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Expectations vs. Reality – My Onboarding Experience

As a new graduate, I can’t emphasise enough the importance of onboarding and how, as an employer, it should be at the front of your mind. It’s so much more than just going through the motions, giving your new employee a computer (installing all of the countless required updates), the Wi-Fi password and an office tour. There is nothing worse than having the best candidate experience leading up to the job offer, only to be let down by a manager who doesn’t know anything about you, having arbitrary goals being forced upon you without any consideration and a team who doesn’t know where you fit in.

Luckily for me, this wasn’t my experience! Some of my classmates weren’t so fortunate.

Starting your new job as a graduate can be a nerve-racking experience. I know for me it was a big milestone and I wanted it to be as smooth as possible. I had so many questions going through my mind before my first day. Will I be able to put my degree to use? Is my lack of relevant work experience going to be a problem? Will I fit in? What support will I be provided with? What will be expected of me?

The good news is that my onboarding not only answered all of these questions, it gave me so much more.


I had some expectations about what I would be provided with when I walked in the door for my first day. Firstly, at a bare minimum, I thought I’d be provided with a brief induction that covered the administrative side of things and tasks that were specific to the role. Possibly an explanation of some standard practices for tasks and a period to learn how things run. However, I hadn’t really thought about my contribution to the onboarding process. I had only given the briefest consideration to the fact that I would have to set some goals at some point. I also hadn’t considered the impact or the role of the psychometric tests I had completed in the selection process. Would they be used as part of the onboarding? Were they even relevant once I had been hired?


Obviously, onboarding requires the basic practices of covering the job description, role requirements and administrative needs, but after sitting down with my manager it quickly became apparent that there was much more to this than I had ever expected.

Firstly, I hadn’t expected a conversation about how I had responded to the psychometric test I completed in the selection process (the Wave Professional Styles Questionnaire) and how this related to my new job. One of the first discussions I had with my manager was about the areas I felt confident in and the areas I wanted to develop. We went through ways to leverage my strengths such as Giving Support and Evaluating Problems, and how we could create opportunities to develop areas I was less confident in such as Providing Leadership. What quickly became apparent to me was that the reports were helping facilitate a valuable conversation that probably would have been much more difficult otherwise. If I’d been directly asked about my own strengths and development areas, I would have struggled to put them in my own words.

Onboarding Core Strengths 2
Onboarding Core Strengths 1
Onboarding Challenge Areas
Onboarding Core Strengths 2
Onboarding Core Strengths 1
Onboarding Challenge Areas
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Sections from the Wave Styles Onboarding Report

Interestingly, I felt the conversation gave me a lot more control in terms of expressing myself and being able to discuss how I wanted to approach my goals. It also helped provide a sense of safety that the organisation knew who I was and was invested in getting to know me. As the onboarding conversation progressed, it was clear that setting goals at that early stage wasn’t going to add value as I needed time to establish where I fitted in the business, and what my contributions would be. I was given time to understand how my goals could be shaped around my development as a member of the team and avoided any impressions that onboarding was a single meeting that would tick all the boxes and leave me to get on with the job. Instead, I was given a timeline to settle into the organisation, the freedom to explore and ask questions to help focus my direction for career development and performance.

I realise now how much I valued having this conversation with my manager. We were able to build a relationship with trust and I am assured that we can be open and honest about my work and goals, which, I think, is pivotal in any working relationship.

How to get the most from onboarding

If you think onboarding is a single sit-down meeting to tick and flick the administrative boxes, and set goals to review in 6 months or one year, then you are setting yourself up to lose your new employee. And with up to 20% of staff turnover occurring within the first 45 days of employment, proper onboarding has never been more important. To get the most out of onboarding and to avoid the issues of employee disengagement and dissatisfaction in the first few months, you need to take the time to get to know your new employee, understand their strengths and development areas and create a two-way conversation about the goals you should set.

What tools can help

The Wave Professional Styles Expert Report and Onboarding Report are great assets to aid and provide a structure to have more purposeful conversations that are likely to engage the new employee and provide them with a personal investment in the business from day one. It also creates a safe space for the employee to open up and discuss their professional direction, as their manager has shown they are interested in understanding their preferred work style, and are invested in the ongoing development of the new employee.

All of this before their computer has finished installing its updates.

If you’d like to learn more about my onboarding experience, or how you can improve your own, get in touch. Alternatively, have a look at the Wave Onboarding Report and Professional Styles Expert Report on our website.


Posted by Hadley Anderson
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