While conducting interviews, irrespective of whether the interviewee is fresh out of the university or a professional with years of experience behind, I have realised how almost impossible it is to gauge the person in entirety. A few good responses from the interview may land him into the organisation, while a single goof up can deny that possibility. And this result is regardless of how many repeated interviews take place. It is still limited time, to assess. In fact cold interviews, where there is no experience of having seen actually the quality of work or the standard of persona of the candidate hiring is essentially a shot in the dark.
During the interview process, whenever I have prompted the interviewee with remark, ‘do you have any question?’ The response is largely silence, confusion and mostly ‘No’. Possibly this relates to culture too. Locally the unenlightened may consider a question from a candidate as the start of challenge to authority.
So once hired, the entrant walks into the organisation with hope, excitement, and a truck load of perceptions, both good and bad about the company and its people constituents.
The first day at school, college, university are important milestones in life…so is the first day at the first job or the first day in a new work environment; there are expectations. A new entrant expects to be welcomed warmly with an all embracing attitude. Welcome and a warm and enthusiastic one is the best cheer in life.
No management should underestimate the power of love and affection at the work place. The ability to induce this as a facet of organisation’s embedded value can do wonders and an inability will work disastrously. Care and compassion are elixirs for highest levels of dedicated performance. A manager ought to know that the understanding of colleagues is the art of understanding human nature.
In the ‘Resurrection’, Leo Tolstoy, wrote, ‘men think there are circumstances when they may treat their fellow beings without love, but no such circumstances exist.
Inanimate objects may be dealt without love…but human beings cannot be treated without love… if you feel no love for men- leave them alone.’ He goes on to say, ‘deal with anything but men if you can’t exhibit love’.
On day one, the most intangible of motivators, ie morale is either built or aborted. With a fresh outlook to things all new entrants see more than any other employee who may have been in the organisation for long.
Normally, all entrants end up on day one at the doors of the imposing human resources division. The test begins now for both the organisation and the inductee. The process of discovery begins. Depending on requirements peculiar to each institution, the inductee is given a plethora of forms to fill and complete. A hardened HR person would do most to frighten with the dos and don’ts. All of this can be achieved with grace, only if the HR unit is equipped with an empathetic quality resource. To the contrary conditions, never be surprised, if the tell-tale sign on the face of inductee is ‘I have made a misjudgement.’ And trust me, this epitaph is readable by any ordinary manager, doesn’t require demanding skills.
A proper induction process must include a formal and warm welcome at the reception by a nominated person of HR division. He should then be ushered into the office of the division head, who must be gracious to offer coffee and indulge in a bit (not much!) of small talk to create peace in the inductee’s mind. Thereafter, the inductee can be led to those who will help in the completion of joining formalities. Post this step; a well prepared, ‘induction pack’ should be given for the candidate to familiarise with the company’s objectives, values, vision, mission, business lines, financials etc. Towards this objective, some forward looking institutions like the bank, I work for, has this done over a two day period at the plush surroundings of the Learning and Development Centre. Some short films about the organisation are shown too.
The next step is to introduce the new entrant to people. Depending upon the seniority, this can be done by either the head of HR or the deputy head. Though this exercise of going from table to table will result only in a ‘handshake’, it is worthwhile. The only solid purpose to this regimen is that it allows all to know, who has joined the ranks. Expect nobody to remember names at the first introduction.
A lack of formal induction process or even a faulty one will impact productivity. Such environment delays the settling down process and hence no responsibility is either assigned or assumed. The individual when left on his own to find his bearings is likely to become rudderless and directionless. This can actually induce negative impact on existing productivity standards of the organisation.
Some organisations, pack off the inductee to an on-the-job rotation programme. Personally, I dislike this methodology. It doesn’t possess the need for guidance that may be essential. In fact the inductee can become very lonely…an idle mind is a devil’s workshop. Prevent this. Nip it in the bud. Engage the inductee.
Some related questions arise, how long should the ‘on-boarding’ process last or how can the effectiveness of the induction process be measured? My view is that induction drill should not last beyond four days. We must allow for new joiners to discover the organisation and its people. Don’t stretch the process and therefore contain costs. To measure if the processes are giving due results, test the candidates by asking questions, pertinent and relevant. No manager should shy away from the task. Induction is not to be thrown to the deep end of the sea or even to the hounds of the organisation. Such step will fill the candidate with a high dosage of negative tendencies. Avoid it by only monitoring the process. The beginning is the most important part of any work, inclusive of the young and tender, and of old and experienced for that is the occasion when impressions are formed with some rigidity of purpose.
Ensure to make your workplace a location for enjoyment, for where work is there; joy would be your best companion and at this stage the work ceases to be work. A good induction programme will initiate a healthy environment towards achieving common goals. Values must be shared and so should the vision be. Impart values, core values, but make sure not to oversee these intangible traditions, if there are serious gaps between claims and reality. If there is spirituality at work place, it will exhibit itself in the manner and method of interaction between colleagues.
Proper, with limited period, induction and on boarding programme will result in long term engagement.