On November 18th we hosted a webinar with our very own Jan Wilson, M.Ed., SPHR, SHRM-SCP, that tackled ways for organizations to reinvigorate orientation programs. The webinar, Putting Turnover on Notice: Reinvigorating Your Orientation Programs, sparked a lot of great questions from our audience.

Since many of you asked, we decided to share those questions – and Jan’s answers – with all of you. Here we’ll highlight just a few of them, but you can read the entire Q&A with Jan (and other resources) by getting our Putting Turnover on Notice kit available now!


Q. I am a brand-new training manager. There are lots of materials here, but people have expressed dissatisfaction with them. How do I get started? How can I do it better? How can I engage SMEs and guide them?

First, look at the expression of dissatisfaction as a gift! Scratch on that by interviewing all the constituents of the training— managers, customers, even the learners themselves. Probe for specific reasons that they seem unprepared after training, so you can address them. Then once that is all digested, really analyze your training model based on what you found. Begin with what you need the learners to do, and then work backward to identify what they need to know to bring performance up to your team’s standard.

Do you have problems in content, delivery, time, application after the fact? Or some of all? Then circle back to your interviewees with findings and suggested new approaches. Ask them to agree to a change plan. It’s vital everyone is included or your change plan or your change plan may fail. Consensus will be key. Then begin the task of changing your training model incrementally. Too much change is hard to track, whether it is successful or not. I suggest targeting one or two areas of training that are costing you the most in dissatisfaction and target those to begin with. Then add more as you go.

As for SMEs, if you build consensus in the discovery phase, you will have made the relationships that will enable you to assist them become better teachers (if they are teaching for you).  Practice sessions that are free failure zones help too. If you have a SME that just isn’t a great teacher, host learning sessions where they can practice good teaching behaviors, if they are game, with their peer faculty. Be creative and make it fun. Data can be your friend as well. As part of your change plan, you might want to institute evaluations from students/learners on teaching efficacy that you can use to help your faculty realize there is a better way.


Q. What about the concept of steps-learning, or building on info from basic to more complex? (Whether skills or concepts). This can also include the volume or amount of work—starting small and building to larger assignments etc. Any comments?

I believe in this principle with a caveat. I do go from macro to micro so they get the big picture (including context and why it matters). Then I usually teach the smaller steps to get there. On the simple to more complex front, I do usually teach the simple and go to the complex in a multi-step scenario. Learners need to feel a sense of mastery, so try to build that solid before you go to more complex interactions or you will lose them (and they won’t always tell you that).


Q. How do you get people to understand the difference between onboarding and orientation? I liked what you said about orientation being about what they need to DO vs what they need to KNOW. What’s the best way to expand on that?

Onboarding is usually defined as getting new people into the organization efficiently and thoroughly. Think background checks, new equipment, business cards, with a hand off to training for orientation. Both should be anchored in company culture so the new hire sees the organization as unified. Remember, they are making a huge leap of faith when they join you, and they are looking for any reason to either validate that decision or negate it depending on how they are treated. So onboarding and orientation should be talking with one another on how to increase job embeddedness.

As far as thinking about what they need to do, rather than know, you just start. Once you begin that train of thought, it will snowball. But like I said earlier, pick your most egregious areas to begin change. You can’t tackle (or measure) everything at once.

To read the entire Q&A with Jan, get the full kit, or watch the webinar again, please visit our Putting Turnover on Notice page!


Want to learn more from Jan? Check out her author page