I’ve got employee onboarding best practices on my mind today, and I can’t stop thinking about this phrase:
Fake it ‘til you make it.
In college, I applied for a marketing internship at a bank. I had exactly 0 years of experience in a professional workplace—I was unqualified for this job. Thankfully though, a nice guy named Brent took a risk and hired me. I learned so much in those eight months as an intern.
One of the first things I learned is that “fake it ‘til you make it” is bad advice. Up until that point, I’d say it to my friends when I knew they were winging a presentation or walking into a job interview unprepared. And sometimes, I still catch myself saying it because it feels like a kind thing to say in moments when my friends feel lost or desperate for validation.
But here’s what I’m realizing now, as someone who’s two and a half months into the onboarding process at Lessonly—faking it ‘til you’re making it (whatever it is) costs us something important. Being fake sacrifices trust, honesty, and authenticity. It doesn’t lead to better understanding, clarity, or progress. Vulnerability, on the other hand, leads to answered questions, teamwork, and genuine connection.
So, how can we onboard new customer service reps so well that they never feel pressure to fake anything? The best onboarding experiences for reps start with great onboarding process steps and tips. Here are three fun onboarding ideas to try with your reps:
1. “What questions do you have?”
After a training session or at the end of a lesson, instead of asking “Make sense?” or “Any questions?” try, “What questions do you have for me about ______?”.
This question instantly makes reps feel comfortable with what they don’t know because it’s the expectation that they’re real people with real questions. Rather than having transactional, “Does this make sense? Yeah.” conversations, training can be collaborative and open. Onboarding documents are full of information new reps don’t know yet, so they will, of course, have questions. They’ll need to learn and practice reviewing tickets, resolving problems, taking calls, and chatting with customers. And when trainers and managers encourage questions with “What questions do you have?”, new hires feel supported and heard.
2. Give your reps access to what they need.
Onboarding research shows that best in class onboarding programs quickly enable new hires with access to all of the tools they need to do their jobs well. Giving new hires the training, information, people, and resources they need to excel —right off the bat—helps teams thrive and grow. We’re biased for sure, but the companies with the best onboarding programs that we’ve seen are the ones with a great learning management system. For customer service managers with quickly growing teams, ramp time is critical. Online training software makes onboarding scalable, efficient, and comprehensive.
3. A rep is a feeling person who thinks—not a thinking person who feels.
Last week at Lessonly’s State of the Union, our CEO, Max, reminded us how we’re all much more emotional than we think we are. We’re emotional beings, not robots. We’re not emotional in a “let’s hold hands and cry together” kind of way, but in the sense that we’re always feeling something. We feel before we think.
New hires are no exception. In fact, they’re probably feeling lots of strong emotions—excitement for their new role, pressure to perform, confusion around new processes, and more. So, the third best practice is for managers to be a steady source of truth and support, especially during the first two weeks of a rep’s job. At the end of each day, managers should connect with new reps and ask them to give three words that describe how they feel or grab coffee together to talk about the challenges and victories of the day. It’s up to managers and leaders to observe new hires, listen closely, and use every ounce of emotional intelligence they’ve got to provide new reps with what they need. Well-supported reps will support your customers in a real, human way. No fakeness in sight.
No need to fake anything with onboarding software from Lessonly
Elevate your customer service employee onboarding with better training software. Lessonly’s powerfully simple tool makes it easy to adopt onboarding best practices as a team, so new reps can train, practice, and perform. Get a demo to see how you can Do Better Work today.