We’ve just hired two new employees for our department and my boss has asked me to do an orientation for them. He hasn’t given much direction but says it should take no more than two days. How should I get started? What should be my objectives?
Your boss’s request is a compliment to you. He is demonstrating that he trusts you to explain the responsibilities expected of these hires, as well as the overall culture of the company.
It is essential you plan well for the orientation. New employees should feel comfortable but they also need to know they are joining a professional organization with high standards.
You are, in a sense, the welcoming committee. After all, they will be spending two days with you and in many ways you will be the organization to them. The values you portray, your work ethic, and your sense of loyalty will be seen as the standard.
It would be a good idea for you to prepare a checklist of what you would like to accomplish. Be guided by their position descriptions (available from HR) which should be up-to-date and apply specifically to their duties.
I’d recommend you organize the program into one hour segments. Don’t try to jam too much into a short period of time as they may become overwhelmed and probably will forget much of the content.
Although breaks might seem inefficient, they should be taken frequently to allow employees to re-charge but also ask questions in a less formal environment.
Once you have developed an agenda for the two days, coordinate the program with relevant department heads and other employees. You don’t want to surprise someone by simply dropping in with the new hires in tow.
It is advisable to have a reasonably formal schedule which can act as a checklist as you fulfill the objectives of the orientation. Your tone, however, should be warm and welcoming: some humor and fun are perfectly okay!
Remember, too, that the orientation is also for the benefit of the employer. You should be noting any concerns or issues that could be addressed in subsequent sessions. If an employee is obviously lacking in a required skill, this should be brought to the attention of management or HR.
Think of how you would like the orientation to end as this will be the final message delivered to these hires. A wrap up over a light meal on site, perhaps with the CEO or some other senior executive in attendance, would provide a nice close to the program.
An orientation is an important process for new employees. It will reduce anxiety and equip them to be productive and knowledgeable as soon as possible. Take the orientation seriously, but try to keep the tone light and enjoyable if at all possible.
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