Mark Sinatra concludes his piece about employee orientation – follow this advice and you’ll have high hopes for your new hires.
Remember that different people learn in different ways
Many of us were taught this concept in elementary school, and it’s surprisingly still applicable in adulthood. Allow employees to take notes while you’re speaking but don’t force them do so, and don’t be annoyed if the employee keeps repeating your words back to you.
Actually, ask if they’d prefer you to model a behaviour, give verbal instructions, or just give them hands-on practice when you’re trying to teach them new skills. While you should offer them ample opportunity to ask questions, understand that they might not know what to ask just yet.
You don’t have to have completely different training programmes, but employees should be able to mould their training in the manner that best suits them.
Make it a celebration
Doing something festive to greet the new hire can make an enormous impression on them—they’ll feel like they’re a valued member of the team from day one. Your gesture can be as simple as putting cupcakes in the breakroom or posting a ‘Welcome to [Company Name]!’ sign in their work area and having everyone at the office sign it.
Give the newbie ‘critical’ information without being prompted
Nearly everyone receives a mountain of paperwork and an employee handbook to parse when they start a new job. Consider this: if you work in a large building, it may not be immediately obvious to a new team member where to find the restrooms, where the refrigerator and microwave are, if there are any good restaurants nearby, etc.
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Providing a map and/or ‘cheat sheet’ can be surprisingly helpful, and it will help the employee feel more confident about navigating the office.
Consider using the buddy system
Chances are, the HR rep and/or supervisor in charge of orientation won’t be available all day long. Thus, the new hire should be given a mentor or buddy in their department to help them with the minutiae. Choose someone who’s good at their job, has a friendly disposition, and isn’t in the middle of a project that could make or break their career.
Pairing your new hire with the office ‘sourpuss’ or someone who’s completely on edge is a recipe for disaster. Schedule the newbie and their buddy to have similar schedules for the first week, including mealtime breaks; this will allow the employee to have someone to sit and socialise with instead of feeling left out.
At the end of the new employee’s second week, their immediate supervisor should pull them aside to ask what they thought of their orientation and first couple of weeks on the job.
Doing so gives the employee a chance to make comments (or express concerns) about the company’s training and orientation process; they can compliment the good aspects, offer suggestions for improvement, and clarify anything about which they might still be confused.
One valuable question to ask: ‘If you were in charge of orientation, what would you have done differently?’ You’ll be able to obtain excellent feedback, and new hires will have an opportunity to make their voices heard.
When it comes to orientation, it’s absolutely critical to remember that your most trusted and valued employees were once new and inexperienced themselves.
Even the most thorough instruction by the best and brightest in their department won’t turn a newbie into a pro overnight – they’ll need patience and time to settle in. Still, a great orientation program can set the foundation for an awesome future. Who knows? This time next year, your ‘new hire’ may be the one training someone else!
Read part one of this feature here.
About the author
Mark Sinatra is CEO of Staff One HR.