So you’ve just spent a small fortune with a recruitment agency, or invested hours and hours interviewing and picking a new member of staff, but what are you going to do once they start?

The induction process is a much overlooked piece of work, often the task of introducing a new start is delegated to someone else in the team and new starter, after a cursory introduction to the role, the obligatory form filling in, the meeting with the boss and the site tour are then left to make their way through the business and get to grips with their role.

The business case

We have to accept that many new starters don’t arrive as fully productive members of staff.  Often they are recruited as a consequence of a more experienced person leaving, or to head up something new.  Either way the wider team or the immediate supervisor tends to pick up the slack.  A good induction is about getting someone up to speed as quickly as possible to reduce the lag in them becoming fully productive, reducing the burden on the wider team and getting them to be as productive as possible.

Critical factors in a great induction


Human beings are social animals and the feeling of belonging is a fundamental part of motivation (see Maslow etc etc etc).  The induction must create an environment where the new starter feels welcome, part of a team and understands where they fit in relation to others.  Get this right and the person will feel good about the business and their decision to join.  Its all about simple things, taking people out for lunch on the first day, emailing all to let them know whose started with a photo (if you’re in a big firm), making sure they’re on email circulation lists etc.


Just because you’ve done an interview, don’t assume you know everything about someone in terms of skills and abilities.  In the first week, sit down and walk through your expectations and the job role in great detail to assess where the person has strength and where they’ll need support.  This is a great activity as it sets expectations at the right level, and you won’t run the risk of setting someone up to fail, you’ll also get a sense early on if you made the right choice.  Once you’ve got a good idea of how comfortable the person is with the role, you can then start setting tasks accordingly to build confidence.

Review, Review, Review

Okay, so the contract says three months probationary period, but don’t wait that long to review the employee – do it weekly.  A common reasons why new starters fail is they struggle with the role, don’t have the confidence to ask for help for fear of looking stupid and hide mistakes.  By doing weekly reviews for the first three months you’ll get a good sense of how someone is coping – you can also highlight any errors, or concerns you have to get them out of the way and keep the person on the right track.  Keep the reviews simple, and talk honestly about how the are doing.  This shows the new starter you want them to succeed and helps build a string relationship.

Work to a plan

Finally plan how you will drip feed work into the new starter.  To start with keep things simple and within their skill set then as they progress in confidence and knowledge step up the difficulty and complexity.  This way you’ll be more inclined to involve them in new tasks, understand clear strengths and avoid over stretching them.  A good tip is to make sure you have good check lists, FAQ’s or job manuals to act as aide memoirs to help them solve their own problems.


A final point to note is asking the exiting employee to either create a how to do guide for their role or do a hand over to the new starter.  For the how to guide don’t assume they’ve done a good job.  An employee who is due to leave may not have the patience, motivation or skills to create the manual and you may find they miss out critical information or stages in a process.  In terms of the handover, make sure the person doing the handover has the right attitude and isn’t going to start spreading gossip or talking negatively about the firm.

Final words

The success or failure of a new starter has a lot to do with the quality of the induction – so if you want them to do well, put the effort in at the start.