Why Starting A New Job Can Really Suck!

Tim Sackett Onboarding, Tim Sackett

The HR Capitalist, Kris Dunn, and I have something in common (no it’s not our mad outside J) – we’ve both started new gigs recently.  I think we would both argue that we landed some pretty good positions, with great companies – but I might also argue that both companies probably could have done a little better on the orientation side of the equation.  I won’t speak for Kris, his company might have laid out the red carpet, had his company laptop and cell phone up and running, as they handed it to him with his new business cards as he parked in his personal executive parking spot – but my first day/week wasn’t quite that organized.  Being that this isn’t my first rodeo, I expected as much – because rarely have I seen a company get it right – there’s always effort and well meaning people – but the majority of us just struggle to remember what it is like being an employee in our first days and weeks.

Now, I’m not talking about the orientation that many HR Administrators who are reading this right now New hires believe they have locked and loaded. You know the one – 8 hours in one room as a parade of managers/directors from the departments like safety, legal, risk, training, diversity, benefits, and which ever executive drew the short straw to come tell of the great new mission, vision, values, policies, systems, practices, guidelines, do/don’ts of every possible thing you might run into in your 30 year career!   The kind of day where you find yourself putting toothpicks in your eyelids to keep you eyes open (true story – I was actually called by the CEO at one company I worked for to come fire someone who had fallen asleep at orientation, on their first day, during his opening speech! I still wondered who should have been fired in that case?! Since, it was the 2nd time HR had been called for someone falling asleep during his speech!). I’m talking about how we really get people ready to take on the roles we’ve hired them for.

So, what does it look like when we (HR Pros) get it right?

When I went to work for Applebee’s International as a HR Regional Manager a few years back – they got it – they got it at a very high level (shout out to my HR Peeps at Applebee’s! – you still Rock!).   About 10 days before I started I got an email from my supervisor with two attachments.  The first one was a calendar which had what I would be doing by day – for the next 60 days (and yes – 1 of those days was the corporate orientation, 8 hours in a room and please drink the kool-aid). The other was a break down of all the systems and processes I would have to know to be effective in my job.  The break down of processes was linked to the calendar, so that as I met with different individuals over the next two months – I would eventually learn all I would need to know.

–Step 1: Have Proper Expectations of your New Hires

Applebee’s didn’t expect that I would start day 1, week 1 and be a rock star.  They expected that day 1, week 1, I would probably want to know where the bathroom is and should I park in front or back.  How many times do we ask new hires in their first week to come into an important meeting and spout off their opinion? Not knowing the context, what the organization already believes, etc. We set them up to fail.

–Step 2: Don’t let the New Hire show up Day 1 not knowing what they’ll be doing

You want to talk about anxiety – “just show up at 8am and we’ll get you started” – that will really show them how good you are.  Make a plan and share with the person – Before they actually start. Believe me, they appreciate it, and you’ll have faster ramp up time.

–Step 3: Have a clue about what success looks like

The most valuable piece of a good orientation is to share with the new hire what your organization views as success for the position the person is coming into.  Day 1, week 1, everyone will know where they need to go.

–Step 4:  One size doesn’t fit all

This probably something best left to hiring managers and departments where the person is going to work. HR can support this process by providing a great framework for design of the program, and ensuring all new hires don’t get cheated out of a great orientation to the organization.

It doesn’t have to be all glossy and bound – but it does have to be thought out and executed. Make sure the time and resources and put into the content, and not how it looks.