The long term effectiveness of new staff is often determined in the first month of employment. Effective induction – or onboarding as it’s sometimes known – is extremely important. Do it well and you’ve laid the foundation for employee success. Do it poorly… the consequences and costs may haunt you for months.
1. Misunderstanding The Purpose
The purpose of induction is beyond question. It’s to bring the new employee to total on job competence as quickly as possible. That’s what the employee wants. You also want a fully competent employee to begin to obtain return on your investment. Putting on job competence first develops self esteem as well as respect from colleagues.
2. Confusing “Orientation” and “Induction”
Orientation of new employees usually refers to familiarizing them with corporate history and culture, hierarchy, products and services, and roles of other staff. Orientation’s important. But induction – developing on job competence – comes first. Apart from anything else, it’s a dreadful waste to have a new employee reading or listening and watching stuff about corporate history and culture when they could be contributing to business effectiveness. Competence first; history and culture second.
3. Absence Of An Induction Plan
An induction plan describes
- The competencies the new employee must develop
- A timetable for development
- A training plan for each competency
- How each competency will be measured: performance standards
- The names of the “trainers” responsible for developing competencies
- A training plan so that all involved know what’s expected
- A formal process to review and test skill development at set periods depending on the complexity of the skills involved.
4. “Sit With Nelly” Training
This is the sort of induction that substitutes watching, listening and reading for real skill development and competence. We’ve all suffered from the “Work with Jack for a few days”, “Read the manual and write down your questions”, “Just watch us as we go about our work” or “You’ll get the hag of it” type of induction. This sort of thing shows the new employee that you really don’t care whether they contribute or not. And it makes them feel like interrupters rather than contributors. That’s hardly a good start for either of you.
5. Absence Of A Nominated Buddy
Every new employee wants “someone to talk to” as they settle in to the new job; a “buddy”. The buddy ensures that the new employee achieves the skills necessary. And he or she should help sort out any difficulties that the new employee’s having. It’s a serious responsibility.
6. Lack Of Formal Probation
Sometimes a new employee simply doesn’t “work out”. This can occur no matter how thorough and professional your selection process has been. And sometimes new employees realize that their new job isn’t what they expected. A formal probation period, usually 90 days, allows either party to “withdraw gracefully without penalty”. Ensure however, that your induction plan is in place to ensure either of you can make an objective decision.
7. Losing Patience
Your new employee seems to be “doing well”. She’s showing great initiative, has developed good skills and is already well respected by colleagues. The induction plan has only 3 weeks to run. You decide to terminate the induction and extend her responsibilities. Stop!! The only worthwhile measure of successful induction is demonstrated on job competence as defined in the induction plan. Make sure that this contract is satisfied in full by both parties before extending responsibility.
Day to day business pressures can interfere with professional and thorough induction. See induction as an investment in the future of your business. Done well, the dividends will be worth the effort. And remember: the new employees will themselves be responsible for new staff induction in the future.