Orientation – The First 90 Days

By Douglas Weinstein
Published on: June 23, 2017

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This is part 3 of a series.

To read Part 1 – What is the Unique Ability Organization? – go here

To read Part 2 – How to Write a Job Description – go here

So you’ve identified and created a new position within the company, written a detailed job description, and gone out and found the Right Person for the job. For new hires, there is nothing more important in your building an effective workforce, then their first 90 days.  Here’s why.  Michael Watkins, a professor at Harvard Business School, did a study and found that companies who hired the Right People – but failed to have a detailed and orchestrated orientation process – 50% of them failed to meet the company’s and/or their own expectations.

Think about that from a monetary standpoint.  All of that investment down the drain. So here is an overview of the main concepts behind a formalized and effective 90 day orientation process.

The Break Even Point

You invest in the recruitment, interview and hiring process of each employee, as well as initial training for the first critical 90 days.  So, are you going to have an equally detailed approach to orientation or are you willing to make a 50% gamble on success? The goal of a formalized orientation process is to get your new employee to the point of where they are giving you a return on investment (the break even point) as soon as possible.  Only a thorough process that is structured and followed rigorously will suffice.

The 80%/20% Rule

In most companies, there are 20% of high achievers, as opposed to 80% of average or sub-average performers.  The overachievers have no time to spare for new hires, so new employees often are orientated into the new company culture by some of the people in the 80% group.  This leads to “don’t worry about what the boss said, we’ll show you how things really work around here.”

In other words, if you do not create a process where your top achievers and senior management are actively involved in the orientation process, you stand the very real possibility of turning Level A performers, the Right People, into level B or C performers.

So, it is important that you commit to having senior management and your top performers play a role in the orientation process.

Orientation Highlights

There are countless books and articles detailing the first 90 days of orientation. Here are the main assets you need to ensure become a part of your detailed and orchestrated orientation process:

Stakeholders – senior management buy-in. As I just mentioned, you need buy-in from your top performers. Perhaps consider a guardian angel or mentor program.

Core Values – attitude versus aptitude. You must include your company culture into the orientation process.  Getting people properly aligned has as much to do with getting their attitude in line with your existing staff, as with aligning their aptitude to your company processes and procedures.

Orientation types – company and job specific. There should be one orientation for the company (the SOP, policies, culture, etc.) as well as one job-specific orientation.  These should both be processes that you implement beginning on day one. Don’t make it up as you go along!

Evaluation – 1st day, week, month, etc.  Positive, professional employee evaluations are critical for long-term success. Beginning with day one (short and sweet) and building over the first week, month, etc (the evaluations become more structured and job-specific), you build for long-term success by evaluating in a fair and positive manner.

Feedback – continual from day 1. Just like employee evaluation, you must encourage employee feedback from day one. Recurring problems costs your employee’s 40% of their time! Do the math. If you will just listen to your employees, they will be able to help solve recurring problems, resolve client issues, and support the company because they feel valued as a team player.

Training – focused and on-going. Job specific and pre-planned from day one.

Career Path – long term commitment. Runs parallel to Training. The new employee’s career path should already have been discussed in the job interview cycle.

Work/Life Policy – employee retention. Every company needs a policy that balances every employee’s daily life with their work life.

Douglas Weinstein

Douglas Weinstein

Doug is the Editor and co-founder of the Technology Insider Group and Technology Designer Magazine. Previously, he was the Executive Director and co-founder of the Elf Foundation, a non-profit organization that created Room of Magic entertainment theaters in children's hospitals across North America.

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