An Interview with Alan Cabelly #SHRM18




Considering there were more than 2,000 sessions at #SHRM18, the struggle was REAL in making difficult decisions about which sessions to see and those we had to miss. In case you missed it at SHRM18, Alan Cabelly, Ph.D, SHRM-SCP, took to the Smart Stage to explore the similarities and differences between generations, and how each of us can work through these differences to create a culture celebrating diverse thoughts, approaches and ideas. SHRM’s Smart Stage sessions provide Ted Talk style dialogue compressed into 18-minute bursts – an excellent option for conference attendees aiming to seek information across a diverse range of topics. Prof. Cabelly brings a wealth of expertise from educating early career professionals. We were thrilled to have Prof. Cabelly share his insight on bridging the generational gap to create a cohesive, collaborative workforce across the board.

Why is effective onboarding and orientation more meaningful now than in years past?

Rapid onboarding is taking on a new priority as demographic shifts gather steam. As Boomers exit organizations, there will not be a 1-to-1 replacement ratio because the generation behind them (Gen X) is half the size of the Boomer generation. That means organizations will need to find ways to fast track Millennials into positions of leadership and convince them to stay with organizations. That starts with effective onboarding, and most employers do a terrible job of it.

For organizations whose staff is already stretched thin to complete training on the day-to-day work for new hires, is it possible to still implement a successful onboarding and orientation plan?

Onboarding is more than training. It is the structured and consistent process of integrating new employees into your organization, preparing them to succeed at their job, and to become fully engaged, productive members of the company. That means that the primary responsibility for onboarding rests with the line managers, not HR. They are the ones that have the most influence over a new hire's experience and they are the ones that have the most to lose if a new hire disengages and leaves the company. So yes, it is possible to implement a successful program if your HR team is stretched thin, and it requires real partnership with the operational leaders of your business.

Is having no onboarding or orientation plan better than working under a poorly executed strategy?

Every organization has an onboarding process whether it is managed or not. Employees get hired and experience something. When people are in unfamiliar territory, they are more alert for any clues that will help them navigate the terrain. Because new hires are more vigilant for clues in this impressionable state, they are likely to notice even the most minor examples of a poorly designed and executed onboarding process. They are more likely to see these as indicative of a poorly run organization that doesn’t care about its employees. They are more likely to make meaning out of anything and everything their new employer does or does not do. If new employees have a bad experience during the first 90 days, they will disengage and leave.

What is the best first step to take for a professional in an organization without an existing orientation or onboarding plan?

Build the business case with your stakeholders to implement a structured onboarding process. For example, bad onboarding leads to attrition, attrition, low productivity, reduced engagement, loss of respect for management and a degradation of the company and employer brand.

Do you have any recommendations for first time attendees to SHRM’s annual conference?

There has been a seismic shift in the way executives think about people, culture and workplace practices. They have come to understand that exceptional “People” leadership and systems are levers of operational and financial excellence. As a result, there is growing recognition that the background, skills and competencies of HR leaders are vital components to the success of the business as a whole.  My advice is to attend sessions that expand your strategic skillset so that you are well positioned professionally for the future.

During SHRM18, Prof. Cabelly was awarded the SHRM Advisor of the Year in recognition of his significant dedication and leadership provided to his local student chapter. Prof. Cabelly is the founder and Executive Director of the Portland Leadership Institute – click here to learn more about his approach to leadership excellence in our ever-changing modern workplace.

It’s never too early to start planning for SHRM19! This year’s conference broke records with more than 20,000 HR professionals from around the world convening in Chicago. Will you join us for SHRM19 in Las Vegas? Don’t gamble on your opportunity to register early and snag a convenient housing option while you’re at it – click here to register for SHRM19!



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