Thursday, June 17, 2010

All aboard

Much has been said, posted, tweeted, AND blogged about proper on-boarding and/or orientation of new hires.

You call it orientation, I call it on-boarding. Tomato, tomatoe.

One reason I like the term on-boarding, is because to me it sounds like you are going to be given a set of guidelines on what you need to do to get through your first few weeks. As in - the safety rafts are over there, the life jackets are under the seats, and oh, no smoking in the lavatories.

Orientation (again in my opinion) means we will point you in the right direction and then you are on your own. Look for the signs, avoid the black diamonds, and next Friday is Hawaiian shirt day.

I realize that I'm basing all of this on semantics (and over simplifying), but I don't think I'm that far off. And really, a fancy three-page scheduled orientation means squat if the person doing the orienting is an ass. Or doesn't know what they are doing. Or fills up three days with fluff.

Please people, get to the good stuff. Oh I know that you need to cover the policies (especially the important ones like dress code), procedures, health & safety, and IT, but come on...get to the stuff we really need to know in order to be successful in our the gossip and where the post-it notes are kept.

In my recent experience, I didn't really have an orientation (why would I, I'm in HR), but my boss did spend some time on-boarding me to the company.

In that hour, I got some pretty important information, such as:
- which person I needed to be careful with my words around, because it was a direct link to the VP
- which persons are having inter-office relationships that are causing issues because of reporting structures and possible fall-out
- who really called the shots among the senior management group
- who were the people identified as stars and who is on the shit list

Now these are things that I can work with. So, after the necessary seat belt demonstration and pointing out of the obvious exits, remember to ensure that someone is providing your new hires with the REALLY important information.