The New Guy Could Be the Bad Guy

How to Successfully Onboard New Employees without Disrupting Workflow

5 min readOct 8, 2020

Onboarding is a system that is designed to decrease staff turnover by increasing staff engagement. It’s basically a series of processes a new employee faces before settling in on a new job. Well as you would guess, most companies like to put a lot of thought into these onboarding processes for good reason; they want the best for the company and for the employee (that may be relative, from the employees’ perspective).

But despite having to go through a rigorous onboarding or a casual and more informal process, some employees do not really end up as expected. Chances are that an employee who may have seemed perfect for the job may turn out not so perfect anymore. People are usually at their best when seeking a job, however, as we have seen it play out several times, the same people change after they get started on the job. And sadly, it becomes a bit late to intervene because nobody enjoys having to keep employing new people and losing them so quickly not to mention the costs and reputational damage to the companies.

Take a look at these stats:

- $11 billion is lost annually to employee turnover

- The average employee exit costs 33% of their annual salary

- 87% of human resources leaders have placed their employee retention attempts as a no. 1 priority

So what are we not doing right? Are there flaws in some type of onboarding processes? How do we cut through the layers of phoniness from such employees during the interview or onboarding process to ascertain their level of competence?


It starts with the interview, this is the very beginning of deciding whether a candidate is fit for a role or not. Making a mistake in this phase is almost forgivable as many companies do still have a second phase in their interview process.

It’s in this next (second) phase that you want to get to know the individual. Ask them questions and let them ask theirs. Document them. Get them to relax by trying out more informal methods. For example, tell them to come dressing casual, or let the meeting be outside the office, probably in a café or virtual, etc. this helps them to be their authentic self or at least you hope. This is why you still want to take the next part seriously, post boarding.


Not to sound negative, but here’s a second chance. Most companies after hiring, still give new employees a ‘trial’ period during which the employee is observed and after which they can become fully employed if they passed the conditions.

Now you want to get them to know what the job entails, meet their new coworkers, feel at home, and all of the shenanigans. One key thing to note is that, while you want your company to be seen as professional, you may risk narrowing your assessment of your new staff; because, in reality, most people have their guards on, especially in formal settings.

People can be layered, and good at hiding the not so pleasant sides of them, especially at work. So here are my suggestions at post-boarding for getting to see them for who they really are:

1. Casual dressing

There was this one time, there were speculations that a strike will hold but it largely depended on a meeting that the government will hold the next day. So we were still to go to work albeit yet unsure as to how the day would go. Much to our surprise, our management announced that we could go ahead to dress casually to work that day and it was a surprise because if you worked in a bank, you pretty much can tell what the dress culture is like over there. So this was Christmas to me! I wore my suspenders on a white T-shirt, packed my hair in two high buns, and by the time I finished the whole look with my pink round glasses and sandals, I was looking a happy school girl; which was exactly what I wanted and how I felt throughout that day.

Apart from how fun this will be, this is one fine way that makes employees feel more relaxed, more expressive, and at home even though at work.

2. Encourage feedback

Feedback reshapes what you do next. It fosters an attitude of openness, mutual respect and it allows you to gain insight as to what to improve upon. Having a one on one interface with your members of staff helps you relate with them beyond work-related issues.

Recently, we started something new amongst the team where we get to nominate two people and everyone will get to submit a review on their strengths and weaknesses on a piece of paper. It has to be anonymous and completely honest. After this, we’ll all meet and discuss them with these persons present. A second review will be carried out as follow up on the person’s performance after about a week or more. While this focuses more on character, the goal is to establish an environment that is more people-centric than work-centric because ultimately, the character of the people in an organization goes a long way in determining the future and success of the organization.

3. Less Hierarchy

Having worked in a typical hierarchical setting myself, I have experienced firsthand the drawbacks that come with working with a throng of supervisors and superiors. The fact that we who dealt directly with the customers’ problems had the least power to solve them was agonizing, to say the least. This made our work slow and sometimes frustrating especially when the superior or boss is difficult and/or lacks good communication and decision-making skills.

Also, an organization focused on hierarchy gives little to no room for bonding at a more interpersonal level; with less flexibility, communication, and collaboration amongst others. People become more uptight and desiring to please their bosses instead of focusing on results and output.

Disclaimer: While this may work for some, especially large corporations, the key is in understanding your own organization’s goals and values, and then applying what measures will work best.

Finally, no one wishes to work with ‘the bad guy(s)’ or be the bad guy (okay I’m not sure about this). But if it comes down to that, we could maybe give them the benefit of the doubt by adopting coping mechanisms e.g training, awards, warning, etc. However, if all efforts fail, you may want to get prepared to make tough decisions. Weigh your options and choose what’s best for the company. It’ll be so much easier, however, to be able to prevent this from happening right at the onboarding phase.

Originally published at on October 8, 2020.




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