Intuition, awareness, or whatever you want to call it–it’s a critical skill if you want to be a successful HR pro. I’m a fan of examples to prove my point, so let’s dive in!

Seeing the needs of new employees

Recently I was helping to onboard a new group of employees. We had won a new contract and needed to pull the new folks into the fold ASAP with no downtime or issues.

The “standard” HR practice would be to gather all of the employees in a single place, give them a speech, hand out paperwork, and wait for it to roll in. However, that’s not how I handled it.

Instead, we sat down with each individual employee. That meant the entire exercise took approximately 10 times as long; however, there were some conditions that I had examined that told me the one-on-one would be more beneficial across the board. Here’s where that intuition/awareness/whatever comes into play.

  • They were coming from a “big company” employer that didn’t treat them as individuals or as highly valuable.
  • In my one previous meeting with the group, there were a few people who felt their concerns were not addressed for one reason or another.
  • Our history had always been that of a high-touch HR function, and this was the first chance to prove it.
  • I knew that with contracts like these, the people were going to speak freely more often if it was a private conversation than if it was in a group.

In the end, that was definitely the right answer. Each person got to spend some individual quality time talking about their hopes, concerns, and other thoughts.

Developing your intuition muscle

This is one of those skills that is more difficult to develop. Some of us are just more aware of our surroundings, the considerations of others, etc. However, I believe it’s possible to learn to be more intuitive and aware of the things going on around you. Here are a few tips for making that a new focus:

  • Especially in situations like the one depicted above where there will be many “first impressions” all at once, take some time to consider what impression you’re giving. How you interact is how they will expect the rest of the company to interact as well.
  • In your day to day, think about how others will perceive and process what you have to say. Even if it doesn’t change what you say or how you say it, understanding how to predict the responses of others is critical for someone in this role.
  • Once you have started honing your intuition skills, start sharing the insights with other managers and staff. For example, when I learn about a new policy rolling out affecting specific employees, I let the manager know generally what to expect from some of the people who might not respond well to the changes. That helps them to prepare for the response as well as making them more likely to rely on that advice again in the future, especially if it prevents an employee relations headache!

What are your thoughts on this? I think intuition is a highly valued, yet relatively unknown, skill for HR pros to develop and maintain. Have you seen others value you for your intuition and insights? How did that play out? I’d love to hear your story. 

Last week I dropped in on a webinar by the Brandon Hall Group and one of the comments floored me.

40% of organizations say their onboarding process is “less than effective.” Wow. @BrandonHallGrp

— Ben Eubanks (@beneubanks) February 12, 2014

Seriously? 40%? That’s pretty incredible, considering the amount of information available out there to help with this process. In the organizations I’ve worked in, there have been three players involved in an employee’s onboarding:

  • Recruiting brings the person in during the recruiting process, then gives them to HR
  • HR helps with the basics up through day one, then hands them to their manager
  • The manager either does their own internal team welcome/kickoff/assimilation, or they don’t. It’s fairly obvious which one occurs, because the difference is obvious within only a few days on the job.

I’ve written previously on the topic of onboarding, and I feel like those suggestions alone are enough to get the processes up to snuff for many smaller organizations. Whether it’s onboarding tips for managers, the importance of intimate and personal contact, or onboarding remote employees, plenty of information exists to help HR professionals, managers, and organizations DO onboarding better.

The SHRM Foundation put out a solid guide to maximizing success during the onboarding process a few years back, and I’m sure you can find at least one or two tips (or a dozen) to increase the effectiveness of your own internal workings.

The bottom line is this: we hear the numbers like I quoted above, and we feel helpless to act, or we feel like “at least we’re not the only ones,” or we think ours is “good enough.” There’s no shortage of excuses. However, while it’s never going to be perfect, you can always be looking for ways to make it better.

Let me put it this way: if your competitor down the street is getting new hires up to speed in 4 weeks and it takes you 8 weeks to get the person to the same proficiency level, they are going to beat you. When you think about it in that context, it gives the argument considerable weight.

Better people practices lead to better company performance.

Let’s make it happen! How are you going to tweak your onboarding process to make it more effective?

While we have plenty of resources for how to onboard new hires, there isn’t much info with regard to new job orientation for remote employees. How do you handle off site employee orientation? What do you say? How do you communicate?

Today we’ll look at all that, plus I’ll share a few ideas on how to make it especially valuable for the employee. New job orientation isn’t easy, and it’s even harder when you’re off site! Here’s the message from a reader that got my brain fixed on the topic:

Just read your article about Onboarding. Some really useful stuff there but I was wondering if you have ever written about trying to onboard a new employee in a remote location where there is no team in place yet. I am currently doing this and came across your article in my desperate search for some help. — I’m located in our office and the new employee is located in the remote office which has the awesome advantage of being in a different time zone. We do have employees in the office there but nobody who will be doing anything like his specific job. This is also my first employee ever so I’m having a minor meltdown as you can imagine. There are so many things like taking them to lunch etc that I can’t do so I’m trying to figure out ways to substitute these kind of team bonding activities. We are going to be hiring a few more people in the next few weeks but I want to try and get it at least partially right with this first one so that he doesn’t run screaming from the building. Any advice would be most gratefully received.

Here’s what I had to say.

Very neat! I definitely agree that you have a challenge on your hands. I would make it a point to use video chat if you have that capability. That’s the most personal, and personable, interaction you can have with someone who’s thousands of miles away. Another neat idea might be to do a quick video tour of your local office, show them who else works for the organization, and let each person wish them a quick “welcome” message. That would take ten minutes to walk around, record, and upload/send, but it would be very valuable for creating a connection among the staff.

If you have the capability, you might also put together a short writeup on your culture, what it’s like working there, and the things your leaders believe in. I’ve attached the one I recently put together as a sample. If there are no standing meetings in place, this is a great opportunity to create one and allow each location to kick in a few ideas about what they are working on, any issues they are facing, etc. over a group conference call.

Let me know how it goes!

How to approach new job orientation for remote employees

Here’s a short video where I discuss this topic.

Additional resources

What about you? How do you handle new job orientation for remote employees?

I9 verification documents-challenges and solutions

i9 verification documentsI was wondering what suggestions you or others in the HR community have related to ensuring that new hires show up for orientation with the required forms(s) of ID for completion of the I-9. Currently, I include a copy of the back of the I-9 form when I send their employment offer letter and include instructions to the new hire that they will need to bring the appropriate form of ID with them to their orientation.

I am amazed at how many folks show up for orientation without the necessary ID. Then they want to fax a copy of their Social Security card, passport, etc. to me the next day – which in reality ends up being a week or so later, if at all. I don’t think faxed documents are acceptable but sometimes that is all I can get. Am I the only HR person who has this problem? Thank you for any advice! -L-

When I got this email from a reader, I was secretly relieved. Not because she was having problems with her I9’s, but because I realized I wasn’t the only one who had those same issues. It’s such a critical piece of the hiring process that our companies expect us to get right, but we are dependent on employees (many times at remote sites) to get us the I9 verification documents we need.

And as a side note, no, faxed copies are not supposed to be accepted, because you haven’t seen them in person to verify their authenticity. You need those originals or someone from your company to see those originals who can verify the documents in person.

So how can we combat this issue? Continue reading

I’ve been at my current organization for nearly a year now, and I really enjoy what I do. Just recently we have started an orientation process where our VPs of HR and Operations go out and meet small groups of new employees. It gives them a way to connect with the new people, and it shows our new staffers that we have them on our minds.

I wrote a post about participating in an orientation session from the new employee side of things, and I think it’s worth restating.

Take it from someone who will tell it to you straight. Do an orientation with new employees. If you want it to be more useful, wait until they\’ve been there for a few weeks (or do it in two parts). That way you can ask about problems/issues before the person begins to feel powerless, and hopefully you can rectify them in some way. It makes a big difference to people when they feel appreciated. I\’m walking proof of that.

But whatever you do, just do something. As a semi-new employee, I left the meeting with the desire to do something amazing for my organization. Wouldn\’t you want your employees to want the same thing?

I’d be interested in learning more about some of your organizations. Do you have an orientation/onboarding process? What’s involved in that procedure?