Greetings. Even in our challenging economy, companies and organizations are bringing on new staff and hoping they'll be able to make a difference as quickly as possible. But all too often they begin these new and important relationships with an old and tired idea–orientation. The practice of bringing new employees into the fold and making them fine, upstanding and highly-productive members of our tribe in as little time as possible. After all, time is money and we would have never filled this position unless we were desperate to get a pile of work done. And so our ancestors invented "orientation" as the fastest way to get the new folks up to speed on what our organization believes in, what we actually do and exactly how we do it. Let's show them our way–which is obviously far better than the way they did things at the old company or, for that matter, at any time in their life before they lucked out and got a job here. Otherwise, why in the world would they ever have joined us.
But what if its not far better? In fact, what if we are down-right mediocre at some things that really matter? Then wouldn't it be far better to have them orient us?
New employees are an amazing gift! They show up with new enthusiasm, energy and a burning desire to contribute and add value. They also arrive with new ideas and fresh perspectives based on a new and different set of life and work experiences. Ideas, perspectives and experiences that could actually make us more successful. But instead of quickly celebrating and tapping their differences, all too often we race to make them just like us. And orientation becomes the first step in sucking the genius right out of them.
Doesn't it make more sense to find out what they know and how we look through their eyes? If so, its relatively easy to do. Because after they complete their forms and get their ID badges, we can send them off to explore our business without any preconceived notions. Talk to anyone they'd like, including the CEO. Attend a few meetings of their choosing. Visit departments they will need to collaborate with. Ask a bunch of thoughtful questions. Wander around to see us in action. Then come back and tell us their thoughts on what we seem to know and do very well, and the areas in which we seem partially or totally clueless. And in the process, we will have begun to demonstrate our interest in their ideas and commitment to their success.