The good news is that you've just hired a terrific person for that open position. The bad news is that, unless you set up that new employee for success, he or she may not realize his/her potential.

To get the most out of your new hire, you need to develop an effective orientation process. Although orientation shouldn't just be a one-day meeting, it usually begins with a kick-off session. Unfortunately, in many companies, that session has been around so long that it's become dusty and moldy.

That's why every year you should take a close look at your orientation session and look for ways to refresh the experience. Here are 5 ways to ban boring meetings and breathe new energy into orientation programs:

  1. Set focused objectives. Is the emphasis on company knowledge? Engaging new employees in the culture (which can be defined as how we work together)? Understanding how their job fits in to the strategy? Decide on a few focus areas, and handle other activities a different way.
  2. Don't treat the orientation program as a catchall for everything a new employee needs to know or do. The new employee has to fill out forms, for example, but that's an activity that can be handled another time--even before the first day of work.
  3. Give new employees a chance to interact with each other. If you want to bust silos and give people a chance to get to know one another, you might schedule a couple of orientation programs a year and bring together employees from different geographies. If it's more important to get employees up to speed quickly, you may hold more frequent orientation programs in different locations. In either case, make sure you include "getting to know you" time in your agenda.
  4. Think about the advantages/disadvantages of "going virtual." After all, with today's online learning and web/videoconferencing meetings, you don't have to have a physical orientation program. So you may choose to make all or part of your orientation program a virtual experience.
  5. Bust open the traditional boring agenda. If new employees have to sit still in their seats all day, listening to people lecture and watching PowerPoint, they're not going to be jazzed up about your organization. You've made a big investment in hiring these new employees and bringing them together. An orientation session shouldn't be a passive activity; it should be a motivating, participative experience.