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?

Train the Management Brain

Fabio Berti/Shutterstock

There is a saying that effective leaders are born and not made. Why then do most organizations implement management training programs in order to support and promote leadership development?

It may be that there is something to be gained from ongoing leadership training, especially in the area of skill development for emotional intelligence. Among the many practical and professional requirements that are expected from individuals in managerial roles, most organizations expect their leaders to connect with, shape and motive others in positive ways. This cannot happen if the person in the leadership role does not know how to interact with others in an emotionally intelligent way.

Dr. Travis Bradbury is the co-author of ‘Emotional Intelligence 2.0’. He has provided a very good synopsis of the benefits of training for emotional intelligence in a recent article posted on the HuffPost website.

Click here to read the article.

While not specifically aimed at management development, Dr. Bradbury’s synopsis provides interesting statistical evidence that promotes this particular need for leadership training. Through the development of their emotional intelligence skills, average performers are able to see significant improvements in their level of performance and, correspondingly, ongoing increases in their level of monetary rewards.

It is ironic that emotional intelligence is not about the development of feelings. Instead, as Dr. Bradbury explains, emotional intelligence results from training the brain to ensure that we build effective ‘in-brain’ communication through the science of neuro-plasticity.  We can exercise our brains to make new and better connections between our rational and emotional brain centres. Training our brains result in higher levels of emotional intelligence. Higher levels of emotional intelligence result in leadership success.

Discussion Questions:

  1. In your opinion, what is the link between emotional intelligence and leadership success?
  2. Identify how a management development program can be implemented through the use of training for emotional intelligence.
  3. If your employer told you that you had to attend an emotional intelligence training program, how would you respond? Explain your reaction.

What Do You Need to Succeed?


Needs Assessment: A Review

An organization’s training and development program is only as good as its needs assessment.

Here is a great comprehensive review of the needs assessment process and how important it is to successful employee training. It is so important to have successful employee training outcomes.

Karla Gutierrez from Shift–Disruptive Elearning sums up what can go wrong when an organization does not do a proper needs assessment.

Click here to read a summary

We teach:

  • the right people the wrong things
  • the right things to the wrong people
  • the right skills the wrong way

The best way to avoid the above is an upfront needs assessment. All organizations and HR departments usually need a refresher on a proper needs assessment to avoid the negative outcomes of not doing one.

Click here to see a PowerPoint overview of a proper needs assessment.

Discussion Questions

  1. After reviewing the eight steps of a needs assessment process, pick two that you feel are easy to accomplish and pick two that you feel are harder to accomplish. Once chosen explain your reasoning and defend your arguments with examples.
  2. Explain why training and development need assessments are important and why so many organizations fail to conduct proper ones.

Change your Brain, Change your Performance

The Future of Employee Training

brain lifting weights: illustration
Beatriz Gascon J/Shutterstock

Most employers have the organization goal to train and develop their employees, but the age old question always arises. In what areas do employees need to be developed? Perhaps organizations need to approach training their employee’s brains like fitness instructors train their bodies.

Dr. Judy Brockis, the author of Future Brain: The 12 Keys to Create Your High Performance Brain, suggests we can drastically improve our brain’s performances. Let’s start by describing Dr. Brockis twelve keys to brain performance.

Click here to read more about these twelve brain keys.

Key nine focuses on Change ability, a skill that can assist employees and organizations to adapt to change.

What is brain change ability? Well, the concept is very closely tied to the concept of neural plasticity, which is the brain’s ability to grow, develop and change its neural structural. Research on neural plasticity is well developed and it illustrates that we all have the ability to grow and develop at any age. If we combine the concept of neural plasticity and Dr. Brockis’s brain key number nine, change ability, we may have more tools to help employees manage change in their workplace.

Dr. Brockis outlines that our brains are dynamic and designed to change and adapt. It is our fear response that can impede change.

In her article in HRM Canada, Dr. Brockis feels that the human brain “is really wired to change, change is beneficial and always present, and it is part of the human condition. But it is all about psychological safety, the brain needs to feel that the change is not a threat in order to accept it.”

Click here to read an article on Dr. Brockis and change in the workplace.

The HR professional needs to understand the future training needs of employees and should become versed in the concepts neural plasticity and change ability, and integrate them into any change management program they wish to implement.

Discussion Question:

  1. Your VP of HR has asked you what you would recommend to make a workplace change successful. After reading the twelve keys to a fit brain, create a five minute presentation on training employees on a fit brain in the workplace and how it can reduce the turmoil during an upcoming change initiative.


You Are Never Too Young For Health And Safety

Woman holding boxes

Do you remember the excitement of starting your first job? Perhaps it was working at a summer camp in the kitchen ‘dish-pit’, bussing tables at a restaurant, delivering newspapers in your neighbourhood or working as a cashier at the local grocery store. With this first job came your first pay-cheque and the pride of saving for something that you could buy with your own well-earned money. Hopefully these are positive memories for you of your first steps into the world of ‘adult’ work.

As part of your first job do you remember receiving Health and Safety training? This part of your memory may not be as clear because, unfortunately, many young workers are not provided with the necessary introductions to working safely.

All workers, especially inexperienced workers, need to be protected by legislative requirements and by their employer. Someone on their very first job needs more care and attention devoted to their personal safety. As such, it is fundamental that the employer provides resources, training and support to emphasize and prioritize how to work safely.

Workplace Safety North is an excellent on-line resource for employers. It provides up-to-date safety information, promotional materials, Ministry of Labour alerts and valuable prevention tips for Northern Ontario industries. It also provides a comprehensive overview of the requirements for employers to protect young workers in any industry. This material includes two very compelling video clips.

The first relates the tragic story of 18-year-old David Ellis who was killed on the job on his second day of work. Rob Ellis, David’s father, speaks eloquently and painfully about the circumstances and the impact of his son’s death. It is powerful viewing.

The second clip provides an orientation for young workers that any employer can use as part of their introductory health and safety resources. This is a useful and necessary tool for any workplace.

Click here to review Workplace Safety North’s young worker resources.

If you keep your younger self in mind, finding your own way through your early work experience, perhaps it will help you to help others as you develop your own workplace Health and Safety resources.

Discussion Questions:

  1. When and how will you use the young worker safety orientation clip as part of a new employee orientation program?
  2. Why do you think an employer should pay particular attention and provide more support to young workers with regard to health and safety practices?
  3. What types of health and safety training did you receive on your first job? What would you do differently if you were the employer?