Top tips for an effective induction

by Anthony Sork on June 14, 2011

It’s easy for us to preach about the importance of induction to an employee’s level of attachment. However the challenges of managing that induction in a way that works for the employee, the business and the HR team can be confronting. There’s value in talking about shared challenges, then giving information that provides tips in the context of that challenge.

We’re beginning a series of interviews with HR practitioners at the coal face, to find out what they have found that works well in induction, and why.

Meet Trish O’Neill.  Currently HR Manager at Hettich, one of the world’s largest producers of cabinet hardware and fittings, Trish oversees all things people: learning and development; building leadership capability; recruitment and selection; organisational development as well as policy, employee relations and OH&S. Trish is a highly experienced HR practitioner who has worked across diverse industries including: energy, stevedoring, financial services, not for profit, hospitality and wine.

“I’ve found the most positive feedback we receive from new employees is when senior managers have come into the induction and given an overview of their area, their line of business or department” says Trish. “They do not need to be the most polished speakers. However they do tend to have impact as most speak about their area with passion.”

So why does this work from an attachment point of view? Critical drivers to employee attachment include effective orientation, the central messages an employee receives, the visibility of senior leadership and the personal vision and career path the new employee perceives. With senior people in induction, in a practical sense it means that the new employee:

- has seen connection with what they do and where that fits with the rest of the organisation
- has understood that real career paths exist, if the presenter has moved up or around the organisation
- will know whom they may speak to if they need to make contact with a particular area
- will feel welcome and important, that senior people have actually made the effort to take time out of a busy schedule to welcome them
- better understand the mission, vision and values of an organisation

Trish also says that she has found induction more challenging in large organizations, where sheer complexity make it difficult to cover the organization in a meaningful way for a new employee to be able to relate what they hear back to how they contribute. She also acknowledges it is more difficult for a HR Manager to have influence as the business managers often view managing the recruitment as the domain of HR. Beyond that however, they see the new hire as “belonging to the business.”

When the business has snapped up a new hire and said “thank God they’re here” Trish has these tips for HR Managers who work with a business focused on getting the most out of the new hire straight away.

Some pre-planning for communication works well says Trish, particularly if there has been a very long lead time in taking someone on. Also if you are bringing on large numbers, factor in induction time and make it before the official start date “When a person starts in the business it is hard to actually pull up and say – we need them back to do a proper induction” says Trish. “In operational environments such as hospitality there needs to be an immediate induction as you will not get them back again.”

Trish suggests to communicate the importance of orientation and the cost of not inducting properly in a way the business understands. Do not however, assume that the business managers all relate to the same message. Showing people the dollar impact of losing a new hire may work well in industries who understand the language of numbers. Bankers and financers may understand the return on investment point. For example: if you want to justify some extra spend in training on someone’s induction, you could say: “is it worthwhile letting go $70K worth of investment for the sake of spending $10K?” Other people within the business respond to the feel good factor or empathy, so you could say: “when you started your last role, how did you feel?”

Trish also suggests that one of the biggest mistakes anyone can make, when they look at the way people respond to the stresses of starting a new role, is to make assumptions about the meaning of particular behaviour. “Do not assume people will respond like you do given a specific situation.”

Here at Team Attachment we know that in any situation where people are beginning a role, the immediate manager has the greatest influence on attachment perceptions of their new employees. Ensuring managers have a common understanding and a common message which is in line with the organisation is critical to achieving high levels of attachment. We can’t stress this enough. You will never know what is truly important to your employee’s attachment unless you measure it objectively.

We’re keen to hear your thoughts on what you can do to improve the induction process. Please feel free to comment below.

Written by Anthony Sork


I am the creator of the Employment Attachment Inventory (EAI). The world first, internationally patented business instrument used by leading organisations to reduce attrition and increase performance of new employees. Subscribe to the blog and receive a complimentary EAI.


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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Declan Monahan April 16, 2012 at 1:10 am

Thanks for the article, its great to see recognition for the importance of not making assumptions about a persons behaviour based on how ‘you’ would behave.
In my experience induction is the best time to lay the right foundation to support the future success of your new hire and ultimately their impact on your business…it’s a real case of actions speaking louder than words. If you’re wise enough to make that investment upfront it’s vital to invest time not just in operational awareness but also people awareness. Help new hires understand ‘the way’ the other people around them like to work (not just what they do) and you’ll give your new recruits an excellent head start over those who have to figure it out through trial and error.
There are many excellent behavioural assessment tools out there which can help all members of a team understand each other better and when applied to new recruits serve a dual purpose. A) They help the new recruit understand how to most effectively interact with each individual they are about to start working with but also B) help the established team understand their new colleagues behavioural style and how best they can adapt and connect with them to settle them in and work effectively with them going forward. Insights Discovery is a solution which uses a simple four colour model to provide a framework and vocabulary which helps teams navigate those challenging personality based discussions and provide everyone with an understanding of not only ‘who we are the way we are’ but how to make the most out of our individual gifts and differences!

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Mariah June 10, 2012 at 8:26 am

Some companies do not raelise how valuable their employees are. Improve your employees and you will see an increas in quality and productivity which means more profits, somethign that all bosses like to see!

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joe September 24, 2012 at 8:58 pm

Thanks for the article
I noticed a few questions the interviewer asks e.g.
How can you add value to the company? How to handle that question?

Reply

Karalyn Brown September 24, 2012 at 10:39 pm

Hi Joe, you need to understand what the company does, what the role is about, and what you bring to that company, then you can relate your experience specifically to that role.

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