Induction is suckin’ the life out of me

Some names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Imagine the scene. You’ve passed the interviews and all the tests. Finally it is day one at Doofus Corp and in you walk, the new broom, ready to sweep clean. Sitting in the shiny new reception area you wonder, what excitement awaits you on this day of days?

Hallelujah – it’s induction time! Time to find out all that cool useful stuff you just have to know about.

The doors to the inner sanctum slide effortlessly open and you are bathed in a warm, welcoming light. Unable to resist you are drawn to the light and you enter in. Keen to show willing you move to the front of the room and take a seat. The lights dim, the curtains part to reveal a screen and you feel a little…different? The screen illuminates with a slide. The slide says welcome to Doofus Corp. It is followed by another slide, and another, and another, and another…

Six hours and one hundred and ninety five slides later you emerge. The shine has gone. Long gone. You have been inducted. And it hurts. I wish I was kidding, but I’m not. In a recent conversation I learned that a company delivers a one way, six hour, one hundred and ninety five slide induction nightmare.

It doesn’t have to be like this – does it?

Thankfully it doesn’t. There are folks out there, caring sharing folks who have some interesting and thoughtful ideas around how to make the onboarding, the induction experience more meaningful. One of these sharers is Ben Eubanks. I’ve not met Ben but we’ve shared tweets and blogs, and he seems a good guy. He likes zombie HR too. Ben runs UpstartHR and has recently published a useful ebook about onboarding and induction. He’s collaborated with some interesting folk to give this publication a diversity and a depth you don’t normally find. Especially in the world of induction.

And then there’s Sukhvinder Pabial. Sukh has been in the field of learning and development for a number of years, he and I meet regularly in twitter land and we’ve even shared a few good ideas in real life. I recently read and enjoyed an interesting article about onboarding that Sukh wrote for Training Journal. In it he talks about the importance of collaboration and one of my favourite things – the power of proceed until apprehended.

And as much as I respect Ben and Sukh, and as much as their ideas are much better than those at Doofus Corp – I feel there’s still something missing. All this onboarding, induction stuff is too one way, too broadcast. Cue a great conversation with Liam Barrington-Bush. Liam is from Toronto, and he’s been to the bar owned by Alex Lifeson of Rush fame which instantly qualifies him as a dude. And he is a founder of Concrete Solutions, an innovative community interest company which is all about “helping organisations to be more like people”. I love that.

Liam and I have followed each other on twitter for several months. We met recently and enjoyed a diverse and vibrant conversation about how to make the world of work feel more like…the rest of the world. We both had a good moan about induction and its dehumanising effect. I mean – companies recruit individuals because they believe they will fit in, sure. But what about the spark you saw in the potential new recruit – that sense of individual flare? Surely you’re not telling us that you only asked those questions about creativity and innovation because someone told you to?

Over the course of two beers (each – how rock n roll is that?) Liam and I agreed that there needs to be something else. What about anti-induction, antiduction? Nahhh, that word doesn’t work but the idea might. A lot of what seems to get covered at induction (is it just me or is that word starting to creep you out too?), could be given out as reading material if it’s really necessary – and then new folks could get together with each other and a few folk who have been there a while and chew this stuff over.

Wouldn’t it be cool if when folks are onboarded, they get a chance to onboard something of themselves too? It would be really interesting and hell, maybe even really useful to learn more about these people, their ideas, their personalities. But nearly all Liam and I see in the world of induction and onboarding (aaaccckkk!!) is one way – telling telling telling. Kinda haunting eh?

So next time you welcome some new folks into your place – why not make some time for them to remind you about why you invited them in. Help them to help you, one conversation at a time. Is there room for that? I think there should be.

photo c/o …Alba…

Phantom HR

The #zombiehr series continues. Today I publish my first poem. Fittingly – this is a scary moment for me. Here goes:

We talk about engagement, I want to help you start a movement

I sit and look at nodding heads, You leaders give agreement

Too easily

So plans are made and papers wrote, You say “approved” leave me no doubt

That what you say and what you do, Are both quite different parts of you

Carry on

So here I stand, on the brink, Of brave endeavour and I think

A glance behind to check you’re there, And it’s too late…

Thin air

You decide, withdraw support, I think perhaps you maybe ought

To write and sing your own work anthem, You disappeared, a leader phantom

I am Alone

I believe that all folk come to work, And do not mean to be a jerk

Yet somehow you can’t help yourselves, And into politics you delve

Protect yourself

If you fancy adding a verse or two – feel free to do so in the comments. Thanks

photo c/o americanvirus

Mummy HR

mummy by publicinsomniac
mummy by publicinsomniac

We’re continuing our series of HR ghosts and ghouls and tonight it’s the turn of the mummy. When I think of mummies I think of them in the classic horror pose, arms oustretched, shambling along bound in tape and bandages. And it’s the tape which binds these soulless creatures that I want to focus on. The bureaucratic tape which binds organisations and lashes them to the stumbling shambling gait of the mummy.

I enjoyed reading a great conversation started by Ben Eubanks over at UpstartHR recently all about whether companies should have a working through lunch policy. Seriously, lunch policy. I recommend you pop over and read the whole piece, to get you started here’s a snippet provided by Steve Browne:

My question is “Why is the HR person looking to add yet another policy?”

If the behavior isn’t working, or if the employee isn’t doing work, then just TALK TO THEM !!

Sorry to yell, but it blows me away that HR has fallen into such a deep hole when it comes to writing policies. We forget that there are many employees who work for us and not just a few. Most policies are written because of the behavior of a few folks.

And what about dress code policy? I was talking about this with a couple of HR practitioners just recently and one of them said “dress code policy is a great way of showing folks that you don’t trust them with even the most basic things”. Unnecessary bureaucracy and more tape round the mummy. I went to agree and before I could do so – the third member of our conversation violently disagreed. “You have to tell people what to wear or they will just wear what they like”. All I could manage was a head slap of disdain. I slapped my own head, not theirs.

Sometimes my work involves carrying out stakeholder engagement audits. As part of these audit my associates and I talk with lots of staff, and the stories they tell us about unnecessary policies written and implemented to “legislate” against things that haven’t happened and in all likelihood won’t, are eye boggling. I can’t go into detail but things like no alcohol and no toasters (yup – no toasters) are often used to bind the policy mummy even tighter. The tighter the policy, the greater the lack of trust, and this lack of trust is a root cause of people feeling disengaged from their employer. It is damaging and unnecessary.

You may think, I can run faster than the mummy, it’ll never catch me. And you forget – the mummy is undead. It will shamble on until you can run no more and then, and only then will it wrap you in its lunch/dress code/alcohol/toaster bandages. And you will suffocate.

Despite my punk roots I’m not advocating anarchy, and I appreciate the requirement for policy. But surely policy should be stuff that enables work, makes things happen, not stuff that binds and chokes the life from the company?

I’d love to hear from you if you have ever seen mummy HR stumbling along your corridors binding folk with its policy bandages.

photo c/o publicinsomniac