On that first day of a new job… Employee Training

Posted on 31 January 2012

Think back, for a moment, to your first “sweaty-palm” day in a new job.  Pretty daunting wasn’t it?

  • You met quite a number of people including your boss/ supervisor/manager and co-workers, forcing yourself to try to remember everyone’s names.
  • You filled out a bunch of forms in a blur.
  • You got a tour of your new physical space, trying to remember the layout, especially where the bathroom was.
  • You received an employee manual to learn the policies, benefits, reporting structure, etc.

And then you started to learn your new job, your responsibilities, what you were expected to accomplish, and some new skills or how to apply those skills you already had in this new environment – and I’ll bet the task list(s) or instructions had not been revised in years.

I’ll bet you came in on that first day determined to prove those who made the hiring decision that they made a good choice and that you would become a long-term asset to the company.  And, I’ll also bet that, your mind awhirl, you started forgetting names, where the bathroom was, when you were scheduled for lunch and how to do your first task… unless the orientation process was outstanding.

It seems that there is a typical three-step orientation process in most businesses: too much activity and information, given too fast, and too complex.  It immediately starts demotivating the new hire, shames them into feeling incompetent, and sets the stage for long, slow, difficult integration rather then an orderly transition from “newbie” into valued team member.

We waste so much time and effort in orientation because few companies make it a progressive, well-thought-through, simplified process.  Rather than overwhelm the new hire with more information than they can process easily, it would be better to plan through a step-by-step approach so they are able to learn and absorb information easily.  A good starting place is to review policy manuals, operations manuals, and task instructions with a goal of removing complexity and ambiguity, replacing them with simplicity.  It might even replace those “sweaty palms”, too.

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