30 percent of employees who stayed in companies with little or no on-boarding program.

Clearly it pays to have a plan.

Six steps to effective on-boarding

1. Welcome your new employees!

This can even start before day one with a hand-written, “Welcome to the team!” card. (What would that say to your new hires – and their families?!) When they do arrive make sure you are ready for them – with the right person to greet them, the tools they need to do their job – including a correctly spelled e-mail address, keys to the restroom, etc – and the structure and instruction about what they can expect.

2. Share your organizational vision, mission and values.

You already shared details of what the job entails when you offered the job (see #3). Now share the vision for your company, what you strive to achieve, what’s most important and how you want to be known in your industry and your community. Let your new hires fully understand how their role fits into this vision and mission and how important it is for success.

3. Review and clarify expectations.

Yes, you’ve already done this. Or at least you should have when you made the job offer. But it doesn’t hurt to review it again, or even to revisit it in the first few weeks. Clarify the tasks, how you expect them to be done, where to go for help and any additional expectations like attire, e-mail protocol and even how to answer the phone. Make sure they are crystal clear – and documented for future reference when they forget, because they will forget. That’s a lot easier for all of you than their having to find somebody to ask and your having to take the time to answer something that could have simply been written down.

4. Get to know each other.

Plan a “welcome on board” coffee or lunch during the first week or so to get to know each other personally. Depending on the size of the team include the people your new hire will work most closely with. The foundation of any cohesive team is vulnerability-based trust and you can’t develop that kind of trust without getting to know someone.

5. Identify the training plan.

That might mean that you first have to create a training plan, outlining exactly what skills are needed or need to be acquired in order to accomplish the expectations of the role and what guidance, training or assistance will be provided so your new hire can confidently fulfill the responsibilities of the role. Depending on your company and the position the training plan should also include spending some time with people in other departments so the new hire can not only see what they do but also how all the components fit together. That’s also a great way for the team members to get to know each other.

6. Clarify markers of success.

The training plan should include very clear, measurable, markers of success. Understanding exactly what they should know and have accomplished at 30 days, 60 days, 90 days and possibly even 120 days and one year leaves little room for either of you to wonder if they’re “getting it” and doing what they’re supposed to. It helps you identify what, if anything, needs to be adjusted. Is it something they need to do, or something you need to help them with?  That also provides you with a foundation to gauge their progress when you meet at 30 days, 60 days, etc. to discuss progress and areas you both need to improve on. Again, these should be documented processes for everything that falls within the employee’s realm of responsibility.

Do we really have to do this??

Of course not! Admittedly, setting up and implementing this process takes time. But whatever you do in the first day, week, month of a new hire lays the groundwork for success of the employee, and, in turn, the success of the business. Effective onboarding incorporates your new hires as a part of the team more quickly, enabling them to start producing the results they were hired for. And, once you’ve got the system, well – you’ve got the system!

So, do you really have to do this? No. But if you want to increase the likelihood that your new hire will be a lasting hire you need to – well, first you need to hire right to start with! – and then you need to have a plan that will get your new hire up and running and contributing in as short a time as possible.


synergize! six steps for effective on-boarding

At synergize! we know that every employee is an investment. synergize! helps you get the most out of your investment by getting the right people in place, developing effective processes to engage your team and set each new hire up for success, overcoming dysfunctions and developing top performers.


The original, written by Sarah Yohe, was originally published in the synergizer! June 2015 edition.



Death by Meeting

Posted in: Develop, Engage, Overcome, Team Dysfunctions, Workforce Issues  on July 13, 2012

Gosh – I wish I could take credit for that title … Death by Meeting.  Alas, it is the title of a book by Patrick Lencioni, owner of The Table Group and best-selling author / guru of several management books.

But, whether I came up with the catchy title or not, you gotta admit – we’ve all been in meetings like that.

And do we like being in meetings like that??  ABSOLUTELY NOT!!!  Do we tend to fall asleep in meetings like that??  ABSOLUTELY!!!

So what can we do to avoid them (besides hiding under our desks)?

  1. Understand the purpose of each meeting.  This doesn’t just mean “have an agenda” (but having an agenda is a terrific idea).  This means “know what you want to accomplish in this meeting.”  If it is a weekly staff meeting, what is the purpose of doing this every week?  What do you really need to accomplish every week?  What are the top two or three issues that must be covered? 
  2. Determine time parameters before the meeting.  (And stick to them!)  There is absolutely no reason why any meeting – other than strategy planning or team building – should take more than an hour-and-a-half.  And most of them should take much less.  Just think of how much you could get done if you didn’t waste two hours in a meeting where everybody is falling asleep?!
  3. Make sure everybody contributes.  If you have people sitting there and not saying a word, they are not being present with what’s going on.  Remember that you are paying them to be present all day and not just when they feel like it.  And how will they know what’s going on if they never say anything?  And how will you have any interesting discussions that will keep people awake if some people can get away with not contributing?  Well, you just can’t. 
  4. Clarify any decisions that were made before everybody leaves.  Then you know you’re all on the same page.
  5. Review any action items, including who is responsible.  Do this before the end of the meeting.  Then at the beginning of the next meeting, review the action items again for a status report (HINT: This is (1) one of the reasons to have the meeting, and (2) top of the agenda).  This holds people accountable, not to mention that it also ensures things get done.

Meetings really don’t have to be painful and boring.  But they do have to be purposeful and meaningful.  With a little bit of planning they can get there. 

So, what do you do if the person in charge of the meeting doesn’t know these little tips?  Well, you can forward this blog (or e-mail me and I’ll do it for you!). 

Or, as one of my clients did, read Death by Meeting and pass it around!

I would welcome other thoughts about how to avoid death by meeting …

Are you a gimme, gimme, gimme leader?

Posted in: Develop, Engage, Retain, Team Dysfunctions, Workforce Issues  on July 6, 2012

Once upon a time there were two women.

One was half my age plus 2 weeks; the other was, well … let’s just say … about my age.  (In other words, near death, according to one of my sons.  A comment he made when I was 48, and one that I’ll never let him forget, especially since I’ve reassured him I’ll have it engraved on my tombstone.  “Mom.  Near death.  After all these years.”)

The younger, Jasmine, is a very busy young woman.  She works a full time job at Nxtbook Media, owns her own business (Ruby, Inc), trains pit bulls to be therapy dogs, volunteers for the Humane League and numerous other local non-profits,  does crazy things like jumping into frigid water in January with the Polar Bear Plunge to raise money for the Special Olympics and other stuff like that, spends time with her adorable nieces, and yet still – every single time I talk with her – has the time, energy and personal consideration to ask, “What can I do for you?”

The other woman is undoubtedly also a very busy woman.  She runs a non-profit and I really don’t know what else she does except I’m sure she has a busy life, as do we all.  I met her through volunteering with another non-profit she ran.

But every single time I talk with her – whether it is in person or electronic – she asks me to give her something.  Time, financial donations, names of other people she can ask to give her something.  Now, I understand non-profits.  I know they need money and volunteers and all sorts of assistance.  But in the same amount of time I’ve had my business she’s had her non-profit.  Not once has she asked me how my business is going.  Not once has she asked what she can do to help me.  Not once has she done anything except ask me for something.

Example: I send a newsletter with a poignant, funny or off-the-wall story with some connection to life in business.  The story generates lots of comments from readers, and what does she send?  “Any time to help with our (blank) campaign?  Or promote [us] in your e-blast?”  Then she goes on to tell me all of the things she needs help with.  There’s no, “Nice story.  Any time to help with …”  There’s no, “We’re offering (blank) to all the volunteers and I thought you might be interested.”   Just gimme, gimme, gimme.

Am I bent out of shape because she doesn’t have words of praise for my eloquent newsletters?

Hardly.  Nor do I begrudge her asking for what she needs for her non-profit.  But the effect is that I will help Jasmine with just about anything I can help her with.  (She’s coming over Sunday to make curtains for her house.  Very long, ruffly, curtains that will require a lot of sangria to celebrate when finished.)  And  what do I do with the other’s requests for help?  Totally ignore them.  I do not have enough of anything to give her what she asks for.  And – as you may have guessed – I resent being constantly asked for parts of me.

Personally, I want to be a Jasmine kind of woman.  I want people to know that I care about them, that I am interested in them, and that I am willing to help them.  My personal vision is to be an inspiration to others and make a difference in their lives.  Of course, I’d LOVE to tell them about synergize! and The Women’s Center and the things I’m doing to grow my business and how they might help.  And sometimes I have to remind myself to listen because listening doesn’t always come naturally to me.  But I hope I never become a “gimme” kind of person.

Being a team leader is like that, too.  If we never offer anything of ourselves, and only ask what our employees can give us, they start to resent it.  If we have Great Expectations for them, but don’t hold ourselves to similar Great Expectations – ones that they can count on – then they’ll become less productive and won’t want to give as much.  But when we share parts of who we are, when we ask how we can help them, when we show an interest in them as people and not just as providers of a service or people we pay – then they’ll give us all they’ve got.  And sometimes more.

So … what can I do for you?

Look up

Posted in: Develop, Overcome, Workforce Issues  on September 7, 2011

I discovered recently that when I run I look at the ground.  And while it might help me avoid stumbling over a pothole, if I’m looking at the ground that means I’m not really looking at what’s ahead of me.  And then I’m not ready for what’s coming. 

On my vacation I did a 4 mile race, which means I did a pattern of running for 10 minutes then walking for two minutes.  Early in the race I passed an “older” man (who was probably my age – or younger).  Apparently he stayed behind me just about the entire way.  Hot, dehydrated and tired at the end of the race I was thankful to do a little walk before I would end with a run.

And he passed me, saying, “I’m really sorry!  You had me the entire way!”

When I looked up to see him zoom by (zoom, of course, being a relative term) I saw “FINISH” around the corner just yards ahead.   It would have been quite easy to see – if I had been looking for it.  And it would have been quite easy to finish before him, if I hadn’t lost the momentum by slowing to walk.  (He actually came up to me after the race and apologized for beating me!)

What kind of race are you running right now?  Where do you want to go?  What are you doing to get there?  Are you taking time to look up and look ahead at what’s coming?  Do you know what might potentially derail you and what might give you joy along the way?  Are you visualizing yourself at the finish?

Tunnel vision is very limiting.  If we don’t know where we want to go there’s a good chance we won’t get there.  But even if we do know where we want to go if we’re not looking for it we might miss it.

So look up.   Know where you are.  Watch where you’re going.  Enjoy each step along the way and appreciate it as moving you one step closer to accomplishing your goal. 

If you’re not sure where you’re going, contact me.  My Four Steps to Success process provides an excellent framework to help you accomplish your goals.

Hiring? No personality test needed … ?

Posted in: Develop, Diversity, Gender Issues, Team Dysfunctions, Women's issues, Workforce Issues  on August 8, 2011

“What we’re really looking for is a nice looking female to sell for us.”


Didn’t that kind of hiring go out with the collapse of Pan Am?

Apparently not – since a business owner just said that to me.

“Sex and the working girl” was cited in a recent synergize! survey as one of several challenges that women in the workforce face that men do not face. Others high on the list included work / life balance (number one at 34% of respondents), being taken seriously, pay inequities and gender stereotypes.

synergize! is excited to launch The Women’s Center to help women in the workforce deal with these unique challenges. (I mean, c’mon … can you imagine somebody saying, “What we’re really looking for is a nice looking guy who can sell for us.”)

Ummmm … I don’t think so.

The Women’s Center consists of programs designed for women to help them develop their potential, deal with their unique challenges and enjoy the support of other women in the process.  On August 23rd we will introduce the following programs and services:

  1. Peer Accountability Groups
  2. Individual one-on-one coaching
  3. The Kee to Your Future Mentor Program (a partnership with the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which will be officially launched at the October 6, 2011, Professional Women’s Forum)
  4. Our four steps to success process to develop stellar employees

Please be our guest for lunch on the 23rd to learn more about these exciting programs.  Or, if you’re not close enough to come for lunch, I hope you’ll contact us to learn how The Women’s Center can be a resource for you or for the women on your team.

  • August 23, 2011
  • 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
  • FREE lunch
  • The Hampton Inn, Greenfield Road, Lancaster, PA

The event is free but you must register to attend.  Just contact us and we’ll add you to the list!

Meanwhile … I think I’ll go look for a nice looking guy to sell for me ...

Contact Us To Get a Risk-Free Assessment

Contact us today to see how our online personality, behavior, and assessments can help you select, retain, and develop top performers. It's completely risk free and you're not obligated to work with us after the initial consultation.

Contact Us

M3 1000
Lancaster Chamber
Athena Award
Think Local