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6 Tips for the Best Orientation Program

Posted on January 22, 2014
Mary Browse BloodWritten by Mary Browse Blood | Email author

The Best Tips for a Successful Onboarding and Orientation ProgramAfter weeks of combing through resumes and conducting interviews you have finally hired the right candidate for the position. The salary has been agreed to, the offer letter signed, and the start date is on the horizon. It is time to check the box on the to-do list; the office is fully staffed, right?  Think again! The hard work is just beginning.

Recently, a company I consult with was gearing up for a new hire scheduled to start in roughly one week’s time. We had all talked about the importance of the new hire hitting the ground running and felt confident in her willingness and ability to adjust quickly to the fast-paced environment. The hiring manager knew she wanted to ensure a smooth transition but also knew that she did not have time to hold the new hire’s hand and walk her through the day-to-day work. We needed to plan an orientation schedule; but, where do we begin? I encouraged her to consider the following recommendations for ensuring a successful introduction to the company:

6 Tips for the Best Onboarding Program:

  1. The Timeline: While the traditional Introductory Period may last between 90 days and six (6) months; a typical orientation and onboarding schedule may last between two (2) and three (3) weeks. This gives the new hire enough time to get past their nerves; meet colleagues and get their hands dirty across various lines of business or departments.
  2. Shadowing with Team Members: While the new hire may be assigned to a specific department or line of business; consider giving them direct one-on-one experience shadowing with team members across various lines of business. In doing so, the new hire gains a better understanding of exactly what keeps the business going and how each department connects and works with each other.
  3. Assign a Mentor: You do not have to have a formal mentor program in place in order to partner a more tenured team member with the new hire. Encouraging an intentional relationship gives the new hire a sense of stability by having an unbiased channel for the little questions they may be afraid to ask otherwise. The more tenured employee benefits as well by developing a relationship based on honest and candid feedback. In fact, the mentor relationship just may remind the tenured employee of exactly why they like their job in the first place.
  4. Schedule some Down Time: Yes, that’s right, a new hire needs down time as well. Imagine being introduced to several dozen people, different lines of business and projects all at the same time. Do you remember feeling as though you remembered everyone’s name and every last detail about what you learned? New hires need time to reflect and review the information that they have been given in order to think of the questions they still need answered in order to be successful. Don’t be afraid to give them time to generate their own work.
  5. Weekly One-on-Ones: While most managers make a point to schedule one-on-one meetings with the new hire moving forward it can also be easy to forget. It is just as important to check in on the status of project work as it is to get a sense for how they are adjusting to the new position. Remember to ask whether or not their questions have been answered; whether or not they have met all of the team members; and whether or not they understand what is scheduled for the rest of the week.  While it may feel as though you don’t have time to slow down and ask the questions, it is important to take the time to show the new hire that they are worth the time investment and that you are committed to their happiness and success in the new position.
  6. Schedule some Fun: Don’t forget to add a little fun to the orientation week. Consider scheduling team lunches, happy hours (if appropriate) and other opportunities where the new hire can learn more about their team members and develop personal relationships as well. Show the new hire that you are excited to add them to your team!

Regardless of the level of position being hired into the position, one thing is for certain: the new hire may know something about your industry, but likely knows very little about your company culture or approach to business. It is critical to the success of the new hire that companies plan and execute a new hire orientation and onboarding session that promotes visibility to co-workers, client interaction, and culture specific events that will allow them to see a long-term future with the company.

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