Leaders – Don’t Give In

New Hire Orientation

New employee orientation (NEO), or onboarding, is one of the most critical aspects of a new hire’s beginning.  But to so many leaders, from HR to department directors and managers, it’s becoming just a check on a quick list of to-do’s.

“Just get through the paperwork, tell them their schedule and who to report to.”  I’ve been seeing this more and more lately, and I just don’t understand it.

Creating Successful Organizations

In successful organizations, leaders focus on creating a culture that provides a feeling of ownership, belonging, and purpose.

And how best to expose new hires to this culture, that so many have worked so hard to develop, than new employee orientation?

The idea of NEO is not to just throw people some benefit information and tell them who to report to, but to immerse new people in the culture.

This includes:

  • How the organization began
  • What it went through to get to where it is today
  • The people who have made a difference
  • How these new go-getters can understand how they can make a difference

If asked about the organization, everyone should have a similar description of it.

Creating a Magic Kingdom

Probably my favorite quote of all time came from Michael Eisner, former President and CEO of The Walt Disney Company.

He said, “We don’t put people in Disney, we put Disney in people.”

Every new cast member goes through a 3½ day Traditions course (NEO), where the Disney culture is communicated through powerful storytelling.

In The Disney Way, authors Bill Capodagli and Lynn Jackson describe how Traditions was once reduced by one day . . . one day.

 “Complaints from supervisors throughout the parks began to pour in.  ‘The quality of guest service is not the quality we had last season.’”

That extra day was soon added back in and the complaints diminished.

Given Time to Succeed

NEO is the first opportunity for new people to learn about your company.  If they’re rushed through the benefits speech and the safety presentation and not given any information about how great the company is, that’s exactly the kind of employee you’re going to get.

  • You will get employees that rush their job and who don’t  feel any ownership for what they do.
  • You’ll have employees that are there just for a “job,” not a successful “career.”
  • Your company will never see the potential success it could if it properly set the tone in the beginning.

I’ve heard some managers say, “Well, they’ll learn the culture from working in it”.  They sure will.  But the culture they’ll learn is the “underground” culture – not the one that you should be immersing them in from the start.  There’s usually a culture all its own that says, “this is the way that it’s supposed to be, but this is the way that I do it”.

Right From the Start

You must teach the new people, from the start, the importance of your mission and vision and how they should act in order to fit into it and make it successful – whether its following local SOP’s, federal regulations, or putting themselves in the customers shoes to give extraordinary service.

Don’t let them learn things the hard way. Or the wrong way.

Okay, think of it this way.  Ask yourself this:

Why would I just throw a new employee into the fire to figure things out for himself? But if I bought a new piece of machinery, I’d follow the manufacturer’s instructions to set it up and get it working properly?

Getting a new employee going properly and getting a new piece of machinery going properly is the same thing.  You have to “install” a new employee in the culture, just like you would install a new piece of machinery in order to get it to run properly.

Leading By Example

Take a look at the Zappos culture.  This legendary company is one of the most successful customer-service-based companies ever. Everyone, regardless of department, hired into their headquarters goes through the same four week training that their call center staff goes through.

This includes:

  • Company history
  • The importance of customer service
  • Their long-term vision
  • Philosophy about the company culture

Everyone is on the same page because everyone gets the same information and they get it up front.  They know exactly what the company is about and how they fit into it.

Not convinced yet?  Lets turn the tables.  Yes it’s true that employee orientation centers around helping the new employee, but it just could be the company that ultimately gains the benefits.

Think about these company benefits:

  • Reduces costs associated with learning on the job
  • Saves coworkers and supervisors time training the new employee, thereby increasing production
  • Increases morale and reduces turnover by showing the employee he/she is valued

Hmmm, I never thought of it that way.

However you look at it, a strong new employee orientation program is a requirement for success – both for the employee and your company.  It’s been proven time and time again that happy knowledgeable  employees are productive employees . . . and productive employees create successful organizations.

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——————–
Andy Uskavitch
Andy Uskavitch is Leadership Development at Florida Blood Services
He develops and facilitates Leadership, Motivation & Teambuilding Seminars
Email | LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter | Blog |  (727) 568-5433

Image Sources:  Bestpitch.files.wordpress.com

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