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Staff Induction – A Point of View

The Management Pocketbooks Pocket Correspondence Course

This is part of an extended management course. You can dip into it, or follow the course from the start. If you do that, you may want a course notebook, for the exercises and any notes you want to make.


Let me be frank: I hate the term ‘induction’. At best it sounds like something from my undergraduate electromagnetic field theory lectures: at worst, it sounds like an obstetric procedure. So why do we use it to refer to the process of welcoming a new staff member or volunteer to our organisation, and giving them the preparation they need, so they can fit in, feel at home, and contribute as soon as possible?

How you welcome people into your organisation and into their team can have a big impact on their performance. Use the process to set expectations, but do it gently. Far better to demonstrate the behaviours and attitudes you expect, and involve real role models, with top performance, in welcoming new staff, than to inflict a heavy handed set of cosy chats and dreary PowerPoint presentations.

Trickier still is the task of bringing in new joiners are new to the world of work, because they are school leavers, graduates, long-term unemployed, or returners. What can you do to smooth their transition to productive contribution and fitting in?

In preparing for their arrival and during their first months, here are three things you can do:

  1. Welcome them
    Shortly before arrival, write to them to welcome them and, when they arrive, have someone to welcome them and show them around. An “induction programme” sounds scary – a welcome programme is far more… welcoming.
  2. Give them a buddy
    Ask an established colleague to act as their buddy to show them the ropes and answer questions. Allow time for them to meet their buddy frequently in the first few weeks.
  3. Ensure they have the skills they need
    Sit down with them and identify what skills they need, to do their job well. Where their experience has left gaps, plan a response, combining on-the-job and off-line training, coaching and mentoring, regular feedback, and formal learning.

My preference for creating a really good welcome is to pair each new joiner with a recent joiner. To give them some time to go out for a good coffee, where they can discuss the most valuable programme of learning about the joiner’s new role. What they need to see, who they need to meet, and what they need to learn. Empower the transition buddy to arrange whatever is necessary, from enrolling the joiner on a training course, to letting them work-shadow people in other parts of the business, to meeting the CEO. This kind of tailored experience gives real responsibility to the new joiner to get started effectively, and will give the recent joiner a new set of insights into the organisation.

Further Reading 

If you want to take less of a risk and make sure you cover all of the bases, try the terribly named but well-written Induction Pocketbook.

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