Onboarding: The First 90 Days

Onboarding a new employee and their first 90 days can be crucial to both of you. You spend so much time and effort finding the right people.  However, what happens when they show up on Day One? How do you handle employees’ first few hours and their decisive first 90 days on the job?

A Plan

You won’t get a second chance to make that vital first impression. Yet many workplaces simply throw new hires to the wolves with a “sink or swim” strategy. Not smart! Employees who participate in a structured onboarding program are 69% more likely to remain with the company after three years compared to those who have no training.

You need a plan in place, nothing complicated, just simple training.  Therefore, this article attempts to lay out a straightforward, practical 90-day strategy to welcome employees. It gets them up to speed and helps them become fully engaged. The result: Better performance and stronger retention.


I put together some ideas to put into your planning.  First and always include the six critical steps of onboarding (call me for information) and how to implement them.  Above all and in all sessions, give the new employee a voice.  Furthermore, allow him/her to ask as many questions as needed

First Day:

Welcome your new hire with good old-fashioned hospitality. Serve coffee, donuts, juice or any other good food. Invite the entire staff or the important leaders from the employee’s assigned work areas to greet him/her.

Company Orientation:

  • The culture and values take time to completely understand. For that reason, help the new employee understand the kind of place he/she now works.
  • Basic administrative activities, such as payroll, email, etc, should be completed right away.
  • Through a benefits overview the new employee is impressed that the value of their employment with the company reaches beyond just the hourly pay or salary they receive.
  • A Handbook review, the guidelines you set forth for all employees, must be on the agenda.
  • Introduce the employee to a company overview, explaining what the company makes, who the customers are, and what each of the departments do.

Host them for a luncheon at least on the first day of the on-boarding.

Finally, make sure the new employee receives proper, current Compliance Training in harassment, violence in the workplace, ethics, and safety.

Second Day:

It’s time to move the trainee to his/her respective work areas.  This called Skill Level Training.

Begin this phase of training with an overview of the job(s), the skills they need to learn, and the performance criteria expected. Always inform your employees to expect performance reviews.

If unable to do so the first day, introduce the new employees to the team members with whom they will work.

Give a tour of the work area and show how their work and portions of the overall process affect the outcome of company’s finished product.

The First 90 Days:

Re-introduce new employees to his/her assigned trainer/mentor and explain the training process.  Provide all documentation necessary for understanding the job, the skills, and the quality requirements.

Furthermore, provide step-by-step plans for the training process. Remember to include release points for determining the success or lack of success of the employee.

As training progresses, take time to explain how each step being taught fits into the bigger picture.  Impress on the new hire the value of meeting quality requirements.  Also, never leave out the importance of communication both to and from the employee.  Make proper and appropriate communication a requirement of the job.

Conduct documented performance reviews at 30 days, 60 days, and finally, at 90 days.  Instill in the employee the understanding that a reasonable amount of time will be given to accomplish the skills necessary to do the job.

Finally, conduct the 90-day performance review with the understanding that the employee demonstrates the ability “work at speed” and perform all quality requirements.

New Employees

What matters to new employees and what they want to know from you:

  • Obviously, the number one thought of the new employee stems from the concern of how he/she fits in to the new environment.
  • Secondly, he wants to know pay and benefits.
  • Then, he will want to know there are measures of understanding in place in the expectations set forth on job performance.
  • Finally, he will want to know when to expect that his training will end and that he is considered a regular employee.

Consider this:

Research shows that almost 50% of Millennials plan to switch employers this year because their expectations about the job contrasted so greatly with their actual experience. A smart 90-day onboarding plan would stop such turnover in its tracks.

So, stop spending more time on your company picnic than you do on your onboarding process. Unlock the secrets to create a simple but effective 90-day onboarding program that will help you achieve two of your most important HR goals – higher productivity and lower turnover.

Call Don Swift and Associates for help and guidance when you begin your onboarding process.


Positioning Yourself for Upward Mobility

Middle Management

Middle managers serve a vital role within any organization, but often desire upward mobility. If you are middle management, you bridge the gap between top administration and the support services staff. Therefore, the responsibility of implementing strategic plans falls on your shoulders, right down to the smallest of details. You enjoy the challenges of working to keep your employees and customers happy and satisfied. Likewise, you may love your job and are happy to carry out these directives. consequently, you see the results firsthand, but eventually, you may want more from your career.

Do you find yourself thinking you have what it takes to accept more responsibility? Do you want to continue your upward climb within the organization? There are not as many top-level positions available as people desiring them. What can you do to make sure those leaders making the decisions about promotions recognize your talents and abilities?

Upward Mobility

Five ways to position yourself for upward mobility …

Practice situational awareness.

This is a key within any organization. So, study the dynamics when key players within upper management interact with one another. Take notes on the different topics, initiatives the players wish they had time to accomplish, etc. File this information away in your brain.  Furthermore, start deliberating ways to help them accomplish their outspoken goals. This keeps you in touch with the inner workings and needs of upper management. Conversely, know what topics to avoid, what topics set them off, and what they consider a waste of time. Listening is key.

Think “big-picture”.

Start asking yourself, “What piece of the organizational puzzle am I contributing today?” Recognize the significance and the role you play in moving the organization forward, the 20,000-foot view. This simple shift in thinking prepares you to interact with upper management.  It puts you in their mindset where the welfare of the overall organization is first and foremost each and every day.

Volunteer for additional responsibility.

Let your supervisor know you crave more responsibility. Volunteer for special projects. Never turn down an opportunity to work with other people in your organization. Every experience gives you opportunity to show your talent. It also widens the circle of people who report to your supervisor about you. You can’t be everywhere all the time. You want others talking about your leadership abilities and how easy you are to work with, even when you are not around.

Declare your goals.

Make an appointment enlighten your supervisor about your end-goal. Ask for their advice on self-improvement to be considered for upper-level responsibilities.

Don’t take constructive criticism personally.

Show upper management you respond positively to constructive criticism. It shows a highly regarded level of professionalism and objectivity among upper management. Show them a level of proactiveness and willingness to create change.


Middle management is incredibly important to all organizations. The above tips can be useful regardless of your ambition. Every organization is different, but most leaders are looking for the same thing when looking for new managers. We want strong, independent, critical thinkers who know how to inspire others and get work done.

A professional coaching package is available if you are interested.


How to Manage Employee Types

Four Employee Types That Drive You Nuts and How to Manage Them

Most workers are managed fairly easily. They understand that if they don’t get their jobs done, they could ultimately be replaced. Nearly every worker easily grasps that concept. Many know enough to link their performance with raises, bonuses, and other goody-bag perks, such as the ability to work from home occasionally. They balance competitiveness with civility and usually avoid making a lot of trouble for you.

The Challenge

However, every workplace has that one employee—or maybe more—who thrives on being downright difficult to manage. The reason is not a lack of productivity. The worker seems to sport a personality that makes a boss wonder why he or she became, or wants to remain, a boss much longer. Managers, do you (unintentionally) enable employees by rewarding negative behaviors? (Check out: 5 traits managers must have to effectively deal with Challenging Employees.)

Don’t let a challenging employee infect your entire work group.  Let workplace expert Marie McIntyre’s 10-step “coaching road map” teach you how to handle all those multiple personalities at work.  Read Managing & Motivating the 7 Most Challenging Employee Types.

  1. The Entitled

  2. These employees come in two varieties: (1) Those who believe that their skills, knowledge, or mere presence are an absolute necessity to the survival of the organization; and (2) those who have been there so long they think they’ve earned the right to do things on their own terms.

Either prima donna, as an employee, can quickly douse workplace morale. As uncomfortable as this might be, you and your managers must crack down on this person. Your reputation as an effective HR professional rides heavily on it.

Rote, low-level, must-do assignments work on both entitled prima donna-type employees. This type of assignment sends the message that the organization will survive without certain individuals.  Consequently, it also shows both types of employee that you are still the boss.

  1. The Connected

  2. Unlike the entitled, the connected employees pull their strength not from their misguided thoughts, but from someone above your head. For whatever reason, they are liked and protected. It’s not so bad when these employees are productive, but that’s seldom the case.

Other employees become keenly aware of the corporate umbilical cord and look to you for help disarming the connected employee. Document shortcomings for these employees. You might be surprised when your boss supports you once you produce evidence of a genuinely poor performer. The CFO’s allegiance to one of your subordinates may not be as strong as you imagine.

The Self-Absorbed

Self-Absorbed employees are, for the most part, productive. As a result of their self-absorption, however, their productivity stays in their own sphere.  These folks are not team players and rarely make an overture to help anyone else or see collaboration as a positive thing. They hoard their ideas, making zero contributions at meetings.  Such a person may have low confidence and high need for recognition. Give it to them.  Help them share their “wealth” with others. Most noteworthy, there’s an ego at play here.

  1. The Rabble-Rouser

  2. Otherwise known as the office gossip, naysayer, fault-finder, and comedian (at the company’s expense, of course), the rabble-rouser has a magnetic personality.  They attract disillusioned co-workers and other misplaced bullies.  Levity is one thing, but you need to move in fast to stop the rabble-rouser from forming a destructive “peanut gallery” that thinks everything is a joke: the organization, the policies, their co-workers and yes, you.

Now isn’t that enough to make you want to show them who’s boss?  Tolerating these harmful behaviors is definitely NOT the best solution. Learn specific coaching strategies to help you manage and motivate the seven most difficult employee types.

P.S. If you find this newsletter helpful, please consider sharing it with your friends, family, and colleagues. If you need assistance, call 940-228-0550. 

Six Ways to Treat an Angry Employee

The Angry Employee

Sooner or later, a manager must be the bearer of bad news. If it’s a termination or disciplinary notice, employees may react with anger. If the anger is directed at you, it’s perfectly normal to become frustrated and defensive. Learn how to resist this impulse and maintain control of yourself and the situation.

Acquire a way to set aside the personal attacks and the guilt employees aim at you and the company. In most cases, the person being disciplined earned the consequence. They may not want to take responsibility and will blame you, the company, the system, their life, etc. Don’t get caught up in that game.


It is like my high school teacher once told me when I asked why he had flunked me in a class.  He said, “I didn’t fail you. You worked hard to earn that F, just like others worked hard to earn their A’s.” If you find an employee is playing the blame game and is diverting the discussion away from him or herself, focus on the legitimate business issues, and don’t make judgments.

From raunchy reality shows to parent brawls at Little League games, incivility seems to be everywhere.  Therefore,rudeness has also invaded the workplace. Squabbling employees, screaming managers, colleagues who never respond to emails, co-workers who send texts while you’re talking to them… all these people seem to have forgotten the basic rules of courtesy and respect.

Remain Controlled

To help keep an angry employee under control, you must keep yourself under control. These six tips can guide you when confronting an angry employee:

  1. Stay calm. Watch your tone of voice and volume.
  2. Watch your non-verbal signals. Stay away from confrontational body language such as finger pointing, hands on hips, eye rolling, or crossed arms. Stay out of personal space. Certainly, avoid physical contact, even if it’s meant to be reassuring.
  3. Be respectful. Always avoid embarrassing the person or making them feel ashamed. These frustrations only escalate their anger.
  4. Allow the employee to talk. Give the employee a chance to tell his or her side. Oftentimes, an employee’s main frustration stems from concerns that he isn’t being heard. Unless he is being disrespectful or out of control, let him speak.
  5. Use active listening. Repeat back what the employee has said in your own words. Example:“Mary, if I understand you correctly, you are angry because you feel you are being discriminated against because you are the only woman in your department.  Also, you feel frustrated because you expect me to do more than I’ve done about your complaints up until this point. Is that correct?”
  6. Retain control of the conversation. End the meeting if the employee grows more agitated as the conversation progresses. Reschedule the meeting after a brief cooling-off period, when the conversation can be more productive.

Assess the outcome

Take time later to reflect on the confrontation. Was the person calmer when you finished or more upset? What did you say or do that helped the situation or made matters worse? Reflecting on your words, actions, and outcomes will help you be more effective next time.

P.S. If you find this newsletter helpful, please consider sharing it with your friends, family, and colleagues. If you need assistance, call 940-228-0550. You can visit my website for more information at www.donswiftandassociates.com.

Building a High Performing Team

What exactly do you expect from a high performing team?

A high performing team exceeds the goals you set.  They work hard and smart as a group, not as individuals, and they enjoy working together. Most teams never reach the high-performing stage. That is the reason they are so special when you finally achieve this feat. You can help a team reach a high-performing state through a number of basic steps.

  1. Plan What the Team Will Look Like

Before you recruit your first person, document what your team has to achieve and the date by which it should be completed. This can be done through a project charter or another document that details what the team will achieve together. It is important to offer your team a common understanding of their purpose and expectations.

However, don’t stop there. Think about the team culture you want to build, the dynamics of your team, and how they should work together. Define all you want from your team in a team charter.

  1. Add the Right People

Building the right team is harder than it looks. It’s easy to recruit the wrong person, and it’s even easier to build a team that doesn’t perform well. Often you cannot pick and choose each team member. When you can, choose candidates who fit the job description aligned with good interpersonal skills. Bring in people who get along well with others. I have never seen a high-performing team made up of people who want to work by themselves.

  1. Create a Team Culture 

If you’ve hired like-minded people, begin by having them work together on specific tasks. Put them in pairs, but constantly switch the people in the pairs, so they get to know others in the team. Strengthen the relationship between the team and your customers. Find opportunities for the team to socialize together. High-performing teams share a common team culture, a feat that must occur as soon as possible.

  1. Motivate the Team – and Yourself

A happy, motivated team always out-performs an unhappy, unmotivated one. It starts with you. Are you happy and motivated? Your motivation rubs off on your team. If you are motivated, focus on motivating your team. Use team building and group rallying exercises to get them pumped up. Tell them how proud you are to work with them. Help them understand why the goals are important and how every team member contributes to them.

Recognize Accomplishments

People respond positively to positive behavior. So you need to constantly recognize achievement when it’s due. Tell the team about an individual’s success. Make them feel proud. Spread the love—don’t focus on one team or person too frequently.

If you plan for success, you’ll recruit a great team, build a positive culture, motivate the team, and recognize achievement. Consequently, you’ll build a healthy project team and boost your chances of success!

P.S. If you find this newsletter helpful, please consider sharing it with your friends, family, and colleagues. If you need assistance, call 940-228-0550.