Designing & Managing the Orientation Process for New Team Members

Instructor: Nathan Hurwitz

Dr. Nathan Hurwitz is a tenured Associate Professor in Theatre and has three books in print, two textbooks and a coffee table book.

By designing and managing the orientation process for new team members and their teams, you can help new members understand their responsibilities and help integrate them into the team.

The Orientation Process

While new employee orientation is really important, many companies mishandle it. In Company A, Ltd., orientation is minimized, relegated to a handbook and stack of papers handed to the new employee. The orientation of their competitor, Corporation One, Inc. tries to cover everything, it becomes overwhelming, leaving their new employees confused.

Too many companies overlook the importance of orientation to set the stage for successful teamwork. Orientation should not only introduce the work but should also help them understand the team environment they're entering.

An employee who hasn't been adequately on-boarded isn't as likely to be as productive as they could be. They're more likely to fail at integrating with their team and more likely to leave the job within the first year. Mishandled orientation is costly to your business, unfair to the employee and to the team they are joining. Done well orientation will set the new employee up for success within their team and in the organization.

Understanding the Big Picture

Dr. Jennifer Croyden, the VP of Corporate Sales for Industry Uno actively participates, taking a hands-on approach to the development and implementation of the orientation for her new employees. She makes sure that her new employees understand the 'big picture' and how they serve the overall goals of the organization.

Creating individualized orientation material, Dr. Croyden makes sure each employee learns:

  • The organization's overall goals.
  • How the new employee's team fits into those goals.
  • The organization's culture including values, behaviors, professional and social practices.
  • The chain of accountability.
  • The business model that their new team follows.
  • How the team deals with failure.
  • How the team deals with success.
  • The personalities and types currently on the team.
  • The tasks the new employee is expected to perform.
  • How the new employee should function.
  • How these tasks have been performed previously (and to what degree of success).

By beginning with the organization's overall goals, working down to the team's goals, and then the new employee's tasks, Dr. Croyden clarifies what the company expects of them and why.

Integrating New Members into Teams

Both Company A and Corporation One from our earlier examples follow orientation by putting new hires into meetings with their teams and leaving them to their own devices. Dr. Croyden, however, includes integration of her new hires and their teams with orientation. She knows that the new hire need to be introduced to the team and the team need to be introduced to the new hire in a way that sets them up for success.

Her checklist list of team integration includes:

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