Using Organizational Socialization Tactics to Help Newcomers Adjust

The process of socialization within organizations is designed to quickly help newcomers orient and familiarize themselves with company procedures. If you have ever been on the receiving end of an effective initiation program, then you know how helpful it can be in helping with early adjustment. The science shows that effective early socialization can affect long term organizational outcomes. Recent research (Lapointe, Vandenberghe, & Boudrias, 2014) investigated how organizations can use certain organizational socialization tactics to positively influence such outcomes.


There are three major domains that encompass socialization tactics within organizations. These include collective and formal tactics, which concern the context of newcomer socialization, sequential and fixed tactics, which deal with the content of information provided, and finally, investiture and serial tactics which concern social aspects of the process. These three domains should be designed to reduce the uncertainty of newcomers. The researchers hypothesized that these tactics are related to the extent to which newcomers will experience a clear sense of what is expected of them and what they should do on the job. In turn, researchers investigated whether giving employees clear expectations influences employees’ sense of competency at a later time.


Trust forms an important element of organizational effectiveness. For example, when people trust supervisors and co-workers, they are more likely to feel comfortable and to fully engage at work. Entry periods into organizations are critical times for facilitating the formation of trusting relationships. There is a mental and emotional element to these relationships. Emotional trust is considered a more powerful form of trust, as it becomes more important in long term outcomes. The researchers sought to understand whether trust-building tactics also impact employees’ sense of commitment to the organization.


The researchers found that when newcomers had a clear sense of what was required of them in the organization, they later reported more competent performance on the job. They also found that emotional-based trust relationships with supervisors or co-workers improved the relationship between socialization tactics and organizational commitment. The implication here is that initial processes that help newcomers build trusting relationships can later go on to affect commitment to that organization.


The results highlight the necessity for organizations to ensure that they have a two-pronged approach to helping newcomers adjust to the work environment. This requires helping newcomers understand what is required of them and how to adopt effective strategies for dealing with work tasks. Also important is the need to give newcomers the opportunity to build significant relationships with organizational insiders. By realizing this, organizations can facilitate newcomer adjustment as well as foster greater organizational commitment.


Lapointe, E., Vandenberghe, C., & Boudrias, J.-S. (2014). Organizational socialization tactics and newcomer adjustment: The mediating role of role clarity and affect-based trust relationships. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 87(3), 599-624.