Sunday, August 26, 2007

New Employee Orientation

As a new employee myself, I have had many opportunities to examine how the company I now lead welcomes new teammates. And after seven weeks...I am still waiting. It is safe to say that this is something that I need to fix. And consistent with my charge to put people issues front and center, it is definitely on my "get right on it list!"

I can only imagine how difficult it must be for teammates to join the company that I now lead. Whereas I have received briefings from each division and branch and have had opportunities to examine up close the missions that we perform, the customers and stakeholders that we work with, and the areas in which we have responsibility, I know that this introduction is not available for the rank and file. Instead it likely goes something like this: Here is your desk. Here are your keys. Here is your first project. Now get to work!

This is clearly one of those investments in people that has long term returns. Employees that are warmly welcomed, who understand where they fit in the organization, who see the big picture, and who have the important issues (parking, pay, vacation, benefits, health care, etc.) addressed early are more likely to remember that reception - and stick around.

Among other topics, new employee orientation should include discussions of the following:

- Organizational structure.

- Team values and vision.

- HR issues (pay, vacation, holiday schedule, benefits)

- Leader development opportunities, i.e. how to advance in the company.

- Briefings from key leaders in the organization.

I think it is critical that I personally be a part of these sessions. If I want my new teammates to understand my leadership philosophy, to embrace my vision, and to be as passionate about our future as I am, then who better to hear it from...than me?

So I have cleared my calendar for the next new employee orientation session, coming up in a few weeks. I haven't quite figured out how I will brief myself as the "new employee"...but I'm sure it will be good!

So how about you? What do you do to bring new teammates into the fold? New Employee Orientation is...Leader Business. Hooah!
P.S. If you are like me and need some good ideas to drive your new employee orientation program, check out John Edmond's 15 Steps to How to Welcome Your New Employee.


Gary Bradt said...

Tom, the best leadership job I ever saw of a leader onboarding himself was by Ken May, who at the time was coming in to head up FedEx operations, a big job indeed. (Ken currently heads up Kinko's for FedEx).

I was fortunate enough to have Ken ask me to give a speech for his folks, and as part of my preparation I learned what Ken had done to orient himself to the organization. After he did the ususal visits with sites across the country to introduce himself, gather info, etc. he pulled people together to share what he learned. And the first thing he shared was, "Here is what I heard that you expect of me." He went on to list all the things he had heard that people were looking for from him in that role. Then, and only then, did he share what he expected of others in his organization.

A beautiful job of leadership in my book. By first sharing that he had heard them and what they needed, he insured that they would hear him and what he needed, for all of them to be successful.

And, it underscores that orientation is a two-way street: the organization needs a strong process as you indicate, and new employees, especially those in leadership roles, need to be proactive in getting out and about too. It's all about building relationships.

Thomas Magness said...

Thanks Gary. I am on my first lap around my organization right now. I will take a page from you / Ken and open my "report out" with a discussion about what I heard from them during my travels.

Great comment. Thanks Gary.