Making New Hire Orientation Mean Something

Congratulations!  You beat out 128 other applicants for this position and today is your first day on the new job.   Right away you realize it’s not going to be a snoozer of a new hire orientation.  Your manager and someone from HR greet you with a document as soon as you walk through the door.  You’ve been on the job 38 seconds and you realize you’ve already been given a professional development plan (PDP).

What would happen if all new hires began day #1 of their employment with a PDP, a development plan containing specific goals for which they’d be held accountable over their first month of work?  It sure would be memorable for the employee.  And it should serve to help a manager better target specifically what should be covered (and what should be eliminated) during new hire orientation.

I’ve sat through many new hire orientations, and I can’t really remember much about any of them – other than the fact I’ve spent the day filling out forms and sitting through a number of (forgettable) presentations.  I’ve also presented at a number of new hire orientations, sharing a brief overview of my department to new colleagues who have been drinking from an information-laden fire hose all day.  Is this the best use of a new hire’s time?  Is this the best use of the various presenters’ time?

Recently I’ve had a number of conversations with colleagues and several clients who were all looking to speed the time to competence for new hires.  Losing a day (or in some cases a week) to presentations for new employees is not a way to speed time to competence.  From a new employee’s standpoint, he often doesn’t know which parts of these presentations are important or will impact his job.  And too often the presenters use the same canned presentation for a new employee regardless of the employee’s responsibilities.

Training – including new hire orientation – just won’t stick unless a manager holds an employee accountable for using (or remembering) what he’s learned. Giving a new employee a PDP from day 1 could be just the tool that a manager and a new employee need to have a meaningful new hire experience and speed time to competency.

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