Tag Archives: new employee orientation

Seeking Perfection

Here’s a thought provoking TED Talk about valuing perfection.

Jon Bowers of UPS tells us that “Trying our best is not good enough” and “we seek perfection and settle for nothing less”. But what if we think of perfection in a different way?

First day at Work

You’ve hired your new employee. Today is their first day at work. Now what?

Are you prepared to welcome your new hire and give them a great first impression on their first day at your company?

What does your company’s onboarding procedure look like? Take the time to make desk-and-suppliesthe necessary steps to have a comprehensive onboarding plan for your new hire. Try to put yourself in your new staff member’s position and ask “how would I want my first day at work to go?”  Make sure that your existing team is part of the onboarding process and that they help with setting the tone, and showcase the company’s corporate culture.

Making your new employees feel welcome is the key.  The hiring process is expensive, don’t waste that investment.

Job Interview

This is a few years old, but all the same a great video on the ultimate job interview. Enjoy!

From the Archives: Welcome Party 101. Your new employee.

This is one of our most popular blog posts about onboarding from about 5 years ago. The sentiment still holds true.

women-shaking-handsImagine this. You are sitting alone with an outdated manual on your first day on the job, waiting to learn which will be your workstation. Your new supervisor has all but ignored you, going about their usual routine, dashing in and out of meetings. Welcome aboard.

Think back to your first day on the job and what that experience meant to you. The recent buzz in employee orientation is ‘employee onboarding.’ Just as first impressions are the key to the success of most businesses, so it goes in the world of new employees. Familiarity breeds contentment; so does a solid employee onboarding program as a tool to attract the best talent.

Companies with strong employment engagement track records have clearly defined employee onboarding programs. The best talent is drawn to environments where effective programs exist and are demonstrated by high levels of employee engagement and low employee turnover. While it’s common sense to invest in creating and maintaining these programs, too often they are overlooked.

By simplifying the onboarding process, employers can expect new employees to hit the ground running, and be able to contribute more quickly to a corporation’s success.

So, keep it simple and you are more likely to stick with it. A few things to remember:

  • Have your new hire’s desk ready with computer log-in, e-mail account and telephone system all up. Don’t forget about business cards.
  • Assign a buddy for the first month – nothing breaks the ice more than with a person familiar with the company’s culture and core values. Most importantly – to greet them when they arrive on their first day and show them around.
  • Take your new hire out for lunch on the first day – or coffee at very least
  • Need we mention a concise orientation book- what to know about your company
  • Define the deliverables for the new employee – give them a road map so that they can see their future with your company and feel a part of it.
  • Communication is key – give them a feedback loop and encourage feedback, they may have new perspectives to share
  • Inform your employees in advance of the new hire’s arrival.

Gain the reputation for having a strategic onboarding program which will encourage the best talent to be drawn to your company. You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Your welcome party initiative will most definitely provide long-term results.

From the archives: The Importance of Cultural Fit – Part II

Cultural Fit Part II –  How to hire the “Perfect” Candidate

A lot of people will wish you luck in finding the perfect candidate – they will say that you need it. Not true! Employers can make their own luck by carefully selecting the right person and merging him/her with your existing team.

Like any successful business practice, a little bit of process and planning will yield huge dividends.

Start with the Details

First, you must be able to describe the position in a detailed and accurate way.  To do this, systematically evaluate why previous employees have left. Were there technical gaps? Relationships that never gelled?  Examine performance reviews for the entire team, and look for recurring themes of strength or weakness. Use this information to draw up a new, fully detailed job description that focuses equally on technical expertise and behavioural characteristics. Yes, you may want to skip this step! Persevere – this information will allow you to exactly pinpoint the person you’re looking for.

Build a Common Vision

If this is a complex role, ensure senior managers involved in the hiring process generally agree on what a “perfect” candidate looks like in terms of experience and personality. Schedule a brief meeting, and separate the criteria into “must have” and “helpful to have”. You may be surprised to hear how members of the same team view the role differently! This meeting will provide clarity once you begin the interview process, and will save valuable time and effort.

What Do You Need to Know From Your Candidates?

Select the right interview questions to screen for desired behaviours. To do this, go through the information you learned in step one, and ask for specific examples of how the candidate has dealt with similar challenges in the past. This is called Behavioural Interviewing Techniques, and it brings a great deal of clarity about a candidate’s experience and their way of thinking. Truly, it explains how they “get things done,” which is a combination of internal motivators, external motivators and communication style. If you follow this process, the top 1-2 candidates should stick out by a mile.

Mentor Success!

Congratulations, you’ve chosen an amazing person for your organization and your work is done. Well, almost! Research shows the on-boarding process ultimately determines whether a person succeeds or fails.  An employee handbook is no longer sufficient.  During the first ninety days, your new employee must quickly learn the unspoken and unwritten rules about how the organization operates – ie. your culture. How quickly they learn this determines their success, and this is particularly true for senior management and executive roles. As a direct manager, you are responsible for ensure they understand your culture and communicate in an appropriate style. Many managers believe the new employee should have to “prove themselves” or “establish their value to the team.” However, we believe that current market conditions, changes in business direction and competitor threats will give your new team member ample opportunity to contribute to your organization! Most importantly, ensuring your new hire feels welcomed and respected means you’ll avoid having to go back to step one.

Your ability to mentor your new hire will allow them to shine, and effectively contribute to your organization!

photo credit: Joe Shlabotnik

8 Behavioural Questions You’re Not Asking

Human ResourcesAn experienced interviewer knows why we’re asking behavioural style questions. Looking at past behaviour predicts future performance.

There are many types of questions depending on the situation you are looking to focus on. For example, an interviewer might want to narrow in on situations such as how a future employee will handle pressure, or what their problem solving skills are like. There are questions that are directly related to sales roles. The possibilities are endless.

Following are some questions hiring experts use that could garner some revealing answers:

  1. How have you led others in solving a problem? Give an example.
  2. Describe how you set an example for other employees. Be specific.
  3. When have you inspired someone to work hard to do a better job? How did you do that?
  4. Describe a time when you weren’t sure what a client/customer wanted. How did you handle the situation?
  5. Describe a major change at a place of work, and how you managed it.
  6. Please tell me about a recent goal you set for yourself and  how you achieved it.
  7. All jobs have their frustrations and problems. Describe some specific tasks or conditions that have been frustrating you. Why were they frustrating?
  8. Describe some recent work-related problems and the decisions you  made to solve them.

Job Search tips – part 2

Consider the following guidelines when when beginning a new position.  These guidelines will ensure a positive experience for yourself as well as for the company you chose to work for.business suit

‘on the job’ tips

  • Be sure to be a few minutes early on the first day on the job to familiarize yourself with the office environment and routine. (up to fifteen minutes early is sufficient)
  • Confirm dress code prior to first day on the job. If ever unsure of dress code it is better to be more corporately dressed.
  • Maintain a positive attitude and outlook at all times. This will help you naturally turn problems into opportunities.
  • Plan to have at least one or two relevant questions or statements to ask or comment on during the orientation or training session. This will confirm your interest in the role and the company in general.
  • Come to the first day on the job with a pen and notebook to take notes on new details and general information. Ensure you are clear on any position details.  Ask questions—don’t assume.
  • Send a thank you card to the person that offered you the position. As mentioned in Part 1, in the internet age, this will certainly help you stand out in the long term.
  • Be proactive – if you have completed your assigned work, ask for additional work.
  • Respect company and employee confidentiality regarding any information you learn about the company, other employees’ salaries as well as your own.  Compensation (your own or others) is to be held in strict confidence.
  • If you feel that you ever experience unprofessional behaviour from a peer or manager consider the whole situation and any trends. Once you have done this, look to speak confidentially with the Human Resource Manager.
  • It is not always easy being ‘the new guy’, but your positive outlook will always help you get through.


photo credit: _Davo_

Hiring right, the first time.

People responsible for hiring often find themselves hiring in a panic. A vacancy occurs, a job description and employment ad are hastily pulled together and the HR department starts recruiting.

Unfortunately, they have missed the point. It is not just about filling the void with a qualified individual; it is about determining exactly what your company needs to be great and finding someone who will go above and beyond that. A great employee is as much about fit as it is about skill.

True, companies will usually spend more time finding the right person for senior vacancies, but the same level of attention needs to be used for all positions, from entry level and administrative to marketing and customer service.

“Finding someone who fits your corporate culture is, in some ways, more important than finding someone with the right skill set.”
~ Sarah McNeill

It’s in the best interests of every company to hire the greatest person for the position; the flip side is the tremendous cost of hiring the wrong person. There are the obvious costs of re-advertising and re-interviewing, but that isn’t all.

You’ve invested time in orientation and training for the new employee, not to mention the time spent recruiting. If you have to let that person go, that time and money have just walked out the door. Making the wrong hiring decision affects everyone in the company; it reduces productivity, and causes internal turmoil.

If you hire the right people, they can hit the ground running. Bringing them on is virtually seamless. Not only do they take less time to train, but they bring passion for their new job.

What went wrong: a lesson about onboarding

Companies with strong employment engagement usually have clearly defined employee onboarding programs. The best talent is drawn to environments where effective programs exist resulting in high levels of employee engagement and low employee turnover. While it seems like common sense to invest in creating and maintaining these programs, they are often overlooked.

Imagine a situation where a new hire has started at your company but there is no formal onboarding system in place. The new hire has a very important but sometimes undervalued role in the company as the Office Manager/Administrator.   The direct supervisor is a recently new hire themselves so there is no clear direction of what to do. The Office Manager has arrived with a job description in mind but no formal training occurs, nor do they have opportunities to receive weekly or even monthly reviews.  In addition, the busy sales company hasn’t had an Office Manager before as everyone just pitched in. It seemed like everyone assumes the new hire was clear on their job requirements and trained by the other team members.

The rest of the employees couldn’t draw upon history to assist the Office Manager in what to do. Frustration is building with the new hire and in a short time the Office Manager quits and everyone is in shock at what has happened.

This situation could create long-term damage to your corporate brand and could be prevented with an onboarding system in place. Ideally, companies need to plan their program before they start the hiring process. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Your company just needs a well thought out plan with a person accountable to see the new hire through a training-feedback process.

  • Have your new hire’s desk ready with computer log-in, e-mail account and telephone system all up. Don’t forget about business cards.
  • Assign a supervisor who is accountable for training the new hire.
  • Assign a buddy for the first month – nothing breaks the ice more than with a person familiar with the company’s culture and core values. Most importantly – to greet them when they arrive on their first day and show them around.
  • Take your new hire out for lunch on the first day – or coffee at very least
  • Train the new hire with a concise orientation book about your company
  • Seek feedback from the new hire- they can tell you where they need more assistance, clarity or direction
  • Communication is key – use monthly reviews to provide feedback and encourage feedback
  • Inform your employees in advance of the new hire’s arrival. Onboarding starts as soon as the offer letter is accepted, not simply just the new hire’s first day at the company.

Without an onboarding program, the investment in a new hire is likely to be wasted away. By simplifying the onboarding process, employers can expect new employees to hit the ground running, and be able to contribute more quickly to a corporation’s success.

Onboarding Strategies and your Seasonal Workers

During peak periods – around the holidays, tax season or over the summer – it’s critical that businesses can easily manage the addition of temporary employees and quickly get them up to speed. And from recruiting and training to offboarding, seasonal employees can put your human resources software and processes to the test. Not only do you have to find and hire the right people, you have a very short time to train them and get them connected to your organization. Here, I’ve outlined a few ways to go above and beyond your normal onboarding process to get seasonal employees geared up and ready to go.

5 Tips for Onboarding Strategies

Some people may assume I’m focused on training when I say “onboarding,” but the fact is that the employee experience starts in the recruiting stage. With this in mind, here are a few key strategies to help you throughout every phase of the process:

1.  Tailor your recruiting strategies. Your recruiting efforts should be tailored to meet the specific needs of a seasonal workforce. It’s important to make the details of the opportunity clear from the get-go. Also, be wary of how you communicate potential for further employment, as you don’t want folks making assumptions.

2.  Perform due diligence. Don’t skimp on due diligence in collecting legal papers and monitoring employees’ schedules. “A lot of people short-circuit processes like verifying work eligibility or tracking hours correctly. It should go without saying, but you really need to be sure you’re following the law,” says John Rossheim, a senior contributing writer at Monster.com.

3.  Provide proper training. According to Forbes Woman columnist and onboarding expert Emily Bennington, onboarding should focus on integrating new employees in three areas:

  • Technical Skills: To what depth of expertise do seasonal employees need to be trained to perform their jobs?
  • Company Culture: How thoroughly do seasonal hires need to understand company policies and values?
  • Social Integration: In what ways can you connect seasonal employees to your organization so they feel like they are part of the team?

Furthermore, Rossheim suggests designing your seasonal workforce “to accomplish the task at hand, rather than haphazardly training everyone to do everything they may possibly have to do. Specialize rather than throwing everyone into the same bucket.”

4.  Know your capacity upfront. Whether you have a general human resources management system or a hodgepodge of spreadsheets and checklists – it’s important to know your capacity. Can your back-office system efficiently handle an increased volume in applicants and new hires?

5.  Make them part of the team. Seasonal employees can easily feel isolated if an onboarding program doesn’t successfully connect them to the organization. According to Eddie Baeb of Target Corportate Communications, Target is focused on engaging seasonal employees and making them feel just as valued as anyone else from day one. With nearly 40 percent (about 35,800) of seasonal team members joining as permanent employees last year after the holidays, they’ve got this down.

End Things on a Good Note with Offboarding

You may have discovered a few star performers you’d like to bring onto your team permanently. For the rest, though, Bennington says “there’s definitely an opportunity to establish brand ambassadors.” Offboarding provides a chance to make a lasting positive impression, while gaining insight into the worker’s experience.

Standard offboarding practices include surveying workers on their experience. Bennington suggests going beyond surveying, and having one-on-one exit interviews with select employees to get more candid responses.

This guest post was written by: Kyle Lagunas

Kyle Lagunas is the HR Analyst at Software Advice. On the surface, it’s his job to contribute to the ongoing conversation on all things HR. Beyond that, he makes sure his audience is keeping up with important trends and hot topics in the industry. Focused on offering a fresh take on points of interest in his market, he’s not your typical HR guy.