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5 Kinds of Stories to Tell During Onboarding

by Feb 22, 2012, 5:36 am ET

From http://www.history.noaa.gov/stories_tales/surprise.html You can be proud to work here.

That is one of THE most important messages your new employee orientation program should communicate.

This is so crucial because people of the caliber you want to attract and retain place a high value in working for an employer of whom they can feel proud.

So, make sure you communicate to your new employees — both explicitly and implicitly – that they can be proud to work at your organization.

You communicate the message “You can be proud to work here” implicitly by conducting a well-designed, well-organized, effective onboarding program. They see by the way you deliver the onboarding experience that your organization does things right. Conducting a high quality onboarding program engenders both pride — “I’m part of a great organization” –and respect for management — “They know what they’re doing here.”

You communicate the message “You can be proud to work here” explicitly by sharing stories that demonstrate why your organization is worthy of pride.

“Pride Story” Themes You Can Draw From

These include stories with the following themes:

  1. What makes your product or service great.
  2. How your product or service has made a difference in the lives or businesses of your customers.
  3. The good things your organization does in your local community, or for the world community.
  4. Examples of employees performing at elite levels, such as providing over-the-top customer service that blows your customers away.
  5. How your organization is run with integrity, respect for its people, and competence.

A Story About Integrity

I recently heard a great example of a story demonstrating the last theme on the above list from the Director of Claims at a property and casualty insurance company. While her story was part of an interview I did prior to a leadership retreat, it is a perfect example of the kind of story you want your leaders to share with your new hires during orientation.

You also want to put brief video clips of such stories such as this on your recruiting website.

When I asked this director, Barbara, what she liked about working at the insurance company, one of the things she mentioned was their high level of integrity:

“It’s not one of those companies that does things you feel uncomfortable about. I can sleep well at night working here.”

She went on to give an example. Whenever an official hurricane warning or watch is announced, the company reimburses their marine clients for the cost of removing their boats from the water. It’s in both their customers and the insurance company’s best interest that customers don’t gamble with this, whether it’s worth the cost to pull their boats out of the water versus risk the potential damage caused by a hurricane. Thus, the insurance company reimburses them to do that, if it’s an official hurricane warning or watch.

During last fall’s Hurricane Irene, the storm gradually faded as it reached New England, losing its status as an official hurricane. However, given the vagaries of weather, it could have easily ramped back up to hurricane status when it reached Maine.

The leadership team found themselves facing a decision that would affect both their customers and themselves.

“Technically we didn’t have to pay for boat owners to pull out their boats, because Irene was downgraded. But … what was the right thing to do? If we waited until it reached Maine to decide, they never would have gotten their boats out on time. We talked about what was the right thing to do. We decided it was to fund it. That’s one of the things about this company that I love, the high integrity.”

As she told this story, her expression and voice tone beamed with pride.

This is a perfect example of the type of story you want to collect, catalog, and share at your new employee orientation programs. You also want to use these on your recruiting website, at job fairs, and in your interviews. Not only does it communicate “You can be proud to work here,” but it also communicates your organization’s core values, an important role of your employee orientation program.

Sharing stories that inspire pride as part of your new employee orientation program not only will make your program more inspiring, it will also help “seal the deal” in your new employees’ minds that they made the right choice. So start collecting and using stories that communicate “You can be proud to work here.”

So How Can You Put This Into Action?

  1. Collect stories from employees at all levels, about Moments of Truth that illustrate why they are proud to work in your organization.
  2. Collect and catalog these stories in a database. Note what message they communicate, what value they personify, and use these as searchable keywords in your database. That way, you can easily locate what stories communicate the specific message you want to communicate.
  3. Start including these stories in your new employee orientation program, but don’t stop there. Include them also on your recruiting site, have your recruiters share them at job fairs, and include them in your hiring interviews.

This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to offer specific legal advice. You should consult your legal counsel regarding any threatened or pending litigation.

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  • Ken Schmitt

    Fantastic article! It’s easy to “like” or “tolerate” a job because it pays the people or your boss is nice. But to be proud of where you work and who you work with and for? That’s a rare. If companies aim to be a place of pride, everything will follow suit to achieve that mission. When creating my own company, I knew there were 10 Core Values that I wanted to strive to achieve daily- with each interaction, placement and job I am asked to fill. By setting this goal I was forced to revisit my Core Values often and hold myself and my team accountable. I am proud to say that all of us what say my firm is something they are proud to be a part of. We may not love our jobs every day, but we are proud of what we do and the company we are building. This has helped us grow our team and business.
    Ken C. Schmitt
    http://www.turningpointsearch.net