How to Lose Your New Employee in 10 Days

You’ve just made a promising new hire. But when she shows up to start work, all that effort that you put into recruiting the right person can go up in a puff of smoke when her first weeks aren’t well planned out.

If you want to undo all the energy you spent recruiting and ensure that your new hire gets off on the wrong foot – and possibly never recovers – here are five steps to thoroughly destroy the promise and enthusiasm you saw in her.

1. Be entirely unprepared for the new employee’s first day. Seem surprised when she shows up – or better yet, don’t be there at all when she arrives and have left no instructions for anyone else to greet or orient her, and simply leave her sitting in the lobby until you stroll in an hour later. Then, take her to her desk but realize that you don’t have her computer logins set up yet, let alone any work for her to start on. Hand her a bunch of company brochures and suggest that she spend today reading them. (Bonus points: Schedule her first day while you and other key players on her team are on two-week vacations. Don’t tell her this until she shows up.)

2. Don’t introduce your new hire to the rest of the team. Sure, you could take her around to meet other members of the team and key people in other departments – or you could stash her in her office and figure that she’ll find out who people are eventually. If you’re going to successfully terrify your new hire, you’ve got to go with option two: isolation. There’s nothing like starting a new job, having no idea who anyone is, and watching them all head off to lunch together while your stomach rumbles hungrily to start a first day off right.

3. Provide little to no training. After leaving her with nothing to do on day one, day two is the time to load her up with projects – but don’t give her any guidance. Have high expectations and just hope she finds a way to meet them. It’s sink or swim, baby!

4. Forget about promises you made in the interview. You might have a vague recollection of your new hire negotiating to work from home one day a week or to play a meaningful role on your strategy team. But she can’t really expect you to stick to those commitments, right? Promptly forget about them and give her a blank look if she inquires.

5. After a week, drastically change her job. Yes, she signed up to do work with clients, but hey, now that she’s on board, why not instead have her handle this six-month backlog of data entry that no one else has time for? If she balks, point to the “and other tasks as assigned” line in her job description.

Change your mind yet? If this doesn’t sound like the right plan after all and you want to set your new hire up for success, we’ve got tips on doing that right here.






Alison Green

Alison Green writes the popular Ask a Manager blog where she dispenses advice on career, job search, and management issues. She's also the co-author of Managing to Change the World: The Nonprofit Manager's Guide to Getting Results and former chief of staff of a successful nonprofit organization, where she oversaw day-to-day staff management, hiring, firing, and employee development.

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  • Kevin Bayer

    This happened to me at my current job! (Which I started at last year, and am about to move on from.) It also happened to at least two of the more recent hires after me. It’s painful to have that happen to you, and painful to watch it happen to new hires who have no idea what they’re getting in to.

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  • Ashley Stryker

    How often does this sort of thing happen? A lot of it seems like common sense…

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    Linda Reply:

    Absolutely happens. I read the article with my jaw on the desk, because this is exactly what happened to me in one of my previous jobs. Got hired, showed up for work, and the boss left for a 3 week vacation the next day.
    Never got shown around.
    Didn’t get trained – I trained myself during the 3 weeks she was gone and actually felt like I was doing a great job, all things considered. Then she came back and decided to train me then. Well, by then, I’d already established a working relationship with the people I would be dealing with. So having her “train” me then undid everything and caused all of us to start back at the beginning. We lost a lot of time and effort with this.

    I was told the person before me left for reason that wasn’t true. Turns out, the working environment was so bad that she finally left. Not what I was told, but it sure would have been good info to have! She was promised a promotion and a raise at one point that never materialized.

    I’m stunned to see that my experience isn’t as unusual as I’d thought. That the article actually described it perfectly.

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    Snoopy - Your Friendly Neighbo Reply:

    It’s become common place because companies are so cheap, they think people are now capable of just taking on the role without needing any kind of training. College doesn’t prepare everyone with everything they need to know to do the job. Having skills are one thing, but company protocol is another, and can’t be accounted for.

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  • Snoopy – Your Friendly Neighbo

    This has seriously happened to me at jobs before. It’s hilarious reading it now…

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