Get them while they’re fresh

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One of the most effective points on which to focus when you’re trying to change an organisation’s culture is on its most recent recruits.  It’s not obvious – and often left to the vagaries of HR and training to put together an induction process.

But think about this: When they start they’ve usually made a choice to come and work with you.  That they’ve chosen you means that they are more positively pre-disposed to you.  (And even if they’ve made a choice out of desperation or lack of alternatives, there’s still a sense of relief that they’ve got a job – and hence a residual positivity about their situation)

They may even be enthusiastic about their new job.  Your job is to make that last and help them fit in quickly.

If you’re trying to change the organisation, these are the people who don’t have the baggage of the old ways.  They’ll quickly be indoctrinated and "wised up" about "the way things actually work around here" by their colleagues unless you put something in place to support and encourage them.

  • Liaise with whoever’s running the induction process and work to focus it around the changes taking places
    • Be clear in communicating reasons for change and how the new organisation will work
    • Retell the organisation’s core histories, making them relevant to the changes taking place and the values that you’re talking about
    • Get high-profile change champions to talk to them, not just the tired old standard inductees
    • Instill some enthusiasm and fun into the process
  • Put together a CD-ROM for everyone who’s joining – containing welcome packages as well as all the documentation they need in their early days
    • Include holiday policies, maternity leave, etc – everything that’s relevant and relates to their personal life
    • Use video and audio interviews with key people in the organisation – but make them relaxed and informal
    • Talk to people who’ve joined in the past year – what do they wish they’d known, what advice would they give to new recruits?
    • Review it every quarter to update all the content
  • Give them blogs in a private part of the intranet where they’re encouraged to post daily with initial impressions and questions – and restrict access to a handful of people to support and ask questions.  Give them a safe place in which to feed back to you what working here is really like.

There are, of course, alternatives.  Dilbert, as is often the case, gets very close to the experiences we’ve all had…

Dilbert

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