STOP, DON’T let them “FIT IN”!
I was having a conversation with one of my colleagues who had just returned from conducting our signature Jumpstart Program (Our Campus to Corporate transition module) and she mentioned something that stuck with me.
After the program, the individual, an engineer who had just joined a large manufacturing MNC, said to my colleague, “Ma’am, the session was very insightful. I have learnt a lot that wasn’t taught or spoken about at our Institute. But I don’t think all this will be very useful as once we start working, we have to ‘fit’ into the company culture and do what we are told to.”
This has become a recurring narrative in the last 8-9 years that we have been running this program and interacting with hundreds of graduates and, management graduates. In their elements and without the fear of being judged or rated, they let their guard down and speak their mind, offering us a window into their world, hopes, opinions, and expectations. Some of these are no doubt ill-informed but perhaps the fear of having fit in and not having an opportunity to bring their natural curiosity and newly gained knowledge into play is the biggest of them all.
What an irony it would be to bring in fresh talent into the company and not provide them with a culture that allows for those very qualities to flourish?
Here are some ideas and insights that might make sense:
- CAN YOUR “INDUCTION” BE AN “EXPLORATION”?
What if your induction didn’t “tell” the joinees how things are done at your org but in fact are designed to “hear” from them what they have explored?
Here is an illustration; make groups of 5-6 Engineers each, who have just joined an Automobile company, and send them to different departments with no introductions, no background, no names and 3 days hence ask them to make a creative presentation on everything they have learnt. You will be amazed at both- the enterprise they demonstrate and the kind of things they notice that might not have fitted into your templated PPT.
- HOW ABOUT AN “INDUCTION” FOR YOUR PEOPLE MANAGERS?
Create a program for the Managers who will have these new joiners as their DRs wherein, these managers will be guided on the process of managing, mentoring and coaching in a way that helps them guide and support the new joinees well.
This induction is not to give new joinees any privileges but to ensure that their spirit of exploration and curiosity is satiated and harnessed, and they feel engaged and fulfilled.
- HACKATHON TO END AN INDUCTION PROGRAM
Instead of asking the new joinees to make elaborate presentations on what they have learnt about your company’s glorious products, processes, technologies and so on (where they tell you what you already know), conduct a Hackathon! Break them into smaller groups, and give them challenges or opportunities from specific topics/departments thrown at them.
You could have a member of that department embedded in each team so that there is buy-in and a follow up taken up by the team who stands to gain the most from that idea.
Invite department heads, announce it as an event on your internal messenger. By making it a big deal, you tell the new joinees that they matter in the most powerful way and earn their motivation and engagement.
- REVERSE MENTORING
The younger generations’ learning agility, especially all things technology is something the more experienced managers might have missed out. Getting the fresh entrants to conduct group sessions on new trends in technologies for their seniors gives purpose, the pride of place and motivation to the freshers making them believe they play a significant role with the added benefit of spreading knowledge. Believe me, they’ll put their heart into it.
- A LEADERSHIP MODULE AFTER INDUCTION:
Most management trainees assume (assistant) managerial positions after their induction process and most have small teams to manage as well. A short but impactful leadership module (like our Leadership 101) at the end of their induction program will set them up for their new role and would also give them pride that their organization care about them and their success. We have been doing such programs for a few clients and are receiving very positive feedback.
- AN OFFICIAL BUT ‘INFORMAL’ REUNION MAYBE?
An annual reunion of batches of freshers or even 2 batches together, say for the first 2-3 years, will help keep the coalition alive. It should be officially sanctioned but not have an air of formality by calling “leaders” to “grace” the occasion. Maybe even give a budget and let them plan it on their own and only have to get it approved for appropriateness. They’re grown up and they will know their boundaries!
So are you going to let your new campus hires fit in or stand out?