Acclimating New Employees for Success

A new employee’s success has largely to do with how well they adjust to the company and its current workers, ethics, vision, mission and practices. As an employer, you have a responsibility to acclimate your new employees to ensure their and your success. Your current customers, vendors, and employees’ families benefit from your efforts to ensure new employees are well acclimated. When current employees become aware that things are not working, they often blame the company, and morale plummets.
 Hiring a person that will later need to be terminated, for any reason, is expensive. Conservatively speaking, the costs for hiring, training, supervising, liability, and all non-tangibles add up to over 38% of an employee’s annual salary. Therefore, it is critical that you set the stage for your new employees (and your company) to win.
Doing a great job of interviewing the person will not ensure the new person’s success unless you include an orientation program to acclimate them for success. Your company’s orientation process should clarify what the company does, how it does it, how people work together within the company, and the systems used internally and externally for delivery of products and services. It should include sharing the “social” norms and expectations employees, management and owners have of each other, including work ethic and level of integrity.
Orientation Programs

When most people start with a company, they are given lots of manuals and other written material to read and absorb. Unfortunately, most new employees will be unable or unwilling to read and fully understand them. Additionally, many are bored and disengaged in the process from the very beginning, because their primary learning style may not be reading based. Be aware that many company practices are often taken for granted by your current employees and not included in written form, making it difficult for new employees to understand exactly what you want.

The Basics of an Orientation Program

  • Have an orientation program that begins on the new employee’s first day
  • Be sure all paperwork is completed and introductions have been made
  • Set up lunches and/or meetings with key people that will be working with the new employee
  • Have video/DVD and written materials for the person to get “up to speed” on your products and/or services
  • Assign a trainer, mentor, or key person available for questions and clarification
  • Include programs for company etiquette, history, mission, values and communications
  • Review the Employee Handbook with them topic by topic; don’t rely on people reading something new and readily understanding how it works within your company
  • Have them spend time with key people in different departments, learning your company’s systems and how those systems can impact customers, internally and externally
  • Identify an individual for the new employee to ask questions, review how well they are doing, and discuss any problems they have encountered

After Three Months

Provide the employee with written feedback of his/her performance, including both areas that are working well and areas for improvement. For a new supervisor/manager/executive, have the work team participate in a 360-degree feedback program. Remember to keep specific respondent’s names confidential from their comments. Encourage the new supervisor/manager/executive to share specific areas of his/her feedback with the work group to better understand “what’s working” and “what’s not working.” These should also be shared with the mentor and boss to ensure they are on the same page. Establish goals, action plans and weekly/bi-weekly follow-up. Include training and development opportunities, self-study and group programs.

After Six Months

Time for more feedback using the same methodology that you used at the first three-month review. Review the goals you had established at three months and how well (or not) s/he progressed. Remember if the boss of the new person has done a good job, there should be no surprises as to how successful the person was in accomplishing these goals. Re-establish goals or refine the ones s/he is working on. Set up action plans and biweekly follow-up with the boss. Provide new training and development programs for success.

After One Year

Time for more feedback as well as clarity for the next year’s goals. Be sure this is an interactive process that meets the company’s needs as well as the person’s professional development.

Letting Them Go

Keeping a person that does not (or can not) fully handle all of their essential job responsibilities negatively impacts morale, customers, work systems, and your company’s reputation as an employer.

At anytime during this first year, or after, it may become necessary to terminate the person’s employment with your company. Be sure to document, review with your attorney and/or human resources professional, and handle immediately.

If you’ve done a great job of acclimating a new employee for success, everyone wins.

© Jeannette L. Seibly & John W. Howard, 2005

Jeannette Seibly, Principal of SeibCo — your partner in developing work and career strategies for selection, results and growth, We improve your bottom line!

John W Howard, Ph.D., owner of Performance Resources, Inc. helps businesses of all sizes increase their profits by reducing their people costs. His clients hire better, fire less, manage better, and keep their top performers.