When it comes to new hire orientation, most companies focus on clarity. “This is how we roll, welcome to the team,” with an emphasis on values, vision, and “how we do things around here” policies. And if they’re really on it, maybe they’ll even throw in a little compliance training, a turkey avocado wrap, and a company tee-shirt. Which is all good, but not sufficient.
If you’ve read our Courageous Cultures whitepaper, you know the importance of the clarity-curiosity dance when it comes to encouraging micro-innovation and best practice sharing. So what better time to tap into best practices then while they’re still fresh? What if you used your new hire orientation not just to be clear about where you’re headed, but also curious about where they’ve been and what they’ve learned?
You Lost Me at Hello
Karin recently had lunch with “Will,” one of her favorite direct reports from her time at Verizon, to talk about how his new job was going at a different company.
Will was visibly frustrated as he described the situation, “Well, basically my week of new hire orientation ended with my boss saying, ‘I didn’t hire you for your ideas. I hired you to implement mine.’ ”
Seeing the look of surprise on Karin’s face, Will continued, “But I’ve been thinking about it. I probably came on a bit too strong. I had so many ideas right out of the gate, I think I overwhelmed him and maybe even hurt his feelings. He thought I was being critical rather than trying to help. From now on, I’m keeping my mouth shut and working on my exit strategy.”
Which is tragic. Because Will’s not just an idea guy, he’s a loyal operations manager who will do anything to make your vision happen—including finding creative ways to accelerate results.
Surely they hired him for his track record of success, and yet somehow, they lost him at hello.
How to Tap Into Best Practices In Your New Hire Orientation
67% of our research participants said management operates according to the notion, “This is the way we’ve always done it.” If you want to buck that trend, dispel that myth from day one.
Start by making it perfectly clear that speaking up is what “people like us” do.
1. Be clear that best practice sharing and speaking up is an integral part of your culture.
“Around here, speaking up is the norm. We expect you to be on the constant lookout for how to make things better for our customers, easier, or more effective. The most successful employees are micro-innovators and problem solvers. This is what that looks like around here________.”
2. Share examples and tell some great stories.
Showcase some specific examples of employees at all levels who came up with great ideas that changed the game. If you want a two-for-one, as you’re building your courageous culture, you can use your new hire orientation as a time to have them share their own stories of micro-innovation and the results that followed.
3. Train your new hires on some fundamental critical thinking and problem-solving skills appropriate for their role.
And then, get curious.
4. Carve out dedicated time to ask about what they liked most about their last company and why. If your new hires have worked in the industry before, even better— dig deep to learn how other companies are approaching your biggest challenges.
5. Assign homework
Your new hires may not have enough context to know which best practices are needed right out of the gate. They might assume you will already be doing what they consider business as usual and be surprised to hear you’re not. Give them homework to identify at least three new ideas or best practices they would recommend during their first month on the job.
You can help structure this homework with a few conversation starters:
- How did they approach (insert your biggest challenge here) at your previous company?
- What does XYZ company do better than we do?
- What tools or processes do you miss from your old company?
- If you could teach everyone here one best practice from your previous job what would that be?
Then make a calendar appointment to follow-up with them to discuss their ideas one month later.
This final step is so important because you are both reinforcing the expectation for innovation and immediately tapping into their outsiders perspective.
We’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment: What would you add? How do you tap into best practices during new hire orientation?