Crash course in... effective induction

With all the hoo-ha at Citigroup right now, many are calling for its chief exec 'Chuck' Prince to fall on his sword. If he does go, his successor is going to have to hit the ground running to make up the bank's huge write-down following the sub-prime debacle. So he doesn't have to waste time finding out where the coffee machine is, here's the low-down on how to make inductions work, courtesy of MT's Crash Course.

by Alexander Garrett
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Don't wait. As soon as a job-offer has been accepted, send the new hire an information pack that includes the company's annual report, staff handbook, newsletters, terms of employment and a guide to their new workplace, so that when they turn up on the first day, they'll already feel some familiarity.

First impressions. Ensure that a colleague is there to meet and greet on the first day. Getting the new person to start half an hour after everyone else on their first day gives you the chance to be ready. Make sure they have a desk - turning up and finding there's nowhere to sit makes you feel unwanted.

What's covered. According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, your programme should cover basic information such as orientation in the building; where the new person fits into the organisation; health and safety information; and employment terms and conditions. But Graham Wylie, head of marketing for Reed Consulting, says it should go further. 'They should also learn how to build a network of relationships within the organisation, and about the culture and values.'

Tailor it. Some starters will need a specially tailored programme - eg, school leavers who haven't worked before, people returning to work after a long period away and those with disabilities. You can induct people singly or in groups, or in a combination.

Make it a team effort. The induction process should not be left to one person, says Margaret McMahon, a senior policy adviser at Acas. 'The line manager should certainly be involved to welcome the new person to the team and to go through their job description. A senior manager's involvement demonstrates real commitment, but HR should also be there to talk about policies on a range of issues. Above all, don't leave it to a colleague who's not interested.'

It's a two-way thing. Induction should be an ongoing process for up to three months, says Wylie. 'It should also be a dialogue. The emerging generation of job-seekers understand that there is a talent shortage and they want to be treated as peers and engaged in a real dialogue.'

Learn from the process. There are various ways your organisation can learn from the induction process and from the people you're recruiting. Give new hires a questionnaire after the first few months, or issue them with a little red book so they can write down their observations about the organisation, with the benefit of a fresh pair of eyes.

Do say: 'Great to have you on board. Here's a schedule for the briefings we've lined up today, and an outline of how your induction will progress over the next 12 weeks.'

Don't say: 'Here's your desk, there's the coffee machine, if you've got any questions, save them for the pub quiz on Friday night.'

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