Sticky Notes: Turn Orientation into Boot Camp

No matter how long and intense (or short and mundane) your orientation process is, you cannot ever leave new employees alone to sink or swim. The longer you sustain intensity and support from day one, the more value you will get out of your new employees.

New employees almost always walk in the door with a spark of excitement. The question is: Do you pour water on that spark or do you pour gasoline?

To ignite the spark, focus on them from the moment they walk in the door. Remember: Day one is the most important day, and month one is the most important month.

The U.S. Marine Corps, for example, has a well-known onboarding program: boot camp. For 13 weeks, recruits undergo intensive training, acquiring the skills and sense of shared mission they need to do a superior job. The U.S. Marine Corps does not pay much, and the job is hard and dangerous. Yet they are able to build 40,000 new Marines every year with a washout rate that is so low it can hardly be measured. Learn a lesson from them.

When shaping your orientation process, think about how you can emulate the boot camp approach. You do not need obstacle courses and firing ranges. What matters is replicating the intensity, the connection to mission, the feeling of shared experiences and belonging to a group, the steady learning, and the constant challenge. It means taking new employees seriously on day one and every other day after that.

No matter how long and intense (or short and mundane) your orientation process is, you cannot ever leave new employees alone to sink or swim. The longer you sustain intensity and support from day one, the more value you will get out of your new employees.

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