One month ago, I sat down at my desk at Ascentis for the first time. Heather, my office-mate, teacher, colleague, 85%-of-the-time lunch partner, mentor, and equal jazz nut, looked at me from across our desks and asked, “Ready?” I nodded, and since then, it seems like all I did was blink, and now I’m one month in. But actually, right after that nod, something extremely important happened. And I was reminded of it in our last webinar, “Good Beginnings Make Good Employees: Legal and Effective New Employee Orientations” with Judi Clements.
My orientation here at Ascentis wasn’t simply the first day nuances all rolled into one 8-hour purge of information and paperwork. Too often, at least in my experience, the orientation was nothing more than the realization that I’d just signed away 40-50 hours of my week, accompanied by a whirlwind of introductions and handshakes. In fact, my Ascentis orientation was the opposite. I mean, sure there was paperwork and I met some people, but it was effective for a number of ways. A big number of ways, actually. Here’s why (with special thanks to Judi Clements for the content):
1.) A good first impression
The atmosphere was cool. I could hear music coming from offices and cubes. Laughter and conversation all around. People began introducing themselves to me, as if they were expecting me and were looking forward to me being here. Everything was the opposite of what I’d come to expect from the corporate world that movies and TV had taught me. Heather walked me through the office and started explaining all the cool things they had: “I think we’re getting a ping-pong table in here,” “We get fresh fruit delivered a couple times a month,” “Couple of sports die-hards over there — feel free to jump in on their conversations anytime you want.”
2.) Up to speed
Heather sat me down at my desk, and told me to log on to our Employee Self Service site, where I could enter in all of my information and officially be “in the system.” Easy. Done in minutes. That did away with the process of being locked in the conference room while I fill out endless paperwork. Phew.
When we got to talking about what I’d actually be doing here, Heather made sure not to present it to me as a checklist of the tasks I needed to complete on a daily basis, but rather how I fit into the larger picture at the company. That made me feel a little less like a robot, and more like a moving piece inside the company’s motor.
3.) Good introductions
The whirlwind of introductions that can happen during an orientation can be overwhelming. On top of that, there’s the pressure of trying to remember everyone’s name and what they do because you don’t want to offend anyone. So I was introduced to one person at a time, with a reasonable time for me to actually hear what they say. The people were friendly, interesting, and down-to-earth. I kept expecting to meet the person who was too busy to introduce themselves, but he/she didn’t exist. Even people from other branches called and emailed to say hello and welcome.
Next, I was given the chance to get comfortable with the equipment I’d be working with. That meant personalizing the space I’m in, the computer I’m on, the view that I have, and the sounds I hear.
Heather must’ve known I was better off learning from experience rather than reading a manual or watching over her shoulder, because each new task she took on for the day included letting me take a hack at it. (My first task was my first blog post.) And that’s how its been since that day. She does, I try, now I handle.
5.) A warm welcome
Yeah, yeah, they took me out to lunch, and that was nice of them. What I really appreciated was the chance to be part of conversations and not feel like my training was slowing anyone else down. The people were genuine and authentic, and it was clear that I was welcome. My new bosses and colleagues encouraged me to ask questions and take the time to explore my new workplace. And finally, they reassured me that the company was headed in a positive direction, and that I’d be an important part of it.
And off I went. And here I am, one month later, writing to you happily.
You can watch Judi’s presentation here, or visit her website here.
If you’re interested in viewing any of the other great HR or payroll focused webinars Ascentis has to offer, you can visit our webinar archive here.
As always, make it a great day!