COACHING LIFE: In the deep end
By Cheryl Gittens | Wed, May 16, 2012 - 12:00 AM
Orientation IS A FORM of socialization and training that ought to take place at the beginning of a new hire’s career with a company. Many companies conduct orientation, though the scope varies.
This results in many employees’ complaining privately that they often feel like they have been thrown in at the deep end of the pool when launching their careers.
New hires want to be regarded as confident and competent in the eyes of their supervisors as quickly as possible and oftentimes what passes for orientation not only betrays its intent but can cost the company time and resources and perhaps even the loss of an expensive new employee.
Some of the benefits that redound to organizations when they conduct well coordinated orientation programmes include low turnover, boosted employee morale, increased productivity, lower recruiting and training costs, and reduced new-hire anxiety. Thus, orientation impacts the bottom line.
Though many companies do a decent job when introducing employees to the organization’s culture (behaviours, norms and values), many orientation programmes are general in scope and leave employees overloaded with nice-to-know information (though relevant to their employment) that could have been shared months down the line.
Others are limited to giving the employee a copy of the employee handbook to digest.
In both instances the expectation is to learn the ropes quickly.
Shape employees Orientation, from the organization’s perspective, helps the employee to get settled and adjusted and more importantly, helps shape the employee to conform to the “way things are done around here”.
Employees tend to expect a little more from orientation, though, so organizations need to be able to respond to these needs.
Employees want to be trained and mentored while growing in competence and competence as alluded to earlier. Getting over job-specific learning curves while navigating the cultural do’s and don’ts could be overwhelming for some and so while many busy managers understand the anxiety of the employees, they don’t have time to pander to it.
Some time-sensitive solutions for supervisors:
• Generate a resource library (could be a small as five information pieces)
• Spend one weekend recording audio or video trainings on the tasks involved in the various roles in the department.
• Include 15 minute laser training in weekly meetings on a single job element
• Educate your employees about your role so they are not operating in a vacuum
• Assign a mentor to your new hire.
• Encourage new people to ask as questions and keep an open door policy.
What can employees do if they find themselves in this position?
• Find yourself a mentor in the department or the company. It does not have to be formal. Formalizing the arrangement might appear too time-consuming causing mentors to renege on their commitment to you. Simply ask if they would mind showing the ropes if you get lost along the way.
• Document the tasks involved in your job as you perform them and after a few months have a willing supervisor vet the process for you.
It will certainly help others in the future.
• Get into observation mode.
Study how your colleagues go about their jobs; what gets rewarded; what is not tolerated; what are the standards of comportment.
• Read up on the company and research its industry.
• This may sound crazy, but chances are that your job is on Youtube or a blog somewhere.
To prevent information overload, companies may begin orientation with job specific training, later adding remedial training (writing, problem solving, teamwork) as the employee shows deficiencies in these areas.
The employee handbook is always useful reference to have but employees could gradually be introduced to key personnel and industry jargon over time.
These simple tips could help the frustrated supervisor and the under confident employee feel less stressed by the orientation process. Lengthening the process from one day to three months may allow for a well planned training programme to be rolled out.
Remember this does not have to be expensive if you use the meeting format as one of your methods.
Remember hiring is an investment by the company and in the employee. Paying attention to orientation pays off.
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