Let Orientation Ease Transitions

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Schedule the employee’s first week in detail. A first-week work schedule establishes expectations while allowing the new hire to assimilate into the company.

April 01, 2004

 

Bob Piper, Principal, The Talon Group

A smooth, successful transition from one employee to the next requires a thorough, thoughtful orientation for the new hire. Affirm the new employee’s decision to join your firm and sustain his or her excitement for what’s ahead.

Think back to your first day at your current employer: new faces, new desk and telephone, new coffee maker. Little things became adventures — where to find office supplies, how to work the voice-mail system, where to find the restrooms. A well-planned orientation anticipates and addresses these things.

Let’s start with the first day. A new hire’s immediate supervisor should escort the employee to his/her workstation and explain the lay of the land. If you have a large office, provide a floor plan with everyone’s name, title and phone extension. This step alone will save the new employee many headaches.

It’s not a bad idea to schedule the employee’s first week in detail. In fact, it can be a great relief not having to navigate alone through the first week. New employees tend to be eager to prove their value and to over-commit during the first week. Sound familiar? A first-week work schedule establishes expectations while allowing the new hire to assimilate into the company.

Someone should demonstrate how to use the phone system, voice-mail, the computer system, etc. If any human resources paperwork needs to be completed, have an H.R. representative come to the new hire’s workstation to help complete it. The more time new hires spend at their work center, the more quickly they become acclimated and productive.

Speaking of H.R. paperwork, put everything in one place for new employees. Rather than handing out a bunch of forms and documents, have a file folder ready with all of the necessary information before the employee arrives.

This should include an up-to-date job description, an organizational chart, a benefits manual, the benefits start date and a copy of the signed offer letter. Any 401(k) or profit-sharing information should be included, too.

Help new hires hit the ground running. Find out ahead of time whom they would like to meet during their first week and have the meetings already scheduled. What information would they like to have and when? Don’t make them search for it the first week.

Reserve lunch dates during the first week for meeting the new teammates. Everyone will be curious about the new employee anyway, so rather than rely on bonding in the hallway during breaks, schedule meaningful visits over lunch:

 

 

  • Monday: lunch with immediate supervisor. This is a great time to review the job description, outline limits of authority and discuss short- and long-term goals.
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  • Tuesday: lunch with peer group.
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  • Wednesday/Thursday: lunch with entire staff.
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  • Friday: another lunch with supervisor. By this time, the new employee will have formulated thoughts about the organization and might have questions/comments to share. This lunch gives the supervisor an opportunity to gauge how well the new employee is assimilating and stem any confusion before it festers into something worse. Anticipate surprises and be prepared to deal with them.
  • All lunches during this first week should be expensed to the company as part of the new hire orientation.

    Consider it a one-time investment that can pay big dividends — or ensure against substantial losses.

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