Induction programmes – start as you mean to go on!

Much like all the students that will be starting school or college in September will find out, starting a new job can be daunting – there’s a lot to find out about how everything works in your new environment. A good induction programme will not only help new employees settle in, it will get them up and running quickly too.

Have a look at these phrases that sum up induction programmes:

“Professionally organised and delivered induction training is your new employee’s first proper impression of you and your organisation, so it’s also an excellent opportunity to reinforce their decision to come and work for you”.

“Proper induction training is increasingly a legal requirement. Employers have a formal duty to provide new employees with all relevant information and training relating to health and safety particularly”.

“As a manager for new employees it’s your responsibility to ensure that induction training is properly planned”.

“The key to a successful induction is not just providing information. It is primarily communicating culture, enthusiasm and vision”.

 

All very commendable. However too many businesses still believe that once the successful candidate has signed their contract, has successfully resigned and has agreed a start date, the job has been done.

Thankfully, there are the enlightened ones, who believe that once this stage has been reached, the job has only just started …

Whereas retailers tend to recruit a huge number of store staff each year, the number of senior managers or executives is significantly less. At the same time the latter group operate at a different level, which really ought to call for a different, perhaps even bespoke induction programme. In my experience, induction works best if divided into three clear stages:

 

STAGE 1 – Pre-start

1. Meet new peers – start to develop relationships.

2. Meet new direct reports – as new managers really should set the tone and start in the manner in which they mean to continue. Get a feel for current performance and team dynamics. What holds them back? What spurs them on?

3. Meet the new boss – newcomers need to start to develop relationships, gain insight into short term objectives and medium term goals. Where can they make an early impact, what hurdles might they encounter early on? Mentally start to develop a 30 and 90 day plan.

 

STAGE 2 – the first day

1. The legals: Terms & Conditions of Employment, Health & Safety, etc.

2. The expected routine: where and when to lunch, where to park, rules around sickness and holidays, etc.

3. The values and philosophy of the business – this is the time to set the foundations and expectations in terms of ethics, integrity, corporate social responsibility, etc.

 

STAGE 3 – the first month

It has been proven time and again that a new Board appointment settles in and becomes effective much faster if that person has an external business coach, who they can bounce ideas off, who can prevent the new appointee from being blindsided and who can help the new director deal with any difficult relationships with other Board members. In any case, during the first month it’s important to agree fixed review times to ensure that the new person is settling in.

a)  Are they meeting all the necessary people?
b)  Are they participating in right meetings?
c)  What are their early views on the business’ performance, opportunities and challenges?
d)  What personal objectives have been set for the first 30, 60 and 90 days? The 90 day plan in particular is an important document that really needs to be formally agreed and signed off. Most probation periods are 3 months. This will provide an opportunity to review their performance objectively.

What I have found is that by simply having an induction plan, it reminds you (or forces you) to frequently and systematically review progress. In my experience, any big issues, problems and misconceptions tend to come to the fore within the first 3 months. So long as these are effectively addressed in that same time scale, they will not affect the new starter’s perception negatively.

If, however, these issues are left to fester you may find yourself looking for a replacement rather sooner than anticipated … Beware!

 

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