Starting a new job can be a little bit daunting. When I joined TST in the summer of 2017 what made it less daunting was the welcome I received and my unforgettable induction into the team. Company culture is so important and here that means sharing and celebrating our individual and collective skills. My role here at TST is all about experiences and events and I am encouraged every day to bring my experiences from outside the office into play, to thread them into my design work to create sticky learning.

For me, those experiences focus on music. I’m a musician and have been playing the oboe since I was 13 years old. Even now this means regular orchestral rehearsals and concerts in and around London.  Experience of performing live has taught me so much and I’ve been able to use those experiences to unlock talent: from designing learning for clients to advising colleagues on sourcing the right soundtracks for training sessions, and also in our weekly team meetings to encourage wellbeing.

So, what has the oboe taught me?

It all starts with breathing. To play the oboe, a woodwind instrument, I need good breath control. Good breath control means I can play a melody without breaking or punctuating the phrase with an unsightly gasp for air midway through. It also means I have a consistent quality of sound. Imagine a kite – without consistent air flow, the kite dips, if it even gets up in the air; with good air flow, the kite flies through the air and can be controlled beautifully.

And what’s that got to do with inductions?

  1. At induction, how we communicate, influence and inspire is key. That’s because it’s not just about what you say, but how you say it. And that focuses on your voice. If we have good breath control, our voice will sound smooth, resonant, calm, confident. Think about Day One for your new talent: whose is the first voice they will hear? What message is that voice communicating? Is that voice engaging new joiners to truly buy in to your organisational vision? The oboe has taught me it’s important to pause for a moment and practice – sit up straight (or, even better, stand up). Close your eyes. Making sure you take big deep breaths, breathe in for four, out for four and repeat for a few minutes. Now you are ready to speak calmly and confidently.
  2. The bonus here (especially for that first voice) is that this also connects to wellbeing. Breathing helps control nerves. And we all get nervous. Which in turn can affect our voices, our performance at work, or our oboe playing. How does wellbeing and resilience feature in your induction? Do you talk about resilience in a memorable and positive way?

When I joined TST I was able to harness the power of breathing to keep myself calm and to project confidence when I spoke, inspired by that first voice.

How can you use this to ensure successful inductions for your new people?

Firstly, consider your speakers at induction. How can they be supported in delivering key strategic messages with real impact? And, secondly, how are your early talent focusing on wellbeing and resilience during induction? The answer starts with breathing.

By Suzanne Wheatley

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