Building an Effective Orientation Program

It pays to help new staff members start their work right, and management should invest wisely in well-designed staff-orientation programs. Effective orientation develops your new employees to become committed to the company as well as perform greatly in the organization. This reduces staff turnovers, which is very costly.

Properly-trained staff members who are also welcomed at the beginning of their careers feel good about their choice of employer. They also fit in quickly with peers and colleagues and readily contribute new ideas. These staffers also speak well about your firm to friends and family. And they represent you more confidently to customers, business partners, and suppliers.

If you are determined to develop staff members who would perform great in your company as well as develop their own career gains, here are some great ideas.

Go for the long term – Effective orientation is a gradual process, and does not end after the second day of the job. The initial induction of employees during the first few days is very important, but it is even more important to make sure new employees fit in and feel comfortable over the longer term.

Give more time for new members to absorb information – New employees arrive with basic questions such as inquiring about the dress code, tools needed for his job, when to eat, etc. After a few months, your employee’s question will change and mature, asking about performance appraisals, making suggestions, prospects for training, etc. As a manager, you don’t have to answer all possible questions in the least possible time. Stretch out the process to cover the first weeks or even months on the job.

Have everyone involved – New employees are not the only ones affected by the quality of your orientation process. You should also consider other groups during this important period as well, such as your peers, bosses, subordinates, senior managers, customers, suppliers, and even the new hire’s family. Each group has different questions and concerns about the new employee. Address those concerns by providing each group an active role in your orientation program. Activities include buddy systems, lunch meetings, panel discussions, site visits, and family days.

Create comfort and rapport – New staff members would want to feel a sense of acceptance and belonging in the company. You can accelerate this process through an abundance of opportunities that you present to new staff in order to interact with their peers, bosses, subordinates, colleagues from other departments, customers, suppliers, and senior managers.

Diversify the time and nature of meetings – Informal conversations, tea-time, meal-times, and after hour get-togethers are a good choice. Include new staffers in customer visits, focus group discussions, and occasional management meetings. You could also send new employees to visit company divisions and departments. They could spend a week, a day, or an afternoon in a different part of the business to build rapport and understanding throughout your organization.

Introduce the company culture – New member usually want to fit in with accepted norms and values. Having them understand your company’s culture-such as punctuality, keenness to work, dress code, etc-takes time. It can be introduced through formal presentations, informal dialogue, and lots of personal experience.

Provide mentors – Extend your positive influence beyond the formal presentation. You can provide mentors to your new employees through a buddy system wherein you match your most sincere and enthusiastic staff with your incoming employees. However, don’t let the mentor role become a burden. Give the mentor relationship some real support such as paying for a few lunches, allowing time for weekly mentor-trainee conversations, include mentor sevices in annual staff appraisal, and show appreciation to the mentors with tokens of recognition.

Show the company’s big picture – New employees wonder about the company even though they may have researched about it for their job interview. They may want to know where the company has been, where is it today, where is it heading, what is our marketing position, strengths and weaknesses, etc. You can orient new staffers to these issues with a well-designed presentation. Share the humble beginnings of your company, detail its great achievements, show excitement for future directions. You could also be candid about the company’s weaknesses, too. Keep your presentation upbeat, lively, and up-to-date.

Explain job responsibilities and rewards – Clarify their expectations from the very beginning. Ensure that they are thoroughly versed on their job responsibilities and accompanying levels of authority. Demonstrate and explain your staff appraisal system. Use career paths of those who have come before them to illustrate possibilities and potentials in the job.

Handle administrative matters effectively – Putting a new employee in the company also involves a lot of paperwork. While these are important to complete, resist all temptation to complete it in one sitting. Spread those administrative tasks over many short sessions in the first few weeks. Filling out forms for hours on the first day of work is not the way to inspire enthusiasm about the dynamic nature of your organization.

Provide reality checks – Make sure your orientation is not an ill-guided fantasy of what you wish the company could be. If your program only shows the bright side of the business and the happy side of daily work, don’t be surprised when new hires would be shocked after two or three weeks on the job. Take time to be candid and open about the pressures and realities of your company, your team, your customers, and your competition.

Get your new employees involved in welcoming incoming staffers – This ensures that your orientation program stays fresh and relevant to staff needs.

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