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

how to build a best in class new hire orientation

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

Your new hire is driving home from her very first day. What’s she feeling? What’s she going to tell her kids about mommy’s new job? When she wakes up at 3 am anticipating Day 2, what’s on her mind?

The statistics are astounding. There’s no question that the first day, and the 89 days that follow, have a huge impact on retention, engagement, and productivity. You can’t undo that first impression. Here are seven ways to make your new-hire orientation more memorable and meaningful.

7 Easy and Innovative Ways to Make Your New Hire’s Day

I’m going to assume you’ve got the basics down–who needs to sign what, security and confidentiality, and the shortest way the bathroom. Consider weaving a few of these ideas into your new hire’s first day.

1- Make it a Celebration

It doesn’t take much to create a little ruckus. A few balloons, a cupcake or a little bling can go a long way. Even a big poster board on their cube with a “We’re so glad you’re here” signed by the team sets a tone of celebration. If all that feels too crazy for your culture, how about a sincere card with a few sentences about why you chose them?  The important part is to make it sincere and personal. The first day in a new job is a big deal to them. Show them that they are important to you, too.

2- Connect Through Stories

Tell some stories about what it’s really like to work here. Be strategic in your messaging to reinforce key values–you want to inspire, but even more importantly you want to connect.  Sharing “How I learned this the hard way” stories or “Whatever you do don’t make this crazy mistake” funny stories are a great way to make a human connection.

3-Create a Family Welcome Kit

Take them to lunch and find out a bit more about them and the other important people in their lives. Then before they leave at the end of the day, pull together a gift bag with some branded bling for their significant others, and a nice card from you: Logo lollipops for the kids, a branded coffee mug for their spouse, or even a branded Frisbee to play catch with their friends. Of course, this requires a bit of pre-planning to build your stash, but once you have it, it’s easy to pull together some personalized fun that shows you’re paying attention and care about the people in their lives beyond work.

4- Let Them Do Something Productive

So many companies spend the first day giving new hires a fire hose of information–it can be a lot to retain. Try mixing up the orientation with a bit of real work that lets them add value immediately and get a taste of the role. It will build confidence and help punctuate the learning with some doing.

5- Visualize the MIT (Most Important Thing)

Find fun ways to visualize and reinforce your MIT priorities. If their job is to expand in global markets, give them a dollar store globe squishy ball.  If recruiting and retaining talent is #1, give them a magnet. Visuals are a fun conversation starter about what’s most important and why.

6-Make it Really Easy to Ask Questions

When I would go talk to the new hire classes at Verizon, I learned if I just asked for questions, I got all the politically correct ones. But if I passed out index cards and encouraged people to ask me anything on their minds, that’s when the real conversation started. If you’re just hiring one person at a time, assign them one of the most approachable peers as a buddy and encourage them to ask anything they want. They may be embarrassed to ask you or HR. Do everything you can to shorten their learning curve and reduce anxiety.

7. Help Them Build a Plan

Make it easy for your new hire to make connections and learn the business. Identify a few key people (not just in your department) that can help accelerate their learning curve and make some introductions and set some follow-up appointments for the first few weeks.

You may also want to introduce them to the Let’s Grow Leader’s EOY Planning Letter (FREE TOOL) — and instructions. They won’t know enough the first day to complete it, but it’s a great assignment to tee-up on day one and getting them to visual an amazing year. Have them write this letter to you as if

Of course, a copy of Winning Well also makes a nice welcome gift for a new manager 😉

Your turn. Would love to hear your creative ideas for ensuring your new hire has an amazing first day.