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The Myths about Induction

June 3, 2010

Following up my earlier note about the importance of Induction, here are some commonly accepted notions about Induction. First step towards a genuine induction program would be to throw these mis-conceptions out of the window.

Myth #1 –  It is the job of the HR Department

HR is a critical support function in any organisation. From hiring to exit, HR plays an important role.  Often employees, especially at the junior & middle level, are closer to HR than their own peers/superiors.  In spite of all this, It is not the job of HR only, to welcome & induct the new employees.  Every existing employee who meets the new joiner is in effect providing an orientation or view of the organisation. In that Sense, The most effective Induction happens when a cross section of people- from across levels & departments ( including HR) – meet the new employees.  Most organisation combine Induction program with form filling or joining formalities completion, which makes it look like a predominantly HR role. These are distinct activities and need to be kept separate. Remember, HR is a facilitator and not the owner of this process.

Myth #2. It can only be carried out for a group of people

Is a proper induction, privilege of those who join together as a large group ? or those who are posted at central /regional locations? Do you do a full Induction program for a sales team member who joins 6 months into the year ? The answer is No, No & Yes.

An Induction program has to be flexible & yet consistent so that it can be delivered at an Individual as well as a group level. Every employee who joins needs a proper orientation & direction as Induction is one of the first step towards retention.

What this means simply is that certain parts of the program can be delivered online or through multi-media and the balance taken care by the immediate supervisors. This also means the Induction needs to be institutionalized and the seriousness should trickle down to every employee.

Myth #3. It is a classroom exercise

The classroom is only the first meeting point. Induction goes on beyond the training class room and actually is most effective when carried out as a process at the work place. There are certain things that need to be delivered in class room settings like the Management Introduction or a presentation on the corporate values and legacy etc. This  however needs to be followed up with a “real work life ” induction where a new employee gets to know his peers & colleagues, understands his job & gets going. What majority of people refer to, as Induction, typically begins & ends in the classroom.

Myth #4.It is a limited period crash course

The induction is NOT a crash course to download all information about the company-from history to management to vision to products & processes in a limited period. One of the clients I worked with had a 6 day classroom program wherein every functional head spent 3-4 hours talking about his or her department. It was literally a crash course covering every aspect of the company. As expected, the new employees used to lose interest after the second day and the 6 day session ended up being  just a formality. If the purpose was to inform the employees and bring them up to date, the result was not achieved as many of the employees did not even remember the names of some of the functional heads.

The ideal way to achieve the desired objective could be to divide the classroom sessions into common & specific ones and mix them up to keep the groups dynamic & to retain the interest. For one of the clients in the education sector, we worked out a  combination of common and specific focused sessions with actual workplace durations interspersed. The whole process carried on for about a month and the effect was amazing. The new guys were more aware and highly charged up. They had relevant questions to ask and even contributed in designing the whole process for future employees.   The final process that evolved was more like an ongoing induction with learning & sharing sessions and practical case discussions.

Myth #6.It does not need top management and can be delegated

This is the biggest mistake which organisations  do. Not showcasing your Top Management to the new folks is like keeping the star batsman in the dressing room. No one can convey the pride & the passion the way a successful CEO or Business owner can. The grand vision can  never be effectively articulated by the guys down the line. The presence of the senior people is demonstration of  a sense of commitment & focus, a message that they care about every single employee.

Myth #7. It is the time when you make the new employees feel good before the grind starts

One senior manager in a session that I attended, kept on telling the sales guys that they should be ready for the real fun once the induction is over. He told them that the induction was a honeymoon period and they better start thinking about their targets. I wondered if the intention was to instill fear ? And it came as no surprise that the organisation had close to 45% attrition ratio. Almost 80% of these people left in first 3 months. The company justified this by saying that they were filtering out non-performers before it was late. But predictably, the attrition soon started to hit the performers segment too as the company was creating a bad market image for itself.

I don’t mean to say that this was all due to the Induction process. However, I am certain that Induction had a role to play.

Induction is a process of welcome, which should lead to an employee falling in love with his new employer and his job. How do we break  this down into tangible & achievable Induction Goals ?

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