Overwhelming Your New Employees Will Kill Productivity

See the warning signs of a new worker who’s being taught too much.


Last week was the beginning of a new project at work. I am practicing a new role and the employee below me is only three weeks into his first career. Needless to say, we are both expanding our skills.

We began our project, like most, with a pre-engagement meeting to help familiarize everyone with the data and the client. The concepts we were covering were fairly foreign to our new employee and rarely covered in the college classroom.

As the director and I began explaining the engagement to the new associate, it became obvious we were overwhelming him. Overwhelming an employee is not good—it can discourage growth, cause unnecessary stress, and brew resentment.

Here are five signs you may be overwhelming someone:

  1. They quit laughing at your jokes.
  2. They ask no questions.
  3. They quit taking notes.
  4. They look away from what you're doing.
  5. They have gotten nothing accomplished an hour after you explained it to them.
  6. My solutions (as of now):

    • Only explain what they will need immediately and break it into steps. Giving them the project in small phases may be more work for you, but it forces the employee to check in frequently and can help develop their skills.
      • Only skim the technical skills, but provide them with resources if they want more info. If the employee is like me, most learning is done alone, with just a book and a hunger for knowledge.
      • The following day, I followed my own advice and it worked out really well. The new employee learned the programs, as well as the technical concepts, and we accomplished a fair amount on our second day.

        What methods do you use to prevent overwhelming new employees?

        Brandon Alsup graduated from Marquette University with a degree in accounting. He is working for a Big Four accounting firm in Milwaukee while seeking a master's degree in taxation at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Brandon blogs his ideas and experiences on Newly Corporate. He hopes to help other generation Ys navigate the working world and avoid the mistakes he's made.


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