07 Jun 2017
07_06

Children Like Structure

It is said that children thrive in a structured environment and there is plenty of evidence to suggest that this is broadly true. Even the so called ‘Happy Clappy’ schools have significant structures around both the happy and the clappy and are rather disciplined about when each should be explored and what is expected as output.

In recent one to one training sessions I have been working with delegates on leadership and have used the subject of Staff Induction as a project focus. What has emerged from these sessions is an interesting set of ideas around how to create a secure, robust and stable induction process. Since these have been recently proven valuable, I thought I would share these with you as they are pertinent to most of us.

Recruitment

It goes without saying that you need good materials to make a good product and your recruitment has to yield appropriate people in order for your induction to be effective. All is not lost if your recruitment practices are sub-optimal as a robust induction process will expose this and result in the realisation by both parties that a mistake has been made. While this is an undesirable outcome, here can be useful and immediate learning in this.

Induction

Almost all of you will have some formal method around induction, varied according to the level of the staff being inducted and the function they will fulfil. These ideas can be modified for most situations and are offered as a guide rather than a procedure.

Time Frame

Think three months rather than three days. Consider induction as a holistic series of events that include, let’s say, the initial three-day event where simple instruction is delivered about timekeeping, how to survive within the business and where the toilets and coffee machine are. Consider the induction process as a three-month project that you have taken on over and above your day job.

Your role

First and foremost commit yourself intellectually and emotionally to this longer time frame. This last point is the most crucial as your own approach, attitude and willingness to fulfil this role will determine the outcome. If you duck the responsibility and minimise your influence you will be to blame for the lack of progress and it will cost you time and effort in the long term.

Systemise the process in advance

Here is a live example of the first three weeks of an induction schedule for a telephone salesperson:

Day One – How the business operates – Meetings with:

  • Operational head
  • Logistics Manager
  • Sales team

One hour de-briefing with line manager

Day Two – Understanding the systems

  • Shadowing three different salespeople

One hour de-briefing with line manager

Day Three – Understanding the customer interface

  • Shadowing sales people for the am
  • Being shadowed by salespeople pm

One hour coaching with salesperson

Day Four – Telephone selling

  • Shadowed by both a senior salesperson and the line manager

One hour de-briefing with line manager and salesperson

Day Five – Telephone selling

  • Shadowed by a senior salesperson am
  • PM New recruit prepares a 20 minute formal presentation on key learnings acquired during the first five days and includes:
    • The standards and values of the business in their words
    • Why they think that this business is successful
    • Their selling results
    • Three areas they will concentrate on improving for the forthcoming week

This presentation is given in the afternoon of day five to the sales office and the line manager

Week Two – Days one through five – Telephone selling

  • Shadowed by various salespeople

Half hour de-briefing with line manager on each day

Week Three – Repeat as week two

  • Day five – PM New recruit prepares a 20 minute formal presentation on key learnings acquired during the first five days and includes:
    • Their selling results
    • Assessment of their product knowledge
    • Mistakes made and their learnings
    • Three areas they will concentrate on improving for the forthcoming week
    • Recommendations for the business

This presentation is given in the afternoon of day five to the sales office and the line manager

This does not end at week three. This salesperson will have additional shadowing, formal centralised product training and customer visits, all planned in advance and scheduled in the office diary. At the end of each month, this line manager meets with the new recruit and runs an informal appraisal that covers all the technical aspects of the role, the selling skills being acquired and the attitude needed to be successful in the business. I have sat in on one of these meetings and found it to be highly supportive, honest and robust.

It is my observation that the two factors in the whole process that will create a successful induction are:

  1. The attitude and commitment of the line manger
  2. The pre-planned agenda and the systematic nature of the process

Over to you, this could be an opportunity for you all to share your practices with induction, I would like to hear about them.