Orientation or Initiation?

“I am overwhelmed, there is too much paper, and this is so boring!”

This is not a teenager talking about a high school class, but a typical new employee’s comments after a common workplace orientation session.

Many HR departments who run employee orientation or on-boarding sessions get it all wrong, and it sets up a poor employee relationship from day one. The new employee starts to think, “If the company can’t get this right, do I really want to work here?” Talk about a demotivating experience.

There are better ways to run an employee orientation. Think about it as an employee’s initiation, not orientation. HR should focus on how to make the new employee fit into the organization, not HR telling the employee about the organization.

Here is a great article from Forbes how on to get orientation right.

The research shows that having an individual-focused orientation can reduce employee turnover significantly. HR is the gatekeeper of new employees on their first day, make it meaningful to the employee, not an administrative activity that feels like the goal is to deaden the employees will to live. Orientation should be an exciting day for the employee and the employer. Let’s keep that in mind.

Discussion Questions

  • Think about a time you have experienced a very poor orientation session, what was done wrong in that session.
  • If you were the HR manager responsible for the orientation session, what would you recommend changing to make it more meaningful?

Employee Training Matters

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Here is a great little lesson on workplace improvement. If you want to improve your workplace, train your employees.

Employee training matters. Paying for employee training also matters.

Organizations should be committed to the ongoing upgrading of employees’ skills, and part of that commitment is paying employees while they learn new skills. This training will make the organization more successful.

It seems that many Canadian employers are not committed to helping their employees learn. According to a recent Robert Half survey of financial officers, only 24% of employers allow professional development during a work day.

Click here to read about this report in more detail.

Daniel Pink, a leader in workplace motivation, believes mastery is a key factor in improving workplace performance. The fact is, people want to have a continued sense of progress at work. This is a desire for mastery.

Click here to watch Dan Pink talk about Mastery.

Let’s think about Pink’s organization performance equation. Organizations want motivated workers; workers want to feel a continued sense of forward momentum. Therefore, organizations who support workers’ learning get more motivated employees.

The logic of Dan Pink’s equation seems simple enough, and it’s worth noting that there is empirical research from Harvard that supports his thesis. The question that must be asked, then, is why do 75% of Canadian employers not support paying for employees to learn?

To improve workplace motivation, productivity, and retention organizations need to start committing to employee development by supporting training. It is time to join the minority.

 

Discussion Questions:

Investigate and find research that illustrates a positive Return of Investment (ROI) on employee training.

Develop a 3-minute presentation on the added employment benefits of continual employee professional development.

 

Pink Ops — Self-Leadership Gaining Traction

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When you see the words “Pink Ops” you might think of some covert military operation that has a cute name to distract you from its real mission objectives. However, “Pink Ops” is what the Brenda Rigney, Vice President of Nurse Next Door Inc., a provider of home health care services, calls her department. It is an interesting term that includes people, marketing, operations, care services, and IT.

What is interesting about Brenda Rigney and her Pink Ops department is her philosophy on leadership, training, and employee engagement.

Click here to read about the Nurse Next Door Inc. self-leadership training.

To get a deeper understanding of Brenda Rigney’s philosophy we first have to look into her thoughts about active questions. It is that philosophy that leads into her company goal of self-leadership and employee engagement. Nurse Next Door believes in “intentional conversations”. According to Rigney, that means staff being trained to communicate with customers more effectively, and to listen to and connect with people better, rather than depending on managers to do it for them.

The above is really their core training outcome for their frontline employees’ self-leadership development and it seems to be working.

Rigney expands this concept of intentional conversation from her reading of Marshall Goldsmith’s book, Triggers, which advocates moving from passive questions to active questions. According to Goldsmith, organizations can achieve intentional conversations, which will create better employee engagement.

Click here to read Brenda Rigney’s summary on Marshall Goldsmiths’ active question technique.

Every year organizations spend millions of dollars on employee training — maybe it is time to consider moving from passive conversations to active conversations to get better employee engagement results.

 

Discussion Questions:

    1. In order to deepen your understanding of the power of active questions click on this link, watch the video, and try to answer Marshall Goldsmith’s daily questions. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YWpUqXFe4Fw
    2. You have been asked by your VP of HR to create a short presentation about how to improve employee engagement using active questions. Create a five-minute executive summary on this topic.

 

Talent Champion

Who to develop?

superhero businessman looking at city skyline at sunset. the concept of success, leadership and victory in business.
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The psychological contract of a lifetime of work with one employer is long gone. In our globalized workplace it was replaced with the concept of developing oneself in the workplace.

According to Daphne Woolf, many senior leaders are not as good at developing talent in others as they think they are or as they should be. Her video illustrates the concepts of “Talent Champion who understand that they are responsible for developing others more than developing themselves and if they don’t have this skill set it can be developed.

Many successful senior leaders obtained their position by being operational experts in their industry, not necessarily talent experts. But when they reach that senior level they must be both an operational expert and a talent champion.

Click here to watch a video with Daphne Wolf

Daphne Wolf believes a Talent Champion can be developed by doing the following:

  • Assessing the senior executive strengths in developing others.
  • Embed the concept in the senior executive that developing others is a fundamental responsibility of their role.
  • Give them the skills and strategies on how to mentor others.

Developing Talent Champions within an organization needs to become a proactive activity not just a passive activity. This can only happen if the senior executive is naturally affiliated to develop others. HR departments need to take a leadership role in ensuring that the coaching and mentoring of others is a core competency of all senior executives.

Discussion Questions

  1. Research to see if you can find a simple but effective mentoring-others self-assessment tool.
  2. Once you have found a tool use it to measure yourself on your ability to mentor others. Where are your strengths and where are your areas of improvement?
  3. Review some senior executive’s job description. Determine if they have ‘developing others’ as part of their job description. If so, identify some common terminology.

The ROI of Apprenticeships

Builder On Building Site Discussing Work With Apprentice
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You are not fired!

Donald Trump’s signature phrase “You’re Fired” from the reality TV show the Apprentice had it all wrong.  It should be “You’re Hired.” Apprenticeships are the way to go. The numbers are in and the ROI on apprenticeships cannot be ignored:

  • Every $1.00 spent on apprenticeships yields an ROI of 47% for employers
  • Exceptional placement rate after training
  • Extra lifelong earnings for the employees and a $50,000 average starting wage

This is according to Nicholas Wyman, CEO of the Institute for Workplace Skills and Innovation.

Click here to read an article on why companies should invest in apprenticeships.

Click here to read an article on why investing in apprenticeships makes good dollars and sense.

Apprenticeships are successful as they follow a well-tested training model that includes: job-related education, with supervised on the job learning and saleable wages. This system works.

Apprentices are no longer tied to the traditional trades: carpenter, electrician and mechanic. All type of industries and occupations such as sales, engineering, health care and computer programming can benefit from apprenticeships programs.

South Carolina is leading the way and taking apprenticeship programs beyond the norm.

Click here to see what South Carolina (SC) is doing right with apprenticeships.

Look at South Carolina’s apprenticeship growth numbers. In 2007, they had:

  • 90 companies that had apprenticeship programs, and now they have over 600 companies.
  • 770 apprentices and now nearly 11,000 apprentices.

What has caused this apprenticeship explosion? Three things, 1) it works, 2) a small employer tax credit and 3) Germany. Yes, Germany has set up companies in South Carolina and has brought its training philosophy to the State.

Is this program paying off for South Carolina? For he past three out of four years, South Carolina has been rated the best place in the world for international investment.

If you are lucky enough to get into an apprentice program it looks like you are hired!

Discussion Questions:

  1. Research colleges and companies that have expanded the apprenticeship program beyond the traditional trades.
  2. Pick a non-traditional apprenticeship program and develop a five minute presentation to your VP of HR to convince them they should consider developing an apprenticeship program.