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BUILDING FIRM FOUNDATIONS

By Clare Jupp

“There’s your computer, there’s your desk. The toilets are downstairs and we take an hour for lunch.” A typical first day in a new job? Hopefully not.

But just how good is induction in most organisations and what kind of start can new employees expect? Are they bombarded with information, ‘bumph’ and friendly introductions and smiles on day 1 and then left to get on with it? Or is there a full programme of support and induction in place to ensure a smooth and productive introduction to the organisation?

I’m a firm believer of starting as you mean to go on and therefore I see the induction programme as a crucial aspect of People Development: the foundation blocks. Your induction arrangements are a firm indication of how your organisation regards its people and they are a reflection of your organisation’s intentions and philosophy about training and development: the induction programme reflects how seriously (or not) your business is about developing individuals to perform at their optimum. I believe the induction programme is the ‘shop window’ of the rest of the People Development Programme. If it looks good, then your new recruits can expect to be developed and motivated. If it’s at best pretty mediocre, you may well earn a decent enough salary, but job satisfaction and career development might be lacking. If it’s non-existent, then I would suspect that you are in an organisation where people are clearly undervalued and regarded as utterly dispensable and replaceable.

I believe that Induction is crucial to securing good performance, for assimilating new team members into the business and for establishing the tone and ‘ground rules’ of the organisation. You have a captive audience with your new starters: they’re listening and are ready to be ‘moulded’ to the company ethos. You tell them how people think, feel and behave in the workplace and you can share the ethos of the organisation, reinforcing its ideals and values. This is a crucial opportunity to get them into the shared mind-set.

At Brightstar, we regard the induction of new team members as a shared responsibility and as a key opportunity for professional development for all, not just the new starter. We firmly believe and embrace the notion that we are all ‘teachers and learners’. Helping others contributes to one’s own growth and is a feature of an outstanding ‘Brightstar’. Remember the old saying ‘When one person teaches, two people learn’.

In my opinion there is a definite correlation between the quality of induction and the speed of ‘up skilling’, competence and performance. By ‘saturating’ the inductee with support and training, competence and independence are achieved quicker. The intense investment of time and effort, in my opinion, gives quicker, better results and is well worth the commitment.

But what should induction comprise? I would suggest a full introductory and orientation for at least day 1, followed by a 6 month programme with monthly coaching sessions and personal target setting. There is also a need for a clear finishing point: for us this is the End of Induction Review with Divisional Director and me. Running alongside this I feel that’s it’s useful to have an evidence-based record of achievement and competence scheme in place. We use an ‘Induction Competences’ booklet and a Professional Development Portfolio to achieve this. Finally, it’s useful for new starters to have a/some specific staff member(s) they can go to and who will support them through the induction journey. This could take the form of a ‘buddy’ or ‘mentor’ or in the case of Brightstar, there might be ‘Learning Champions’ in place. These staff members will support, mentor and nurture whilst also ‘modelling’ the required standards of competence and proficiency.

In summary, a positive induction experience is crucial in instilling confidence in your new recruit and confidence, of course, breeds competence. With the right skills and knowledge, your inductee has far to go, but if they’re ill-prepared for the journey, then they’ll be doing little more than treading water and doing a pretty average job…