How to completely torpedo a new employee

and then act like it’s their fault…

Skip onboarding altogether

Bonus points: make sure that you don’t just go overboard with onboarding the successor with team structure and projects and conference call introductions to the key players, but ensure that you do it while the employee whose career you’re cratering is in earshot, watching, but left off of the conference calls that you should have done 3 months ago.

Don’t give them specific to-do lists…

Similarly, when you do send out a list of things to do related to a new product launch, make sure that at least 5 of the 8 are out of the control of the person you’re sending them to, but make sure you hold the new employee responsible for getting them done, even though the marketing department is already 6 weeks behind and out of budget 3 months ago, and you never bothered to introduce the new employee to the marketing team back during the (non-existent) on-boarding.

… or specific guidance

Also fun — “see what you can do to jazz up the standard team presentation” that superficially waves a hand over all the stuff you never covered in the non-existent onboarding and then wonder why there was “no value added” to a set of slides that were the limit of the depth of the your new employee’s knowledge about the team.

Bonus points when you send over a marketing calendar for external communication with customers and say “see what you can do with this.”

When you do give your new employee a specific action and due date, make sure you ignore the output that’s sent to you

When you don’t ignore the output, go waaaaaay overboard on micromanaging the content

When your meddling has dragged the document through 5 layers of mud, and you’re frustrated at the new employee for making this take so long, don’t forget to talk about that new employee to your other direct reports such that its obvious to everyone you’re not happy. Oh, but make sure you leave out the parts where your MBA supposedly gave you the expertise to write concise, useful press releases and product announcements.

What’s that? You deliberately shoved all that excess content into the first section to help justify the fact that you’re going to start charging customers for something you used to give away? And you’re concerned that a decision you made is going to be unpopular with the sales team? Then by all means, you should absolutely blame the new employee for not understanding the gravity of the situation and its potential threat to your career! You owe a serious butt-chewing to that new employee for failing to properly obscure an unpopular business decision — that’s already known and being discussed within the company — in a product announcement that (get this) will never be seen by customers.

But again, a chance to earn some bonus points — let’s have a 30-minute call with the product manager, your new employee, the marketing rep for this product line, and the head of marketing for the entire business unit, to go thru and approve the content that’s going to be sent to your boss. Let’s not actually approve it, of course. Let’s resume editing the announcement, not just line by line, but word by word. “Are you sure xxxxx is really what we want to say here? Why not yyyyyy?” You know Y? Because you already changed it off of Y three edits ago, that’s Y. Oh, and when the head of marketing jumps off the call 5 minutes in, once it’s apparent this is not an ‘approval’ call but yet another ‘editing’ call, make sure you set the congenial team-building tone by loudly wondering what feminine problem she’s dealing with that put her in a mood on the call.

Ask them to rebuild the team website, but not like the current team website, until you need it to look just like the current team website

But wait, you don’t actually want to build this on Sharepoint. Why not? Who cares! You’re the boss and you get to have it look however you want. But by all means, leave your new employee foundering in the dark for an idea, an inspiration, or any sort of guidance about the look and feel of the site, despite repeated attempts to ask you for “what’s a site you’ve previously used that you like?” So when the first ‘draft’ of the site comes in, build off the existing portal, make sure you completely chew up one side and down the other for “not thinking outside the Sharepoint box” and being insufficiently imaginative.

Oh, and make sure that in the midst of the butt-chewing, you pull up an internal site from your old company and ask “why can’t we make it look like this?” Make sure you do it in such a sweet sing-song voice that it completely obscures the fact that you were asked about this sort of guidance three weeks ago.

But no problem, because that employee is going to recover from this setback, and give you a solid forward-looking, adaptive graphics-heavy design that looks nothing like the old Sharepoint portal, and the combination of the new navigation paradigm and updated visuals have won you over and you greenlight the plan.

And at this point, make sure you ask that new employee “Are you sure you can do all this Sharepoint?”

Remember our field survey? Blow off the results.

By now, if your new employee has any soul left at all, it’s a blackened, battered, and bruised carcass of a soul, subsisting primarily on the 25¢ sodas in the company break room, and the fact that no one really notices if that new employee takes the laptop home about 2pm most days and finishes the rest of the conference calls for the day from the house, with World Cup soccer on in the background. No, the husk of a formerly-enthusiastic employee, who you hired to be an “IT project manager,” has become a 50–50 blend of a Powerpoint bitch and therapy-sounding-board for the rest of the team that’s sick of listening to you disparage everyone behind their backs. Faux-cheerleading on a team call isn’t papering over the cracks, and your new employee isn’t 3 months on the job and already interviewing at 4 other places and handing our resumes like they were political pamphlets on voting day.

And when the new employee bails out, and becomes a former employee, you’re going to talk in the past tense about what a bad fit it was, while never remotely considering — much less coming to grips with — your failures as the leader of the team that let the new employee fail.

If you enjoyed this, please let others know, so they get a chance to see it, too, since that doesn’t seem to happen nearly enough. And please feel free to share your feedback — Lord knows I need whatever I can get… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Dad, husband, game commando, veteran, Army brat, writer, teacher

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