Coming up with creative ways to get employees to interact with each other during orientation is likely the most difficult part of training. There are only so many tricks a facilitators can pull from a hat. However, an effective trick is to stimulate conversation, engagement and personal interaction. Encouraging full participation is the key element to a successful icebreaker. Urge all employees to open up and even the most reluctant or shy employees will appreciate the push to learn more about each other and themselves.
Although introductions might be an ordinary and terribly uninteresting ice-breaker for new employee orientation, adding a twist can make the simple round-robin fashion introductions something new employees will enjoy. Have each employee give her name, department and the most ridiculous job she's ever held. An icebreaker like this is particularly good for seasoned professionals whose first jobs or jobs they held during their youth were the opposite of what they had in mind for a career.
This icebreaker helps employees get to know each other instead of the facilitator getting to know everyone. Ask employees to select a partner who's not sitting next to him. This encourages people to get out of their seats long enough to find someone who looks interesting. Give employees only 30 seconds to find a partner. Instruct them to spend an additional 60 seconds getting to know the other person and then return to their original seats. One by one, ask each person to introduce the other person.
Facilitators post sheets from a flip chart on the wall and ask employees to tell what they expect to learn during orientation. No two answers can be alike and everybody must give just one expected outcome. It forces employees to be creative, particularly when the average responses are gone with the first few outcomes the facilitator or trainer writes on the flip chart sheets. At the end of the orientation, the facilitator reviews the outcomes to ensure the learning objectives correspond with employees' expected outcomes from their initial training.
Depending on the audience and their imagination, ask each employee to come up with the most outlandish introduction they can dream up as a fake introduction. The facilitator should start the introductions. They can be based on fantasy or a lifelong dream. For example, the facilitator introduces herself as, "I'm the world record holder for the tallest house of cards built with one hand behind my back and one eye covered with a patch on a floating bed." This is sure to bring some laughs and will certainly break the ice.
Ruth Mayhew has been writing since the mid-1980s, and she has been an HR subject matter expert since 1995. Her work appears in "The Multi-Generational Workforce in the Health Care Industry," and she has been cited in numerous publications, including journals and textbooks that focus on human resources management practices. She holds a Master of Arts in sociology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. In addition, she is a certified facilitator for the Center for Creative Leadership Benchmarks 360 Assessment Suite, and is a Logical Operations Modern Classroom Certified Trainer . Ruth resides in North Carolina and works from her office in the nation's capital, Washington, D.C.