A guest blog post by author, Alexia Vernon
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of presenting a webinar sponsored by Ascentis on the topic of the future of Onboarding – engaging employees from day 1, through the first 90 days of employment, and how it critically impacts the company culture. Just a few of the points covered were:
- Why onboarding is NOT the same thing as orientation
- How to design an effective first day experience
- The EXACT information new hires need to know to succeed
- Giving the right balance of structure and freedom to new employees
- Strategies for building the key habits employees need to achieve and sustain success
If you missed it, sorry you couldn’t join us live. We had a great Q&A session afterward, but you can still view the recorded version here. You can also download the powerpoint presentation that I used during the presentation.
I spoke quite a bit about the importance of developing high-impact workplace communicators, particularly when over 50% of your new hires will be members of Generation Y by 2014. This is a topic I talk quite a bit about in my book 90 Days 90 Ways: Onboard Young Professionals to Peak Performance. In fact, I’d like to share you with a portion of Chapter 5 that covers this really well.
One of the most common deficits young professionals enter the workplace with is a lack of professional communication skills. And unfortunately, for young professionals and you, this deficit in communication is actually a combination of many deficits that run the gamut from a lack of professionalism, to not choosing the right medium for one’s audience, to a general inability to construct a well-developed, coherent argument. The reasons for these consistent communication blunders are numerous. First, there has been an increase in academic standardized testing, reducing the amount of educational time spent engaged in hands-on learning. Second, young professionals as we know spend a lot of time online and in front of a screen. And third, to be perfectly honest, the generation has placed little value on the skill or time developing professional communication skills.
You would be hard-pressed to find a study identifying anything other than communication as the number one skill employers look for in a prospective new hire. And public speaking is consistently ranked as the number one fear for people throughout the world. Yet most young professionals, unless they are communication majors, have taken just one or two communication courses in college. For me, and hopefully you, this is troubling.
Although college is supposed to prepare young people to be confident and competitive in the workforce—and to recap, employers really want good communicators, and people irrespective of age are terrified of public speaking—college students are not required and usually don’t select to take more than three to six credit hours to develop the competency. It’s easy to blame college communication programs for not hooking students into taking more courses, or for not doing enough during their one to two touches with the average college students. And given that I taught college public speaking for a number of years, I’m familiar with how most college students think about their introductory communication courses! But more importantly, I’m also aware of how just a little focused, smart work can meet young people where they are in their communication and get them where they need to be. In addition to having my college students perform their required informative and persuasive speeches, I made sure that they also learned how to successfully give a professional introduction, answer common interview questions, run an informational interview, and provide action-oriented feedback to their peers. Most of my students got As and Bs despite my being a rigorous grader. And my communication students still write me about how they are procuring jobs from informational interviews!
While every company necessitates a different kind of communicator, from my experience and research prepping young professionals to be dynamic speakers, I’ve identified a few core competencies that transcend a particular company, culture, or community…
If this sparks your interest, you can purchase a copy of my book here. And if the topic of employee engagement and growing a strong company culture is of interest to you, then follow me on Twitter @AlexiaVernon or sign up for Ascentis’ newsletter to get advance notice of my next four webinars with them in 2012.
If you want to talk to me about today’s webinar, just find me on Twitter, and use #OnBoardingFuture to tag our conversation.