Team Dysfunctions Blog — Engage

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.



We Can Help You Create a Great Team!

Posted in: Engage, Retain, Select, Team Dysfunctions  on January 16, 2014

There is so much information out there on building great teams, best hiring practices, and advice on working together effectively. This is what synergize! does best! Allow us to sort through and decipher it all then keep you well informed so you can spend your time on what you do best.

synergize! works with organizations to provide customized programs to hire and develop productive teams. From analyzing a job to hiring at any level to providing team building and leadership coaching synergize! can help you create a great place to work, where your employees are energized and engaged and where everyone loves going to work.

We also use Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to help our clients learn more about how to create exceptional teams where each employee loves going to work. You will find:

  • Information to help you Hire Smart. Hire Right.
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  • Information on upcoming workshops that are open to everyone

And in our new and improved website to be launched first quarter 2014 you’ll find:

  • Helpful Hints for Hiring
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So please visit us on social media and invite your friends and colleagues to do the same! You are sure to find useful information that will make a difference for you – and for your team.




Are you running on empty?

Posted in: Engage, Retain, Team Dysfunctions, Workforce Issues  on November 9, 2012

It happened again.  Well, actually, it’s happened several times in the last few weeks … a competent, conscientious, this-would-be-an-ideal-employee kind of person talked with me about looking for another job while she is still employed.

Why?  “They haven’t given me the resources I need to do my job.  So I am not successful and then they criticize me for not making the numbers.  It’s all about the numbers.  I know the numbers are important, but how can I get there without support and the resources I need?”

She is running on empty.

Really – you’d think employers would have it figured out by now.  SO HERE IS A MESSAGE TO ALL EMPLOYERS:

  1. Tell your employees what you expect
  2. Give them the tools they need to do the job
  3. Provide them with feedback – encouraging and constructive as needed
  4. Say thank you once in a while
  5. If you need to be reminded why it’s important to pay attention to employee engagement, check out this recent post by the Harvard Business Review.

Practically speaking, that could be the end of this post.  But here’s a question for you: what responsibility do employees have?  Sure, employers could do a better job of engaging their workforce.  And their companies would do a lot better financially if they did.  But sometimes you just gotta ask for what you need.  SO HERE IS A MESSAGE TO ALL EMPLOYEES:

  1. Ask questions to clarify expectations – and start before Day One, when they offer you the job.  Before you take it, don’t you want to be sure you can meet those expectations – and want to meet them?
  2. Ask for what you need.  They may not realize they’re not giving you the tools to do the job.  (I actually had a client that hired mechanics and didn’t bother to tell them they had to provide their own tools.  They’d show up the first day sans tools and miss the first day of work because they weren’t prepared.  The amazing thing was, the company didn’t realize how easy a fix this was!)
  3. Remember – you are not a victim.  You are responsible for your career, your job satisfaction, your life.  You are the only one who can change what you don’t like.  Even if your boss is a jerk, everyday you get to choose who you are and what you will do to get your needs met.
  4. If you want to read more about this, check out this recent post by the Harvard Business Review.

By all means, look for that other job if they aren’t providing you what you need.  Just remember – you are in control.  If you’re running on empty, start looking for a gas station.

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?

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