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19August2015

Critically Align Your Induction Program

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  • Ever worked with someone who just got chucked in the deep end at work?
  • Do you get frustrated for these people when you have to work with them and they don’t know what they need to know?
  • Does your workplace have an induction program, but it rarely gets completed because it’s only partially done?
  • What about the employees that start off great and then when the probation period is over, trouble hits?

The answer to these questions, and possibly many more, can be found during an induction program of any organisation.

Once selection and appointment of someone to a position within your organisation is done, it is pretty obvious that you will need to introduce them to your business or organisation, their role and the people they will work with. This is commonly known as an induction.

If you’ve ever been through an induction, you may very well have experienced a sense of overwhelming of information, yet it was useful in meeting people and understanding where your role fits in the organisation. You may also have felt totally under prepared for what might lay ahead.

When done well, an induction will have the new person feel supported, welcomed and wanted and not just on the first day. It should be well organised and not rushed, allowing time for the absorption of information in an environment that encourages the new employee to ask questions and to know who they can ask.

When not done well, the induction is rushed, disorganised, falls short in providing adequate information for the new person to get on with their role and can leave them with a sense of sink or swim. There is often revisits of the induction information, and at worst, the new person is not successful in their role, which can lead to having to go through the recruitment process again. Very often, blame is laid at the feet of the new person, but in reality the organisation has let this person down right from the start by not taking the induction phase as an important, almost critical, part of the persons future success and in turn the organisation’s success.

Inductions are not only for new people joining the organisation. They are also useful for existing employees who are changing roles or returning to work after a long absence (such as illness, parental or long service leave).

So induction is not something that is ad hoc or is done ad lib in the moment. An induction program is essential for well-coordinated learning of important information about your organisation so employees are supported to know and understand their responsibilities and your expectations of them so they can then take appropriate action as per their role. It is also crucial that your induction program covers essential legislative information, such as work health and safety information as well as internal policies and procedures.

Yet an induction is so much more than that. What would it be like to have an induction program that is very clear and systematic in introducing the person to the culture of your organisation, to the thinking behind why things get done the way they get done rather than an induction that paints a rosy picture, but in reality it is very different? What would it be like to have consistency and congruence in the values, standards and expectations of your organisation? And delivered in such a way that there could be little room for misunderstanding? It is possible, all of it, with the Critical Alignment Model (CAM)[1]

Critically aligning your induction program with the roles and responsibilities of every position is a must. CAM provides a systematic approach to introducing people to their position with the first area of focus, Environment, which is about your business/organisation, its values, mission and culture. It then focuses on what Structures are in place and how the position fits into the business targets, goals and aligns with other departments, followed by what the position actually does. This is the Implementation focus. Finally, it looks at People; who they will be reporting to, working alongside, who will be reporting to them and the leadership standards required.

CAM is the dream child of Sharon Pearson from the Coaching Institute and her Meta Dynamics™ program. Using CAM turns complex inductions into a simple format for any organisation to implement at any level within. And who wouldn’t want that ☺

So let’s get started

Stage 1 – Introducing the ENVIRONMENT

This stage is about introducing to person to the organisation and why it is important to invest in the induction. In CAM, the Environment expresses and provides the language of the vision, mission, values, standards and expectations of an organisation (and it is so much more). This language brings the organisation to life and are not just words in a business plan. Successful organisations will be very sure on the purpose of the induction, because it is essential for the organisation to continue its success towards its vision and living its mission.

The test of consistent congruence of the Environment in your organisation starts now. The recruitment process is often the employee’s first meeting with an organisation and its Environment and the induction is the second, which means you now have the opportunity to develop a relationship based on the Environment. Any successful relationship is based on trust. Any new employee is reliant on the induction to find their way in the new position therefore trusting the organisation will look after them and support them in their learning.

Where the workplace Environment has consistent congruence, the culture is effective in ensuring the standards and expectations are lived by everyone. These are the non-negotiables in attitude and intent. The results of which show up in behaviour which makes sense to have an induction program to get the ball rolling. People want to ‘fit in’ as quickly as possible when starting a new position and being clear on standards and expectations sets them up for success in their actions, interactions, communications and conversations with others in the workplace.

Stage 2 – STRUCTURE your Induction

As you may already appreciate, a well-prepared and comprehensive induction program helps people quickly understand the responsibilities of their new role and expectations within the role as well as the organisation as a whole. In CAM, Structure is about the categories, sections or departments, plans (for example) and the benchmarks of these that support the Environment as mentioned in Stage 1.

An induction plan should include a checklist of all the elements in the induction, the time frames they need to be completed in and a plan for reviewing the employee’s progress. The plan will also include any online component and where this fits within the program.

To keep things simple, let’s break down the induction program to three key areas:

  • Pre induction
  • The induction
  • Post induction

Pre Induction

It’s important to communicate changes, such as a new person starting or an existing one changing roles, to other employees. Existing employees can support a new person throughout the induction process (e.g. by being examples of the values, standards and expectations, explaining key duties, helping set up their workspace and being available to answer questions).

Inductions will vary depending on whether the person is new, they are an existing employee switching roles or returning from a long absence. Yet having a team of people, which may include an induction buddy set up prior to the induction, will help the new person settle in and feel part of the team much quicker.

It is also important to be organised as to who is assisting with what sections of the induction and when prior to the induction. This aids a smooth transition of information and the people involved in the induction to prepare and have time to plan their work, allowing time for the induction.

The Induction

New employees will need a more comprehensive induction than existing ones. Not only do they need support in understanding the Environment of your organisation, they also need to understand the organisation’s structure, policies and procedures as well as any legislative requirements (e.g. Work health and Safety) that they need to follow.

Their first day is particularly important. You will want to make them feel welcome and enthusiastic about their new position, so creating a checklist is a useful tool. The checklist may include the following:

  • Introduce them to the:
    • Vision
    • Mission
    • Values
    • Standards
    • Expectations
    • Business Plan
    • Code of conduct
  • Provide them with general information, such as annual reports, marketing materials, organisational charts, phone lists etc.
  • Introduce them to their colleagues, managers and supervisors
  • Take them on a tour of your premises, don’t forget to show them:
    • toilets
    • fire escapes
    • break rooms
    • their work area.
  • Go through essential records and paper work, including their:
    • Employment contract
    • Position description
    • Superannuation account
    • Bank account
    • Tax file number
    • Emergency contacts.
  • Explain employment conditions and policies, including:
    • work hours and breaks times
    • pay details, including when they can expect to be paid
    • leave entitlements
    • probation periods
  • Provide any necessary work health and safety information, including:
    • fire and evacuation instructions
    • details about any training you’ve planned for them.
  • Explain their duties and have some work for them to do
  • Provide necessary equipment, uniforms, email addresses and computer access details
  • Ask if they have any questions.

After their first day, employees, depending on their position, will need further information such as specific details about processes, tasks and equipment related to their role. Some may need training as part of their induction, such as specific equipment or processes. Where specific work health and safety training obligations are required, these will also need to be included in the induction.

Existing employees who are changing roles may need to be taken through an induction to understand their new duties, processes and work health and safety information particularly where it is different either in design or level within the organisation. If additional training is required, this will also need to be factored into the induction process.

Any employee returning to work after a long absence, such as from illness, parental or long service leave or after injury, may need a refresher induction to explain any new or updated processes and equipment.

Post Induction

This is where many organisations drop the ball. Once a person has been through an induction, quite often everyone gets caught up in the busyness of the workplace and forget to or don’t have time to check in with the new person to see how they are doing; hence why it is crucial to schedule post induction catch ups or meetings throughout the probationary period.

These meetings should include feedback from colleagues, managers, supervisors and clients/customers. The feedback must be relevant to their contribution to the Environment, interactions and relationships with other departments or divisions and the people within and how well they are performing the tasks and activities relevant to their position.

Stage 3 – IMPLEMENTATION means Action

Inductions are often unsuccessful because they are rushed or are reflective of an ineffective culture. They often lack the required structure to ensure the three key areas are covered. While it is important to get a person up and running in their position as soon as possible, it is often far more cost effective to conduct the induction thoroughly rather than pay for expensive errors or another recruitment because an induction was rushed.

How the induction is conducted is what this stage, Implementation, is all about. The induction needs to include any training (e.g. for specific tasks, processes, equipment and work health and safety) and must cater to the needs of various people. For example, mature-aged workers, graduates, school leavers and apprentices will have different needs for induction. Their learning processes will also vary. Considering these different needs will help you get the most out of your induction program. So the conversations, presentations and training is done as per the induction plan and checklist. Where appropriate, adjustments are made to suit individual learning styles and other considerations ensuring the induction program does not breach any anti-discrimination or equal opportunity laws.

At the completion of each stage of the induction plan, assess progress, review the plan and make any appropriate adjustments for future actions against timeframes and relevant targets.

Stage 4 – PEOPLE are Learners and Teachers

Mentoring or a buddy system is a useful tool for inductions. The buddy system is a great way for new employees to feel they belong in their team and has the added bonus of having an informal on-the-job training component. A buddy system is where the new employee is paired with an experienced one. The experienced employee can share with them how the values, standards and expectations work in action, explain duties and responsibilities and how these fit into the whole organisation.

The People stage is also about consistent congruence with checking in with the new person, providing feedback on progress as well as their strengths and areas for improvement. It is an ideal opportunity for the organisation to get feedback from a fresh pair of eyes and ears in the workplace.

These interactions and conversations play an important role in continuously improving the induction process, the position, the interactions between departments, effectiveness of policies and procedures and, very importantly, the effectiveness of the environment and its impact on the workplace culture.

Now that your new employee is fully inducted into your organisation and has successfully moved off probation, you are ready to critically align your performance management process ☺

For further information of the CAM Induction Strategy and how it can help your business, please contact Diane Gray, dgray@gotagameplan.com.au.

[1] Critical Alignment Model is part of Meta Dynamics™ methodology

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