Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Start With a BANG!

The universe was created like that and many good presentations begin like that - they Start With a Bang! I have heard this phrase used (and exploited) in many sessions that teach us how to create good presentations and deliver great training sessions. The basic idea is to grab the learner's attention in the first few seconds by doing something offbeat, putting them on the edge of their seats, and making it real and personal for them. I wanted to build on this idea as it relates to New Hire Training.

I feel passionate about training and more so when it is for new hires. For a trainer, the greatest opportunity lies in training that they conduct for new hires. You are beginning with people who are motivated, want to learn, and are open and willing to be molded as required. Can you get a better audience than that!
Of course, here we not only need to start with a bang but continue with a bang for atleast a year! So, it’s definitely more than the first few seconds.

Well, here is my attempt to articulate the secret ingredients of good new hire integration training! If we put more mind and matter into this training, we are sure to get the highest return on this investment. The result – happy new hires - who want to continue to work with your organization!

1) Not all at once! - We cannot train new hires on everything during the induction training! Yes, it may be difficult to filter AND we need to teach them virtually everything about everything eventually; but to start with, we need to come up with a manageable list and ensure that we do the best job with this list.

2) Divide and rule - Now that we have a manageable list, we need to space those items out. And when I mean space them out - I really mean to divide the list in three categories: 1st Day, 1st Week, 1st Year. The names of these categories may be anything - the idea is to allow new hires to learn all through the first year and keep focusing on what is required to start with. Information overload is a killer.

3) Vary the media - It is not easy to go through hours of classroom sessions. Even after knowing that, most organizations continue to train new hires in an instructor-led classroom mode. It is time to change! It is important to vary the training delivery media. Use self-paced books, workbooks, classroom training, elearning, audio/video, blogs, pod casts.....the options are unlimited. Analyze your current environment and try and design blended learning induction training.

4) Make it personal – When you take the responsibility of training new hires, you are essentially taking the responsibility to build a relationship. This relationship is between them and the organization. And we all know - if it’s not personal, it’s not worth it! There are different ways to make it personal – interactions, group discussions, feedback sessions, chats and online discussion forums, picnics and outings, involve families, joining celebrations, access to mentors, buddies etc. Find a way that best works for your organization.

5) Keep the connect – It is important to designate appropriate people in the training department who can maintain a connect with new hires through the year. Being sensitive to the needs of new hires will help the organization identify and close any gaps quickly. It is equally important to ensure that their supervisors provide enough feedback within the first year.

So, start with a bang and continue with it! You want the new hires to think and believe that they made the right decision when they walked through that door!

(On a related note - if we change the tags like ‘induction’, ‘orientation’, ‘bootcamp’ etc to call new hire training as ‘Integration training’, we will solve half of the problem. What’s in a name you may say – well… everything! The name of the training is the key to shift your thought process. What do you think of when I say words like induction and orientation? I bet you thought of your training, which was made of many hours of classroom sessions, overhead projector and slideshows, some animated expressions from trainers, and a thick handbook! But when I say the word ‘integration’ – we can think of blending – being a part of a group. So what we call new hire training is an important factor too – but more on that some other time.)

Chew on this:
“In the new benchmark report, "All Aboard: Effective Onboarding Techniques and Strategies," Aberdeen Group, a Harte-Hanks Company (NYSE: HHS), found that while 86% of all organizations surveyed agree that it takes up to six months for a new employee to make a firm decision to stay with the company, 61% of all organizations either don't offer a formal Onboarding program or end their Onboarding program within just one month. This benchmark report is a compilation of surveys and interviews from nearly 800 organizations globally and highlights how Best-in-Class performers are maximizing the value of their Onboarding process to improve new employee retention, reduce time to productivity and enhance employment brand.
The study also found that Best-in-Class organizations with respect to Onboarding are more likely to:
-- Begin Onboarding before the start date of employment
-- Ensure the Onboarding process is at least six months for select stakeholder groups
-- Extend Onboarding to all new employees, including those coming from mergers and acquisitions as well as those who have accepted internal job transfers
-- Make 'socialization' into the organization's culture a key focus of the Onboarding process”

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