New Employee Orientation: Sleep, Weep or Reap?

By Marla Rosner, Principal, InstillLeadership

New employee orientations seem a bit “ho-hum”? If so, you’re not alone in your thinking. Reviewing personnel policies and procedures is a bore for both employer and employee. So let’s reconsider what the goals of effective orientation should be so that they have greater meaning to both parties.

It’s essential to accomplish two things with a new employee and fast:

  1. Develop their competence in the assigned tasks, and
  2. Facilitate their assimilation into the team.

If either or both of these objectives are not met, the new employee will fall short in his or her competence, motivation, or both. I don’t know about you, but if I felt like a social reject or that I couldn’t do my job well, I wouldn’t want to show up at work anymore. Low confidence leads to low commitment. Even though it may be unlikely that a new hire would leave in this tough economic market, it’s important to have all players on the team fully engaged, not just going through the motions. Allowing a new hire to wallow in functional and social limbo does not lead to a productive contribution by that employee.

Though reviewing policies and procedures is essential, take the next steps to get newbies fully connected and productive in your organization. Check out the tips below.

New Employee Launch Tips

  1. Use checklists that include introductions to co-workers, orientation to corporate culture, assignment of a buddy/mentor, and specific training activities to quickly build competencies.
  2. Provide the same checklist to the new employee and encourage him or her to be proactive about getting all boxes checked in the appropriate time frame. This sets an early expectation that employees take initiative and not simply be passive order-takers.
  3. Don’t stop with checklists. An essential part of making new employees feel part of the team is laying the groundwork with the existing team in advance. The more the team has been involved in the selection of the new person, the more likely they’ll be receptive to him or her. Remind the team of their own first days on the job and encourage them to make friendly overtures to the new employee, show them the ropes, and fill them in on “how things work around here.”
  4. Finally, as a manager, touch bases early and often with someone new to ask what support and direction they need. Let them know your availability as well as how and when to make contact with you; e.g., knock on your door, send you an email or text, etc. If you know their needs and meet them, they’ll succeed and you’ll be their hero.
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