Create a sense of belonging and rest will be history...
Let’s go back to that day where you were invited to a friend’s house for the first time, they provided you with the right time that suited you both, directions to make sure the journey was as easy as possible and details of where to park. You were greeted in the nicest of ways, you were set at ease immediately. You followed your host through to a large open plan kitchen, although large it was decorated well, you felt comfortable, warm, your host offers you a drink and as they make you a drink they tell you to make yourself feel at home and you do. Your drink, along with a host of nibbles are put in front of you and it makes the conversation flow, you’re at ease.
In the workplace we need to keep the same ‘host’ mentality, to make your new starters feel like they have just made the best decision of their life. Greet them, don’t leave them waiting, talk to them, properly engage with them and put them at ease. With them at ease they will freely ask the questions they may have held back had they felt like they had just been thrown into an environment where there was no time to talk. In the current climate the virtual welcome needs even more focus. If you have taken the effort to recruit this person then take the effort to onboard with effort.
If you have been in the your workplace for some time it is easy to take for granted the experience of joining a new business, of walking into a new building on your first day, accessing zoom where you know no-one, whilst being stripped of everything you have ever known. You may have been at mastery stage in your old company, you knew everyone and everyone knew you and now you may have changed sector, it may be a completely different job – whatever the reason for that role change, you have stepped well and truly out of your comfort zone. There will be those who thrive on moments like these, hungry for every morsel of information, using their sheer curiosity to seek out all the information they need, ego gone, they capitalise on being the new person, knowing that no question is a daft one. Then there are those who maybe more introspective, they sit quietly absorbing everything they hear, saying less but reflecting and observing and those who have a desire to learn but make not be placed at ease enough to ask what they need to. Whichever their style you as a leader have a role to play. You need to provide them with an experience that allows them to embrace their first day and to leave feeling eager to return tomorrow.
Litmus test this, ask your new starters what they would have liked more of. How have they in this climate learnt the business, the function for which they are part of and most importantly how in this remote world did they find the the heart of the business, its root. To be truly connected does the new starter understand where the business has come from and does it know where it’s headed?
Can they explain what their role is? The role of the function they have joined and then how what they do connects to the overall purpose of the organisation. With a vision and a breakdown of how their roles fits into it and the contributing factors then expectation is indisputably set.
Have you empowered them from the minute they have joined to enjoy the experience, enjoy the learning process? Businesses need employees who crave to learn, who need freedom to think, is that how you have set this up your new starter, so that they leave each day feeling like they have joined an organisation that will allow them to grow? Or, and playing devil’s advocate here, have they been thrown in, this is how it’s been always been done, so just crack on. The new employee not knowing what is expected of them as they don’t know the full role. They are learning snippets as they are going along, trying to piece together the fragments of a role that once was. Dealing with their peers and team who also are dealing with the impact of that role being stagnant and picking the work up themselves for zero gratitude. Honeymoon, what honeymoon, the cracks are already there, they may have already been there, that emotional disconnect, but then as we see with so many people, the overwhelming desire to rectify and make this work. And with all good intent and purpose the effort is spilled into every interaction but try as they might the culture isn’t what they expected and slowly the reality hits.
Talent, people who want to do the right thing, who want to work with purpose will re-evaluate their choices. So, this is where I ask that you review the impact of your induction. If you were a new starter today, in your own business, did it work for you? Mark it out of ten, was it a worthy 10? Or do you need to look at each of the components and make some alterations?
Let’s break the induction down into four components:
Social (The heart) – Does your induction provide the welcome that introduces the new starter to all the right people, it provides a network where possible with technical access to social communities. Do people take the time to meet and really welcome the new starter to the business? Do the team’s upsell the business in an authentic way? Does the new starter leave on day one feeling connected?
Knowledge & Skills (Mind) – Is the induction broken down and aligned to the job description. Have you provided all the educational components that will set the new starter up to succeed? Not only do they understand their roles and responsibilities they know how to fulfil them.
Business Context (Joining the dots) – Does your induction allow the dots to be joined? Have you called out the role impact onto the other teams, do they know how their role, how their team impacts the vision, the mission, the strategy? Can they piece the jigsaw together? And does the picture of the organisation show the culture the Golden thread running through it?
Expectations (Two way) - Do they know what is expected from them? Behaviorally? Targets? Deliverables? And do they know what to expect from you? Have you built a relationship? The quicker this is achieved the easier it is for both you as the manager and the employee.
It isn’t complicated but effective inductions seem to still not be fulfilled. I spent time in one organisation where a thought-out induction unraveled when no one had the time to attend any of the prearranged induction meetings. My assumption was that everyone was too busy. It later unfolded that this was the culture of the organisation. People didn’t attend meetings, or if they did it was sporadic, there was no apology, no follow through and there was a lack of accountability. It seeped into every project – that didn’t land, every ‘lessons learnt’ – that didn’t take place and into the decisions that were not being made. It was a red flag and one you shouldn’t ignore. So, imagine you’re a new starter for one second, and your walking through the door, virtual or not for your first day. Does your induction give you the social, the educational, the broader business positioning and do you clearly understand what is expected of you? If it doesn’t then this is your opportunity to make some improvements.