Extreme Onboarding with Alonzo Harris

Alonzo (left) and Jake (right) in Training Day. Image from The Cinemaholic.

Setting Expectations

First impressions are everything. Jake Hoyt is eager to please his potential new boss and as he sits down for his first face-to-face conversation at a diner, he begins to learn a lot about how the relationship will go. The conversation is awkward, tense, and revolves around Alonzo inflating his own ego while he demeans, berates, and continues to question Hoyt’s loyalty to his wife. This is within the first 3 minutes of them meeting.

Alonzo setting expectations… (image via Slash Film)

Direction Without Context is Worthless

There are several times throughout the day where Alonzo gives Jake direct guidance. Look at this, look at that, smoke this PCP, you know, standard first-day things. In one particular sequence, they are tracking a lead and going into a home with a “warrant” which both of them know to not be legit. In fact, you find out later that it’s just a Chinese takeout menu that gets handed over. The lack of context and guidance as to why they’re in the situation begins to get ugly for the rookie as Alonzo roots through rooms in search of drugs and cold hard cash.

Meeting the Team

Optimally, the rookie would have met some of their teammates during the interview process, but if not, Day 1 is a great time for the rookie to meet the team. A core meeting or a venue for the rookie to see how the team interacts is great! An armed robbery or a frame job to get the money you need to not be murdered by the Russians is a fine choice but could be a bit too chaotic for the rookie (spoilers much?). Something like lunch, happy hour, or a game day is a great way to see the full team in action outside of the work setting.

Where Alonzo Gets It Right

I already feel odd writing that header, because almost everything about Alonzo is a lesson in how not to be a leader or how not to onboard someone, BUT there is one part of Alonzo’s onboarding style I enjoy. It is the complete immersion he delivers to Jake on day one. Alonzo doesn’t beat around they bush, they get right into the action. It’s almost like Alonzo sniffs out the worst scenarios he can for Jake, culminating in leaving Jake with Smiley and his crew while he “goes to the bathroom.” Spoiler alert, Alonzo wasn’t going to the bathroom.

Things…uh…don’t go well.



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John Hartley

John Hartley

Engineering leader with a passion for building and growing teams. Writing mostly about leadership and management in the tech industry. Mentor @ Plato.