Presenting to New Employees: Communicating Culture and Welcoming Success

nametageI had a job in the past where I was asked to attend the company’s training program for new employees and provide any helpful feedback not only to the trainers, but the additional presenters who came in to welcome new employees. During the guest presenter portion of the training program, there was one particular woman, a high-level manager at the company, who delivered an exciting, motivating presentation. She was terrific. In the eyes of the trainees, I could see neon flash bulbs screaming, “We’re here to help people, and we can get promoted in the process!”

So imagine my surprise when the next manager who presented led with a top ten list of stupid mistakes made by benefit administrators, the very role these new employees were fearlessly undertaking! I think the air left the room for a moment even though these poor new employees tried to mask their stress level with nervous laugh. How would this woman be surprised when these new employees were intimidated by her, not wanting to approach her with their “stupid” questions when they got to the floor? She didn’t realize she was her own worst enemy. Her approach was actually creating the perpetual cycle of “stupid mistakes.”

Unfortunately, no one in the training department even knew this was happening. When the guest presenters arrived, the trainers stepped out and took some much-needed time to do the rest of their work. I think they also wanted to give the presenters “the floor” and the professional courtesy to not look over their shoulders. But in this case, the presenter needed some guidance.

Instead of taking this presenter’s preferred passive-aggressive approach, I didn’t walk up to her after the presentation to ask, “What on earth was that?” I addressed it with my manager and the other trainers, and together, we decided to offer some verbal guidance and a job aid to help guest presenters understand what we expected and how it would help create great team members. We wanted presenters to focus on welcoming new employees, encouraging them to ask questions, and creating a collaborative culture. Fortunately, the way we presented these presentation tips to the presenters went over well. They understood that more comfortable and knowledgeable employees would lead to more satisfied customers. These tips and guidelines could be useful not only for classroom training, but for conference presentations, mentoring sessions, and one-on-one coaching.

Here’s the text from the presentation guideline form.

Guidelines for Guest Presenters
It can be difficult to know what to say to a group of new employees, especially when they work outside of your department and area of expertise. However, as a guest presenter, you have the opportunity and responsibility to welcome our new associates and give them the information they need to do their jobs correctly.

Overall Goals for Presenters
Make each new associate feel welcomed and encouraged.
– Create a positive, comfortable learning environment.
– Describe your department and its value.
– Tell associates what you want them to do in situations that relate to your department. Focus on what the trainees should do (instead of what would seem like “stupid mistakes”). Be as specific as possible, including real-world scenarios when you can.

If you have presentation materials or would like help creating them, please let us know.

Examples of Helpful Reference Materials
PowerPoint presentation with printed copies for the trainees to take notes
– Organizational/flow chart
– Cheat sheets for what the employee should do in certain scenarios (we know not all scenarios can be thought of ahead of time – just provide as useful of a reference as you can)

When you provide handouts, consider what you want the trainees to do with them. If you want them to take notes throughout the presentation, hand them out at the beginning of the presentation and encourage them to jot things down. If you only want them to reference the handout for five minutes at the end of the presentation, wait to hand it out until then (otherwise, you’ll hear them rustling through the papers and they’ll be reading ahead instead of paying attention to what you’re currently discussing).

Sample Layout for Cheat Sheet/Quick Reference Sheet

If a customer asks for… DO transfer the call to (your department) DO NOT transfer the call to (your department)

Thanks for reading!

– Jill

2 thoughts on “Presenting to New Employees: Communicating Culture and Welcoming Success

  1. Great post, Jill. Of all the different companies I’ve worked for over the years, only ONE had a formal program to welcome new employees. Most seem to think “on the job training” is sufficient, but the learning curve is so much steeper when you are busy trying to learn names and the location of the restroom along with your new job! If even some of your guidelines had been incorporated, my confidence and comfort level would have been much greater as a newbie.

    • Thanks for your comments, Candace. A lot of organizations don’t realize that creating a better atmosphere and providing more guidance upfront reduces errors and turnover. Employees have to be proactive and willing to learn on their own, but there’s no reason why they can’t also be set up for success by their managers and teammates.

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