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Things Not To Do in Engineering Onboarding

Kristen Buchanan

I’m passionate about onboarding because I know that a strong onboarding program can help employees and their companies thrive.

But let’s be honest — nobody’s perfect. Or at least, nobody’s perfect 100% of the time.

Onboarding mistakes happen. I’ve seen them with many of my clients, and I’ve made some myself!

So, as I look back on 2019, I’d like to share some examples of what the Edify team and I call “onboarding bloopers.”

Onboarding bloopers are the little details that slip through the cracks — often on a new hire’s first day — for so many companies.

While it’s my goal (and the goal of my team) to help companies keep track of each detail in the process, let’s remember that we’re not saving lives here.

It’s important to step back and laugh at ourselves and acknowledge the “oops” moments that teach us lessons.

With that, I am pleased to present our team’s three favorite Onboarding Bloopers of 2019!

#1: MIA Manager

The number one blooper that I see is the manager actually not being there on a new hire’s first day.

This happens all the time*.* A manager schedules their well-deserved time off, and it just so happens that their vacation falls on a new hire’s first day.

This prevents the new hire from meeting and connecting with their manager, who is arguably their most important contact in the company.

Solution: The best solution for preventing this from happening is an old classic: planning ahead.

#2: Where’s my laptop?

Imagine: a new hire arrives on their first day, ready and eager to start, and the company doesn’t have a computer for them to use.

This blooper is very common, even in tech companies. This usually results from a miscommunication; maybe the manager was out of town when the order request came in for the computer, so the request didn’t get processed.

If the manager isn’t directly involved in the same team as the new hire, they might not know how to request the correct laptop. There are so many reasons this type of blooper can happen.

Solution: A consolidated system for managing tasks can help cut down on these types of bloopers.

#3: Standing solo

A missing laptop is one thing…but what if the new hire is never assigned to a desk?

This happens more often than you might think, especially in companies and startups that are growing very quickly. Because they’re scaling rapidly, these companies might not have a floor plan or a facilities manager, which means details like workspaces can go unnoticed.

When I’ve seen this happen with clients, the new hire ends up just working from the lobby.

Solution: If your company is scaling quickly, make sure to have someone responsible for facility logistics and loop them in to any onboarding conversations.

I truly believe that a new hire’s first day is an important opportunity to set the tone for their employment.

But sometimes…bloopers happen.

Fortunately, the importance of onboarding goes beyond the little details.

A functional onboarding program is really about creating a relationship with the new hire, and making sure they feel supported so they have the tools to do their job and be successful in the long term.

It can be embarrassing when a manager or a desk is missing on a new hire’s first day, but ultimately companies can bounce back from these “bloopers”.

And while I work with clients to minimize bloopers as much as possible, we must remember to see the big picture.

Should your new hire have a desk on Day 1?


Does your new hire feel connected to their work, their team, and the company culture overall?

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