Inarticulate ramblings of a management consultant

the day to day experiences of a consultant operating in weird and wonderful client situations

Induction – setting the tone for future performance and productivity

I’ve had the great pleasure and extremely interesting experience of being ‘inducted’ into my new employer over the last 10 days and very good it has been too.

The term induction has always had elements of the “Borg Collective” for me (for those of you who remember the early days of Startrek!) and there’s no doubt that some companies have a more Machiavellian approach to this than others…when one hears expressions about the corporate Kool-aid, you may begin to wonder.

Seriously though, there’s no doubt in my mind that the first few weeks of work set the tone for the rest of one’s career at that organisation. There’s a power law in action here which is almost impossible to resist…which leads me to another frustration in the corporate world.

If we accept that induction is a critical dimension in the career and
progression of an employee, why are we not managing it better?

The financial consequences are easy to measure…whilst employee productivity is not linear, there is no doubt that for every additional day employed and engaged, output and contribution will increase.

Many years ago, I worked as a consultant for an insurance company in the UK with an inspirational and highly innovative leader. His awareness of this opportunity led to a series of simple, cheap and highly effective measures. Let me give you some examples:

  1. Every floor in a 10 floor building was colour coded. On day 1, every new employee was given a laminated A5 card (good early use of behavioural economics) which explained the code, ie blue= finance, red = claims etc. The buttons in the lifts were similarly colour coded…so remembering what floor a function was one no longer presented a problem…you simply pressed the appropriate colour. In a heart beat, the feeling of being the new boy at school has been dealt with, and the hours of wondering aimlessly whilst trying not to look lost are a thing of the past.
  2. A buddy system operated. Unlike in many organisations, this was a role which indicated career progression and potential for those around the buddy…everyone understood the value of doing it well and there was no shortage of volunteers. At the end of the induction period, a serious feedback process insured a proper evaluation of the buddy and continuous improvement.

That approach was a factor in the development of a highly successful business in a commoditised business where customer service became a key differentiator.

As we enter a corporate market where the average length of service continues to fall, creating an entry process which enables the individual to become productive quickly and effectively will become more and more important.

If you’ve had any good / or indeed bad experiences in the induction world, I’d love to hear from you!

Categories: Behavioural Economics, Career development, human behaviour, Human Capital, psychology

Tags: , ,

2 replies

  1. great article and I agree with the sentiment. One small point from us real Trekkies – the Borg were not in the early days they first appeared in Star Trek TNG and the Voyager spin off.


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