Friday, March 02, 2007

Ten Ways to Botch the New Employee Orientation

  1. Let seniority, not speaking ability or knowledge of the organization, be the main criterion for selection of the session's speaker. That way, the new employees can get a clear look at what prolonged exposure to your workplace can do to what was once a dynamic individual.
  2. Hold the session in an unattractive location; preferably a basement or a messy conference room. A few hours there and the rookies will be eager to return to their work stations.
  3. If the size of the audience is considerable, don't break it into small groups. Let "Large and impersonal" be an accurate reflection of your corporate culture. Besides, an auditorium with an ancient sound system will discourage questions.
  4. Collect the pastries for refreshments during an early morning raid of the various break rooms.
  5. Position a large clock behind the speaker so audience members can see their lives slowly ticking away.
  6. Instruct the speaker that employee benefits and retirement plans are best described in a droning monotone...and at length. Have plenty of illegible hand-outs.
  7. Make sure that your attorneys have inserted their favorite "Anyone can be fired at any time and for any reason" warnings throughout the employee handbook. Such material should be briefly mentioned at the end of the morning break and just before the "We are Family!" part of the presentation.
  8. The generous use of PowerPoint slides is always advisable. Small font and many bullet points have been known to bring entire audiences to a catatonic state, especially if the speaker carefully reads the slides.
  9. There is no reason why the session should lack humor. All jokes, however, must be lengthy and poorly told. Disaster is assured if at least one is in dialect.
  10. Have an executive reluctantly stroll in at any point to welcome the group, but give prior instructions that his or her remarks must be no more than five minutes and void of any practical use.


Terrence Seamon said...

That is funny, Michael! Thanks for the laugh (and the sad truths).


Unknown said...


New employee handbook rollout today, which is close enough to an orientation.

1. Check
2. Check
4. Check
6-8 Check

6 out 10, not bad.

Do we get extra points for illegible Power Point lines running into the company logo?

Too Bad no one from HR will ever read this post. This accountant however agrees with you completely!


Michael Wade said...

Terrance and Mark,

Thanks for the comments.

Terrance, You're welcome and you're right: they are "sad truths."

Mark, I haven't seen the illegible PowerPoint lines running into the logo. That definitely gets extra points!

Anonymous said...

How about not having any "New Employee Orientation"?

Did this score some points?

Michael Wade said...


I think that in many cases not having a new employee orientation would be better than having a poor one. It's like Deming's views on performance evaluations: micro incident-based ones can be more meaningful than the macro annual ones that are usually inflated and inaccurate.