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Monday, July 17, 2017

Monkey Business Orientation

The big office supply stores have already begun the major promotion of back-to-school supplies. I love watching the dirt-cheap competition for pencils, note cards, and such. Some stuff you can find for pennies. My daughter is on the lookout on behalf of our grandkids.

A higher level of back-to-school shopping takes place at Target, Bed & Bath & Beyond, and similar stores. This is to equip the soon-to-be college student with everything they need to start life away from home. If Mom is doing the shopping, it truly will be an attempt to provide EVERYTHING the student might need. But moms do that. This mainly happens for the freshmen level student.

The real challenge comes when that freshman college student arrives on campus. I recall taking our firstborn to the Rochester Institute of Technology for his first year. We were included in some basic freshman orientation activities. We got to see his dorm, various buildings, checked the bookstore, and met some of the people who would help shape our son’s perspective on the future. Scary. Especially the tech-oriented upperclassmen.

It became noticeably clear, however, that as this orientation time wore on, our son was “ready” for us to leave. His new solo life was about to begin and he didn’t need mom and dad “hanging out.” Like many parents, I’m sure we left wondering how our son would manage on his own in a world very different from home. He did fine.

These days, the Internet can do an amazing job of pre-orientation. You can take complete digital tours of college campuses and interact with future team members. You can establish your entire social media world and begin relationships with people of similar interests. It goes on and on.

Many companies have become more serious about workplace orientation. For a new hire, there is always trepidation about entering a new work environment. Getting familiar is a process. Companies do well to help make this a welcoming and easy progression to the real job.

One company which takes this very serious is MailChimp. (Of course, any company with that name you wonder about how serious they can be!) I read about their new hire practice in Fast Company in the article, “Why Mail Chimp Doesn’t Let New Hires Work for Their First Week on the Job.”

As noted, most new hires are eager to get to their real work. Hiring processes can be long and tedious. But MailChimp lets no employee get to that work until they’re given a behavioral assessment and a “Chimpanion.” Of course.

The article lists out a full week of scheduling for the new employee beginning with Day One, which they refer to as "Welcome Wagon." Bags of swag and personalized notes await the new arrival. In the first week they will also take the Birkman Assessment to help teams best determine occupational and communication styles. Later, it’s discussion on Customers, Cofounders, and Coffee.

It’s really quite a powerful approach to helping someone recognize, “You really are on a team. Ours.” (My words, not theirs.) It seems to work. The turnover rate at MailChimp is about 4%. Remarkably low.

In the first years of the rapidly growing band of Jesus followers, they were a remarkably welcoming group as well. They shared. They cared. I doubt they “flared”...much. That young fellowship grew incredibly fast. Read those first few chapters in the book of Acts. It’s remarkable. And apparently, there was very little turnover.

When it comes to healthy orientation, take a lesson from the early church. And also from the people at MailChimp.

Obviously, they don’t monkey around.

That’s The Way WE Work. Click on the link to the right to connect via Facebook.

Let’s Talk with Mark Elfstrand can be heard weekdays from 4-6 PM Central. To listen outside the Chicago area, tune to for live streaming or podcasts, or download the AM1160 app.

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