How to tailor induction programmes for new staff

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Written by Paul Matthews on 13 April 2016

In my last blog, I looked at the effect of a typical induction programme on a new starter and set a challenge…

“How can you change your induction programme, so that the early stages cater more to the needs of the new starter than to the needs of the organisation?”

Every situation is going to be different. And I mean that. Not every organisation, but every new hire. You need to customise your induction to suit the individual, unless they are peas from the same pod and will be doing the same job.

So build a diary for each new starter that covers the first 20 working days at least.

At each stage…

  1. How should they be feeling in relation to the job (how will they report home)?
  2. What do they need to know at a minimum about their job, colleagues, organisation?
  3. What do they need to be able to do in terms of their job, perhaps with supervision?
  4. What things need to happen, like signing paperwork, at what stage?

Here’s a hint. They don’t need to know everything today, and that is an impossible goal anyway :-)

You no doubt have a job description and an anticipated task list to feed into this ‘diary’, and some knowledge of their previous experience. A proportion of it will be much the same for most new hires, so it is not as big a job as you think. It takes only a few minutes, yet can pay huge dividends.

In effect, you are planning their growth into their new role with your organisation, but with the new starter as a person in mind. They are not just a number. Your organisation is not just a number to them, so return the compliment!

Put yourself in the new starter’s shoes. Empathise, knowing what you know about them as a person. If you were them, what would you expect? What would you want?

The biggest factor for most new starters as they join an organisation is their line manager. All line managers are different, and the way they behave towards their new starter will be different. In effect, the line manager is customising their induction experience whether they are doing that purposefully or not.

So the easiest way to customise an induction experience for a new starter is to enlist their line manager in the process. Before the person starts, share and discuss the 20 day ‘diary’ with the manager and their role in delivering it.

Now you need to consider what help and information the line manager needs to be effective during this induction process?

As they step with their new starter through the 20 day ‘diary’, they are both on a journey. They both need signposts and directions. This is where technology can come to the rescue, particularly if you need to scale this process up for larger numbers of people, and yet still keep the induction personal and customised.

We have had some interesting results doing this kind of thing with our clients.

My key message is that you empathise with the new starter. Start your induction thinking from their shoes, not yours.

About the author

Paul Matthews is the founder of People Alchemy and expert in workplace learning, especially informal learning, as well as management development and employee performance improvement