March 12, 2022

How Would an Anthropologist Design an Induction?

5 min read
By Khairunnisa Mohamedali PhD

Whether you’re a graduate starting out on your first job, or an experienced hire changing jobs, you’re experiencing what anthropologists call a liminal period.

You’re in between two fixed identities, occupying neither one nor the other fully. A graduate is no longer a student, but not yet a full-fledged member of the working world. An experienced hire is no longer in their old role, but not yet set in their new one.

Think of it as cracking through the egg if you’re a chick. Think of it as shedding your skin, if you’re a snake. If you’re human – you’re starting a whole new stage in life.

It’s a time when an old identity and way of being is dissolving, and a new one is being adopted. And with this new identity comes new ways of being and operating, new expectations and new behaviours.

Liminal periods are defined by ambiguity and uncertainty. But they’re also a time defined by opportunity. How can thinking about liminal periods shape how you think about your induction design?

1) Define rituals
  • Rituals helps create meaning. They can help provide structure, control and stability in the ambiguity of liminal periods.
  • Weddings, baby showers, bat mitzvahs, sweet sixteens, college graduations…these are all rituals used to help mark our transition into new a new stage of life by acknowledging who we were before, and celebrating who we are becoming
  • Using rituals can help new joiners effectively integrate into their new roles by acknowledging and structuring their transition

What rituals could you use in your induction and what are they marking?

Watch our on-demand Inductions Webinar to see what rituals our global clients include in their own induction programmes.

2) Clarify who new hires are through the transition
  • When we’re in transition between two roles or life stages, it can be hard to know exactly who we are, where we fit in, and what behaviours are expected of us. It can be helpful to have guides at times like this
  • When you’re 15 and coming of age, do you belong at the kids’ table, or the adults’ table? It’s easier if someone can help us figure out the awkward stage…an older brother…a cool aunt…
  • Helping inductees navigate who they are through this transition – their roles, responsibilities, expectations – can help them integrate effectively into their new working world and your organisation

Are you structuring their transition by defining roles, responsibilities and expectations?

Our Inductions Toolkit is bursting with tips to get you started.

3) Create opportunities for community-building
  • Navigating liminality is made easier when it is a shared experience, and there is often a sense of camaraderie between people who have experienced the same liminal period
  • The friends we make in college are often our friends for life, because we’ve all shared experiences over a key stage in our lives: the first taste of independence and adulthood
  • Creating spaces in your induction where this camaraderie can be strengthened is a powerful tool for building engagement within your graduate cohort

Are you structuring their transition by clearly shepherding inductees into their new roles, responsibilities and expectations?

Read our top tips for virtual community-building.

4) Make it an experience to remember
  • Liminal periods make up our most memorable times in life. They shape the people we become.
  • Our first kiss, getting married, the death of a loved one. Our first job. A career move. There’s a reason all the really good movies are all about people entering new life stages
  • Our first job is an important transition point, and associating it positively with your employer brand can result in long term engagement

How can you make your induction unforgettable?

Read how our clients have created award-winning memories for their cohorts on our case studies page.

5) Make it about meaningful learning
  • We are at our most open – to new perspectives, new ways of thinking and of being – during liminal periods
  • We can be quite experimental during our college years. And how many of us have gotten a new wardrobe before or first day at a new job?
  • Anchor your inductions in learning to guides students through their transition and help set the stage for unlocking their potential in their new world

How can you use key skills in your induction to unlock the right kind of talent?

View our suite of ready-to-go Skills Sessions to help fill knowledge gaps in your cohorts.

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