how to capture best practices in new hire orientation

How to Capture Best Practices in New Hire Orientation

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

Because We Have Always Done It This Way

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.

Your Turn

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?

See Also

Make Your New Hire’s Day: 7 Ways to Improve New Hire Orientation

Uncovering the Best Kept Secrets: Get Your Team to Share Best Practices

7 Ways to Ensure Your New Hire Has a Great First Day

Jack and Jill are both new hires who started their new jobs today. Both of them are nervous. Both of them had other offers. Both are looking for validation that they made the right choice. They both still have lots of logistics questions that they were too embarrassed to ask during the interview process. Both want to make good first impressions.

Jack’s boss enthusiastically greets him at the door. His computer is already set up, and the phone is working. Jack receives a schedule of what’s going to happen that day. He is assigned a peer mentor, who immediately take him on a tour. The next stop is HR where he can ask all of his benefits-related questions. Later in the day, he meets with his boss to align on a few goals for the week.

Jill’s boss keeps her waiting in the lobby. The first words she hears are an apology, “things are just crazy around here.” She is then introduced to the IT guy who “can help get you get set up.” While she waits for the IT guy to come back, she begins introducing herself to those around her. She’s wants to jump in and make a good impression, but is not quite sure where to start. She’s not even sure how to find the restroom.

The First Day Matters

Perhaps you’ve been Jack or Jill. Or, perhaps you’ve been one of those bosses. We never want our new hires to feel like Jill. And yet sometimes they do.

How the new hire experiences the first day can leave a strong impression. They may wonder,”Am I a priority?”

7 New Hire “Must Haves”

It may seem basic, but over the years I’ve found it useful to create checklists to ensure everyone receives a good new hire experience. Of course, what goes on the list will vary, but here’s a good place to start.

  1. A Functional Workspace
    It’s important to ensure everything is set up BEFORE your new hire gets there. Connected equipment, phones, temporary passwords, user guides, pens, paper consider anything that your new hire may need to get started well. Having tools that work will go a long way in reducing stress.
  2. A Tour
    It’s important for your new hire to be able to navigate. How do they find their way around? Where do the key players sit? Where are the restrooms and the coffee?
  3. Overview of the Bigger Picture
    It’s important that your new employee feels connected early to the greater vision and goals. Perhaps it’s a welcome letter, or meeting with a senior leader. This can be done in a variety of ways, and the first day is only the beginning.
  4. A Benefits Meeting
    Your new hire will likely have open questions about paychecks, benefits, vacation, code of conduct, and other norms. Many companies have formal programs to go through all of this. Some do not. Either way ensures there is an opportunity for your new hire to ask questions in a safe environment.
  5. A Peer Mentor
    Pick someone “nice” who is “into it.” I have seen this backfire. With that said, this is a great developmental assignment
  6. Someone to Have Lunch With
    It could be the peer mentor, you, or someone else. Even if lunches aren’t part of your culture, today is special. Make sure it feels that way.
  7. A Few Early Goals
    This works at every level of the business. Be clear about expectations for the first week. What do you want your new hire to accomplish?
  8. What would you add???