Developing staff capacity is an ongoing activity that supports employees’ professional goals as well as furthers the organization’s mission. It is important to start off right with new employees in order to successfully orient, train, and retain qualified coalition staff. Hiring a new team member means exciting opportunities for the employee as well as new dynamics for the organization. This management tip provides some ideas for successfully orienting and training new coalition staff.
Getting a new staff person off to the right start involves more than just personnel paperwork, showing them the restroom, quick introductions, and wishing them well! Of course, you want to make sure new hires feel comfortable, understand their job, and work effectively as soon as possible. New hires that are overwhelmed, bored, or left on their own to sink or swim will often be confused, unproductive, and even possibly leave the organization. A well-planned orientation will help new staff get up to speed faster and lower turnover rates.
New hire orientations usually include job requirements and expectations, technical skills, organizational history and values, and colleague introductions. In addition, consider adding coalition specific information, like:
Technical assistance for coalition staff
- Resource Sharing Project
- National Sexual Violence Resource Center
- Sisters of Color Ending Sexual Assault
- National Network to End Domestic Violence
- Western States Center Racial Equity Tools/Dismantling Racism
- dismantlingRacismWORKS resources
- No Room For Racism resources
- Women of Color Network mentor project
- Colors NW Magazine Understanding Oppression, Skill Sets for Targets, and Skill Sets for Agents
Anti-Violence Against Women Movement
- Feminist Theory and its Validity to Anti-Sexual Assault Work
- Including Race in Feminist Theory
- History of the Rape Crisis Movement
Knowing why to plan an effective new employee orientation will help you identify how. Consider these questions:
- What does the new employee need to know in order to feel comfortable and confident?
- What impression do you want employees to have on their first day?
- How can new employees be introduced to co-workers without feeling overwhelmed?
- What special things can you provide to make the new employee feel welcome?
- How can you ensure that the new employees supervisor is available on the first day?
Ask recent hires for feedback and make changes based on those recommendations. Once you have your list of items to cover, put them in a timeline according to pre-start date, first day, first week, and first month. Here are some ideas for implementing the orientation:
- Make sure the new employees work area is ready.
- Make sure co-workers know the employee is starting and encourage them to say hello.
- Assign a liaison to show the new person around.
- Cover all the essentials paperwork, technology, reading but intersperse them with other activities.
- Start with the basics. Dont overwhelm the new employee! Focus on the why, when, where, and how of the position before assigning any projects.
- Give the new employee an orientation checklist to follow so they know what to expect and when. This will help reduce any anxiety about the unknowns. It may also be a good idea to have them initial the training received and to keep a copy in their personnel file.
- Plan for all available staff to join the new employee for lunch.
- Keep it fun! Consider incorporating get-to-know-you activities into group meetings for a while.
- Give the new hire some responsibility for her/his own orientation such as self-directed learning.
- Identify other staff that can answer questions in addition to the new hires supervisor.
An effective orientation will make a big difference in how quickly and to what extent a new employee becomes productive and feels like part of the team. In addition to new hires, we want all staff to feel valued and excited to come to work!
All employees need a training plan in order to develop their skills and capacities. For new employees, especially those new to the workforce or who have been absent from the workforce for some time, identifying current skill levels and training needs is important for individual and organizational success. Start by looking at the new employee’s knowledge, skills, strengths, and interests, and then identify enhancements in order to meet the needs of the position and organization. Don’t overlook the basics such as organization, communication, problem-solving, and interpersonal skills. Consider the following skills for assessment and development:
Organization: managing email, using to-do lists, prioritization, time management
Communication: writing, composing email, active listening
Problem Solving: brainstorming, appreciative inquiry, problem-solving
Interpersonal: emotional intelligence, conflict resolution, positive thinking
This is a great chance for a new hire to take responsibility for some self-directed learning! Here are some ideas for supporting a new employee with training goals and plans:
- Remember that approaching new hires about skill enhancement requires sensitivity and empathy.
- Seek a variety of training options and learning styles. Trainings can be external, internal, and self-study.
- Consider mentoring pairing new hires with experienced team members and colleagues outside the organization. Make sure that mentors have adequate skills and time!
- Use different team members based on their expertise to help train new employees. This also provides existing staff with the opportunity to strengthen their training development and implementation skills.
- Review the new hires progress regularly. Assess whether the training plan is relevant, effective, and if new skills are being integrated into her/his work.
- Identify leadership potential and encourage leadership development. Organizations need leaders at all levels who are visionary, motivated, and dedicated to the mission!
Everyone has untapped passion and potential. Are you bringing out the best in people? Setting up new employees for success means having a plan, listening, channeling exciting new energy, and helping them develop and enhance their capacities.
Gilbert, Michael C. (2007). Three resolutions for capacity building. Nonprofit Online News.
MindTools.com. Off to the right start: Teaching basic skills to new hires.
MindToolscom. Successful induction: getting new team members off to a great start!