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The Myths about Induction

June 3, 2010 Comments off

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 ?

Categories: Induction Tags: ,

The Importance of Induction

May 11, 2010 1 comment

Induction and what it should involve, is a much debated topic. There are enough articles available on how induction should happen, how long it should be and what all it should cover. I too had written earlier posts on welcoming employees

I have always felt that induction is not, cannot and should not be a stand alone process lasting a few days. What most organisations do in the name of induction is more of a quick download of what they do, who the people at the top are and what is expected of the new recruits. The vision is shown but not communicated.

Whenever my clients ask my to advice on the Induction process, I ask them to list down what they want to achieve from the exercise. The most common responses are cultural understanding, seamless welcome, communication of broad organisational goals, a buy in from the new employee and setting a stage for long term association. Many of the clients say that they want to create excitement and energy so that the employee feels that he made a great choice by joining.  Most ( especially sales organisations) are skeptical as to how many of the new employees will survive the first quarter. Some of them do an induction program only if they have a batch of employees joining and skip it if it is just one or two. a very large number of organisations do it centrally , which means many of the new recruits at other locations have just their team leader to induct them. As we can see, there are issues here.

Next, i ask them to list out their strategy to ensure that understanding, communication, energy etc will continue . That’s where we get into further trouble. Many organisations do not have a plan to continue this induction process and to ensure that the energy and the good feeling ( of having made the right choice) stays. A few days after induction, a common feeling across many joiners is – this is no different from other organisations.

Organisations spend time & money in recruiting resources. The number of man-days used and the technological resources applied can be more effectively employed if the same is coupled with a well-thought Induction program. For this to happen the primary need is to break away from induction, the way it is done and embrace a radically different approach. There is a need to look at induction as the beginning of an employee life cycle and has to continue all through the life-cycle in various forms & intensities.

It would not be wrong to say that induction is an ongoing process and if done well impacts the duration of stay of employees, the clarity that they have about their role, the productivity that they can achieve, the performance they can deliver and the passion with which they work & grow with the organisation. I would even go further and say that induction,employee retention, Training programs & performance management are very closely linked and intertwined.

In the forthcoming post, we will look at Innovative & Inclusive methods to make induction a productive exercise, which can even save costs in the long run.

Welcome Aboard

March 2, 2010 1 comment

How do you feel when you join a new company ?

Unless you are one of those who change jobs the way one changes the innerwear, getting associated and separated from an organisation is an emotional matter. It is like leaving a neighbourhood and getting inducted into another. unknown people, new surroundings, a different culture and way of working. Imagine, being left alone to find ones way in this new maze.

Do you go and introduce yourselves to everyone in sight ? or wait for people to come to know about you as and when they interact ? How does it feel when the dispatch boy comes and asks your neighbour ” do we have anyone named M in our office?”.

Emotional, did i say ? This is not an exaggerated scenario. Even some of the most people friendly organisations spend little time in ushering in a new employee, forget about the less friendly ones. In the name of induction, one has to go through a 3-4 day crash session where everything – ranging from org chart, products, policies, processes, key people , so on and so forth is downloaded and then… If one were to administer a surprise quiz at the end of induction, most of the new joinees would flunk even the most basic questions about the organisation.

Where is the effort to make the employee feel welcome and more importantly, wanted ? If we can have freshers’ party in colleges, why cant we have a fun filled induction in organisations ? From my experience and interactions with senior managers and HR people, induction is nothing but a formality. In their words, a platform to communicate the organisations vision and to showcase the top brass ( who never even talk to the lesser mortals once the induction is over).

In my recent interactions with some of the team managers in a “sales oriented” organisation, it was shocking to note that none the managers could talk anything about the families or background of their team members. That their relationships are absolutely “official” was obvious and this reflected in the performance of the teams. I was told that the attrition levels in the team was very high and that most people left in first 2-3 months. Bad welcome ?

There have been many studies which say that most people leave because of bad bosses. While that may be true, i would say many people leave even before they come to know that the boss is bad. Any organisation cannot succeed in long run if it fails to welcome its people. and not just ones, but continues to do it all through, even during the process of separation ( more about it later).

How can an employee be inducted and welcomed in an organisation that he feels charged up right from the first moment ?

First posted in my Personal Blog in August 2008

Categories: Induction, Retention Tags: ,

Ten Ways to Welcome New Employees

February 10, 2010 Comments off

It’s easy to overlook new employees. Project deadlines, meetings and other responsibilities often become more important than checking in with the new hire. But welcoming new employees is important for several reasons. Not only will recruits better understand their new workplace, they will feel more comfortable and confident if their peers and supervisors make an effort to welcome them. Follow these 10 tips to ensure that your new employees feel at home in your organization.

Welcome them upon arrival. Don’t leave your new employees in the waiting room on their first day. A supervisor or co-worker should be available to greet the new hire as soon as he or she arrives. First impressions can often determine the tone of relationships, so make sure that you’re attentive and friendly.

Introduce them to others at the company. Though all of the new names might be a little overwhelming, try to introduce new employees to members of their team and other important people in the company. Also, send an email that announces new workers’ arrivals and describes some of their past experience so that veteran employees are aware of their skills and background.

Have their workstation ready. Arriving at the office to a fully functional computer, phone system and work area is definitely meaningful to new employees. Have an IT representative walk them through passwords and other technology setup procedures. If your company employs an ergonomic specialist, have that person stop by to make sure that the desk, chair and keyboard are properly configured. Be sure that news employees are comfortable, and address any concerns that they might have about the new space.

Assign work buddies. Work buddies can help recruits comfortably transition to their new professional environment. The buddy should work in the same field and be able to answer questions, explain policies and offer encouragement for the first month of a new hire’s employment.

Take them to lunch. A welcome lunch with team members and supervisors is a fun way to greet new employees. Be sure to ask new hires about diet preferences and food allergies — for instance if they are vegetarians or allergic to seafood — before making restaurant reservations.

Give them a tour of the building. New employees should be comfortable navigating the workplace. Make sure that they are familiar with important locations in the building, including bathrooms, the kitchen, and additional entrances and exits.

Explain your expectations. Review new employees’ job description and explain any additional responsibilities so that they understand your expectations. Describe the professional hierarchy within the new employee’s team — for example, who they report to and who reports to them. Finally, go over day-to-day work operations in order to help new hires prepare for the first few weeks.

Give them something to do. It’s hard to jump right in when you’re new, but it’s even worse feeling as though you aren’t needed. Make sure that new employees have a training manual to read and small, simple tasks to complete during their first few days. They will feel valued and useful but not overwhelmed.

Get the paperwork in order. Notify HR of any new hires before they arrive. Be sure that your new employees understand all of the benefits, payroll and other forms and know to whom they should direct questions.

 Check in at the end of the day. Stop by your new employees’ workspaces at the end of each of their first few days to find out how things are going. Make sure to answer any questions, and express your pleasure at having the new hires join the company.

With these tips, you can help new employees adjust to your company. Not only will new hires will be grateful for your attention and effort, but your business will benefit from more confident and productive workers.

Source: www.hrworld.com/features by Lea Hartog on April 10, 2008.

Categories: Induction Tags: ,
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