The Art of Strengths Coaching

I is for Induction Programmes

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There are many approaches to running induction programmes. This article provides exercises you can adapt in your own way when running such sessions.

In the old days new employees were sometimes put in a room and talked at. They were informed about the organisation’s history. This was followed by an overview of the health and safety procedures. People were then expected to go out and do their best.

Organisations now realise that induction is vital. One values-driven company I worked with, for example, took people off-site for three days. The first session began with an introduction from the Managing Director.

He explained the company’s aims and the rationale behind the strategy. Bringing this to life, he gave examples of ‘what good looked like’ so that people had a clear picture of success. This was followed by a question and answer session.

The rest of the three days were devoted to people doing exercises based on the company’s values. People came away knowing how to translate the values into action. The company also got a good idea about who would live their values in their daily work.

Another company I work with ensures that people spend their first month working with positive role models in the business. They then spend half a day with me.

The session begins by focusing on the qualities people need to thrive in the modern world of work. We explore, for example, how they can continue:

To build on their strengths, whilst managing the consequences of their weaknesses.

To proactively manage their key stakeholders.

To perform superb work and deliver success.

The company makes it clear that people are expected to contribute to delivering the Scorecard. This is the mandatory stuff that must be done. On top of this, however, they may also want to do other Stimulating Projects.

During the interview stage the company makes every effort to clarify people’s strengths. Towards the end of their probation period, however, the new employees focus on how they can make their best contributions to the business. This exercise is described at the end of this article.

Let’s return to the Induction Session. The company is growing quickly, hiring around 10 new people per month. The people attending the session may not know each other. So it can be helpful for them to know something about each other’s interests and achievements.

Bearing this in mind, I invite people to choose to do one of the following exercises. One exercise focuses on the things that give them positive energy – personally and professionally. The other focuses on when they have done satisfying work.

Each person writes their chosen exercise on a flip chart and puts this on the wall. People then pair up and explain to each other what they have written. Both exercises highlight themes we can follow up after the session.

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The Culture

The next stage of the Induction Session explores several themes that contribute to the culture. We focus on how people can continue:

To build super teams.

To live the values.

To do superb work and satisfy their key stakeholders.

People are also given practical tools they can use to thrive, rather than just survive, in the company.

By this stage we have reached the final hour of the session. At this point we adopt the approach that the best way to learn is to teach. People are asked to make presentations about the company culture.

This is an approach that I used in the therapeutic communities many years ago. The young people were asked to teach visiting social workers about:

The specific things the community could offer young people.

The specific things the young people needed to do if they were going to take responsibility for their lives and make the best use of the community.

Looking at the Induction Session with the company, some of the people will have only been there a few weeks. But nevertheless they are invited to do the exercises described below.

People choose the exercise they want to tackle. They are given half an hour to prepare. Each group then makes a presentation on their chosen topic.

Some may think this is asking a lot of new employees, but we find that people rise to the occasion. Here are the exercises on which they make presentations.

(Sometimes there are not enough people to do all the exercises, but that is okay. The key is for people to focus on the company culture.)

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The Next Steps

Looking ahead, people make action plans regarding the specific things they want to do in the next month. We then go around the room and ask each person to describe:

One specific thing they have learned – or relearned – today.

One specific thing they can do to deliver an early success in their work.

In one company I worked with, we did a follow up exercise after a few weeks. This encouraged people to prepare for the meeting at the end of their probationary period.

As mentioned earlier, people had signed up to deliver their part of the Scorecard. This was the mandatory stuff that must be delivered in their role. The person may have other strengths, however, that they could use to help the company achieve success.

Bearing this in mind, we invited people to do the exercise called My Best Contribution To The Company.

Before doing this, however, the person must have clarified their strengths. They needed to show the specific activities in which they could deliver As, rather than Bs or Cs. This had to be backed up by specific examples.

Here is the exercise on My Best Contribution. There were no guarantees that individuals would get their desired roles, but the process often resulted in harnessing people’s strengths. It produced benefits for both the employees and the company.

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