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VOL. 125 | NO. 168 | Monday, August 30, 2010

A Proper Orientation: They Started Loving You Today

SUSAN DRAKE | Special to The Daily News

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Landing a new job is usually a cause for celebration, and an employee’s enthusiasm will seldom be greater than on that first day of work. Begin building momentum rather than letting their excitement drain away.

I once sat through an all-day orientation session to evaluate its effectiveness. Before a few hours had passed I wanted to yell, “Fire!” so the poor employees and I could run from our misery. Some were actually sleeping; those who weren’t were probably thinking, “Why did I say I wanted to work here?”

What a wasted opportunity. Let’s redefine the purpose of orientation: It’s not to tell people the minutiae of employment rules and regulations. It’s to remind them that they’ve made a great decision to join your firm. When they think they’ve made a good decision, their anxiety will diminish and their exuberance will soar.

Here’s how to make the most of a new employee’s first day.

Bring in the big brass. When the president shows up to welcome an employee, it speaks volumes about the culture. Forget the formal company history speech. What will generate real enthusiasm is a nice handshake and 15 minutes of casual chat. It will be an unforgettable story to tell friends and family.

Remember it’s all about them, and listen! The employee is thinking about one thing and one thing only: How do I feel about being here? Create a situation in which people can meet others and feel a part of a team. Provide a buddy to spend the day with them and be available in the following days to show them the ropes.

Talk about things that make your company a great place to work – your community involvement projects, awards, recognition programs and things that will make the person feel good about being a part of the team.

Have fun. Let them laugh and enjoy the promise of creating new friendships, settling into a new “home” and anticipating how great it will feel to contribute to your company’s success. Give the new employee company T-shirts or other logo giveaways that show they “belong” to you.

Have their work area ready, with the necessities on hand, such as their computer, password info, ID card, list of co-workers’ names, titles and phone numbers/e-mail addresses, map to other company areas such as the cafeteria or restrooms, and so on. Treat the person as an expected guest, proving that you cared enough to prepare for their arrival.

When you see a new person walking away with a smile, you’ll know that you’ve met your orientation goals.

Have you tried any of the tips we’ve discussed? If so, e-mail me at susand@spellbindersinc.com.

Susan Drake is the author of “Light Their Fire, Using Internal Marketing to Ignite Employee Performance and WOW Your Customers.”

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