Friday 26 April 2013

Induction Buddies - learning for the New Hires

Best first day of work evar It's tough being a Newbie. The first days and weeks at your new job are the steepest part of the learning curve. You have to learn not just the rules, but all the unspoken cultural norms as well. You have to learn what to do, and also how to do it, as well as building the relationships you need to survive and thrive. It's no surprise that 46% percent of new hires don’t last 18 months at a cost of three times their salary to the company.

Many organisations provide some sort of mentor or guide for new staff - often someone senior who has been around for a long time, and who knows how things work. (Some organisations don't even do this - they provide 2 weeks induction training, then "off you go").

The trick here, however, is to choose the right person to be the mentor or buddy. The wrong choice would be to pick a senior, because the senior has become so embedded in the company culture hat it has become unconscious. They find it hard to put themselves in the position of the newbie, for whom all of the unspoken norms are not norms at all. The newbie doesn't know what they don't know, while the oldie doesn't know what they know.

The best induction buddy is someone who has been in the company for no more than a year or two, who understands the learning curve the newbie faces, and who is still conscious of what needs to be learned. They know what they have learned, and know what the newbie needs to know as well. They can empathise and sympathise. (Here is a great description of the buddy role).

Even better, is to support your newbies with a "new hire" community of practice - an online community who's  practice area is "learning to work and survive in this organisation." Such communities can provide an excellent knowledge base for the new starter. As the ConocoPhillips New Hire Network says, "Whatever your discipline, if you’re new onboard, you’re in. Meet and network with fellow new hires in an informal setting while promoting professional growth".

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