Setting up people for success

Joe Sherren
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Effective onboarding

A new employee will make many judgments about your company in their first few months which will last their complete career. Therefore, the initial orientation is crucial for both the employee and the company.

The training should explore the ‘why’ of an organization (its basic purpose). By sharing the organization’s history, its founders and values, new hires will feel more part of the team and, thus, more fulfilled.

According to IDC (International Data Corporation), employees who do not fully understand their jobs cost U.S. businesses an estimated $37 billion every year. Their recently released white paper quantifies the losses that occur as a result of “actions taken by employees who have misunderstood — or were misinformed about — company policies, business processes, job function or a combination of the three.”

Effective onboarding helps workers understand their roles, the company they work for and its culture which can significantly cut these losses.

There are two significant reasons why organizations should consider an extensive onboarding process. First, there is now evidence that certain long-term attitudes and behaviours can be determined by putting new employees into high pressured training and simulation exercises.

Secondly, there is recent research that university students who complain until they get better grades, and view their professors as hired help are on the fast track to becoming dissatisfied and disgruntled employees. The research done with over 1,000 students links academic entitlement with inflated expectations in the workplace. The students who displayed a sense of entitlement in college will carry the attitude into the working world.

The only way to start an employee on the right path, and in a position to become next generation leadership, is extensive, comprehensive onboarding

Effective employee onboarding has a positive and long-term domino effect; it ensures that new hires feel welcome and prepared in their new positions. This, in turn, will give them the knowledge, confidence and ability to make a positive impact within the organization.

Years ago when I started with IBM, all marketing and service personnel were required to attend three to six months of orientation and skill building training. At Disney Corporation, orientation training is not optional; it is embedded into the fabric of the organization. They believe there are three things to consider when creating a basic orientation program: (1) what cultural values do you want established during this orientation experience? (2) What flexibility will there be for personal adaptation by employees? (3) When the training includes competitive situations or being subjected to pressure, it will reveal how respectful the new employee will treat their peers.

The training focuses on the past, present and future of Disney. Awareness of customs help new hires recognize and appreciate their responsibility for continuing the Disney tradition, their impact on the quality of the customer experience, and the role they can play in the company’s growth and success. In order for employees to become great leaders, they must know their role, connect that role to the vision, and behave in alignment to the company’s culture. The only way this can happen is through effective orientation training.

My question for managers this week: How does your organization ensure that there is effective onboarding? Please let us know what your organization is doing to ensure long-term productive, happy employees.

If you have questions regarding management practices or challenges you may be dealing with, please write to the Guardian to have your comments or questions addressed.

Joseph Sherren, CSP, CSPGlobal, HoF, Canada’s Management Effectiveness Expert works with corporations and organizations to improve the quality of their hiring.

Organizations: International Data Corporation, IBM, Disney Corporation

Geographic location: U.S., Canada

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