The Art of the Meet & Greet

Onboarding-Meet-and-Greet

The Meet & Greet is a beloved component of many onboarding programs.  I’m going out on a limb, however, and guess that many hiring managers love them for the wrong reasons.  Let’s ruffle some feathers:

Reasons I Think (Some) Hiring Managers Love Meet & Greets:

1. They’re pretty easy to coordinate.

2. Most of the “work” falls on someone else.

3. You can easily fill a new employee’s schedule for his first days/weeks, and the hiring manager has to spend very little time with the new employee.

4. The hiring manager can pat himself on the back thinking his new employee has been “productive” and sufficiently “onboarded”.

(Okay, ouch.  Too much?)

Friends, we need to teach hiring managers in our organizations the art of the Meet & Greet.

Meet & Greet sessions can be a value-rich addition to the new employee experience, but they can also prove to be nothing more than a revolving door of random employees babbling about complex initiatives, jargon, irrelevant titles and biased opinions.  During the first days and weeks on the job, even the sharpest new employee has very little context to understand these things.

Here are five strategies for effectively using Meet & Greet sessions when onboarding new employees:

1.  Before the new employee starts, identify key individuals that will bring value to his first days on the job.

Key individuals.  Not everyone the incumbent will eventually work with.  Consider the employee’s role, responsibilities and early projects or initiatives.  The hiring manager should look to the immediate team, other close allies and essential vendors.  These people should have an integral role in the employee’s success.

2.  Reach out directly to those individuals and prepare them for the meeting.

Sorry to break the news, but dropping a vague meeting invite on a person’s calendar does not count as “reaching out directly”.  A phone call or even an informative email would be fine.  If you do choose to go straight to a meeting invite, make sure the purpose of the meeting is clearly stated in the body of the invite!  Let’s explore this one…

Sample email/meeting invite body:

Hello Key Individual,

We will be welcoming a new addition to our team next week!  John Smith will be joining us as our new .  His first day will be Monday, January 14.  To help integrate John to our team, we are scheduling a few informal “meet & greet” sessions with key individuals within the organization.  Since you will be working directly with John on the Very Important Project, it would be great if you two could sit down for a few minutes and get acquainted, discuss your role and team, and how you will be working together.

Also, if you have any helpful advice or resources for John as he gets started with the company, I’m sure he would be appreciative!

Please let me know if this time will work for your meeting, or if you need any more information.  Thanks, Key Individual!

Warm regards,

Hiring Manager

This small effort will help the individual prepare for this meeting, and it will help drive a more effective, meaningful dialogue.  Plus, it’s just nice.  And isn’t nice, well, nice?

3.  Make sure the new employee’s schedule is well balanced with other activities.

Avoid the fire hose!  Any Meet & Greet sessions should be a component of the onboarding process, not its entirety.  Furthermore, if your new employee is rushing to and from back-to-back-to-back-to-back meetings for his entire first week, you haven’t found balance.

Remember, a balanced onboarding program should incorporate these three tenets:

  • Welcome to the company
  • Welcome to the team
  • Welcome to the job

Hiring managers, your organization’s Orientation program will probably hopefully do a decent job with introducing your new employee to the company.  Team?  Job?  These should fall a little more heavily on you.  After all, you are the one who has been involved in the selection of this new employee.  You know what his role will entail.  You know who he will be working with.  You know the systems, tools and resources that will be used regularly.

Own it, hiring managers.

Coordinate the Meet & Greet sessions.  Give him time to get settled.  Provide training when necessary. Begin discussing projects or tasks where the employee can be productive and build early credibility.  Think about those quick wins your new employee can strive toward, and involve him.

4.  Provide a detailed agenda for the new employee.

We’ve discussed a balanced agenda, figuratively.  This one is simple – give him an agenda, literally.  Create a document he can carry with him for his first week, even if these meetings are on his calendar.  Don’t underestimate the comfort of something tangible.  On the agenda, include the dates/times (obvs), meeting room locations (Does he know his way around yet?  Does he need a map?), the names of the people he will be meeting with (and their roles), and any other pertinent information.

5.  The hiring manager should make time for the new employee. Daily.

The Meet & Greet is an enhancement to your onboarding program.  It is not a replacement for you, hiring manager.  Every day, in a variety of channels, you should be reaching out to the employee. The morning greeting, a midday check-in, and an end of day debrief are three essentials to incorporate, but don’t stop there!  Here are a few easy ways to let your new employee know you’re involved and available:

  • Take your new employee to lunch at least once during his first week (please make sure someone takes him to lunch on his first day, if you are unable to do this yourself!)
  • Organize a team lunch/dinner during his first week
  • Send an IM to periodically check in (be careful not to nag or micromanage!)
  • Include him in your routine mid-afternoon walk to the vending machine
  • Meet with him for 10-15 minutes at the end of each day of his first week – review his day, answer any questions, follow up as needed
  • Make an effort to get acquainted with your employee as a human being, not just as an employee!
  • Walk the new employee around the building and informally introduce him to department leaders
  • Make sure he has the supplies he needs; arrange for items that must be ordered
  • Discuss his job description – ensure that expectations are clear and everyone is on the same page!

There you have it.  Whether you are an HR professional, a Learning & Development practitioner or a hiring manager, you can play a role in facilitating meaningful dialogue between new employees and their tenured counterparts.  Those who own the onboarding process have the responsibility of enabling hiring managers to effectively embrace and immerse a new employee into the team and job.  Hiring managers should take ownership of knowing what the new employee needs and doing something about it, so your incumbent will find success.  We’re all responsible…and in our ways and roles, we’re all accountable.

Your turn:  Are Meet & Greet sessions a part of your onboarding program?  How do you utilize these meetings?  Has it been successful in your organization?  Please share your thoughts!
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