MIX METHODS AND MEDIA
Your first step, as the process designer, should be to sit back and envision the entire orientation arc as desired by both the new employee and yourself. If you were the brand-new hire wondering if you made the right move and wanting to quickly become both productive and one of the gang, what kind of training and support would you like to receive? You are designing a process that is tied tightly into a schedule. When finished you should end up with a multipage schedule that everyone can understand. In a comprehensive plan there should be sections of the working schedule that are lecture-oriented, some that will use one-on-one teaching and coaching techniques, some to reflect simple training exercises with areas of self-study and actual testing later on. Building in review segments also helps. If possible, vary the methods and the media being used to punch up and maintain strong interest levels for the new hire. Alternate their time between paper documents, DVDs, CDs, online interactive classes, face-to-face sessions with colleagues, tours of your facility as well as visiting certain key customers and suppliers. Remember, when done right, orientation is exhausting — schedule in plenty of breaks to refresh your new student employee!
ORIENTATION AND INTEGRATION, BUILDING THE BEST PROCESS
You first need to decide if your goal is to just orient your new employee or fully integrate them into your business and mission. To orient involves determining your location in relation to an already known system of points. To integrate means to combine with or meld into one unified system. Isn’t that exactly what we are trying to do?
Many companies consider orientation an event rather than an ongoing process. Orientation is often considered “complete” after a set timetable of events. Best practice models, however, break the process into multiple phases. Each phase keeps the focus squarely on the integration of the employee by communicating goals and expectations and never retreating from consistently building engagement into the work.
Increase the feeling of genuine welcome and strengthen that early bond by having certain team elements ready and waiting for the new hire so that demonstration of this new relationship is real and obvious.
Use the lag time between the acceptance of your offer and their start date to take care of the majority of administrative issues and busywork (filling out and signing tax forms, insurance registrations, HR documents, etc.) so that the first day can immediately focus on communicating the organization’s vision and mission and becoming instantly productive and helpful on the job.
Create a positive routine by developing a universal Day One Orientation Plan which can be used with any new hire regardless of their position. Select just one or two people to design, oversee and run the day so that all new hires receive a similar welcome and knowledge starting point. The following topics could be used to assist in creating your own orientation plan: company history, territory, mission and values, product line review, service offering, tour and introductions, elements of the current strategic business plan, recent sales history, competition, policies and expectations, telephone and computer usage, top customer introduction and review, banking and accounting relationships, manufacturer agreements and much more. The plan can be expanded as needed and called the Week One Orientation Plan.
Assign each new hire a Workplace Buddy. If possible, choose someone with similar responsibilities that will create welcome efficiencies; however, the only absolute is the need that they both work in similar environments (inside worker to inside worker, field worker to field worker, etc.). As the on-call supportive contact (i.e., personal answer man/woman), the new hire can quickly and casually reach out to get the majority of their questions answered and smaller needs met. This person will be essential to the new hire and act as an important buffer for management.
There are also ANTI-best-practices which should be avoided, especially on day one, including: overwhelming the new hire with facts, figures, names and faces; showing one out-of-date orientation video after another; exposing the new hire to a revolving lineup of presenters to provide wandering impromptu lectures irrelevant topics; leaving the employee alone during lunch to reflect upon their choice of employers; and, generally failing to prepare for the new hire in any tangible way (i.e., no computer, e-mail, desk, phone or productive work).
Try to recall your first day on the job or at school. It’s nearly impossible not to feel like an outsider. An average new employee often questions their decision to change companies at the end of the first day. Their anxieties are fueled in part by the mistakes that companies make during the earliest phases of orientation. You only get one chance to impress — one that can cement the deal for a newly recruited employee.