Someone of great discernment once said ‘Democracy is the worst system yet tried. Apart from all the others.’ It was in this spirit that I was witness to the focus group Sally Gulliver chaired on the induction process here at Global Blancmange.
Sally thanked them for coming, offered them biscuits and sat back down, winking at me as she did so in a manner which affirmed our budding friendship and, I hope, her tentative suspicion that there are worse things in business than having a pot plant as a mentor. Such as being dragged through an induction process, for example.
All four had recently been through ours. What did they think of it, asked Sally.
‘It was like running into my new job on the first day, full of excitement, only to hit the brick wall of a Staff Handbook.’
‘It made me wonder why I’d joined. And what I’d joined.’
‘It was certainly “a process” – I’d been “processed”. As in, ‘processed meat’.’
‘There was so much legal stuff - ’
‘You need that though, don’t want new joiners expiring in the corridors…’
‘But the way it’s written, you’re more likely to forget it, so it doesn’t work anyway, even if it does tick a box for the lawyers.’ ‘Why d’you need an induction at all?’
So what would they like to see instead?
You can’t pussyfoot around in the dog-eat-dog world of big blancmange.
‘I need to know what I’m getting into – you can’t pussyfoot around in the dog-eat-dog world of big blancmange.’
‘Yeah true: big blancmange can get very sticky if you don’t know what you’re doing. I need to know who the key players are, and what they expect.’
‘I didn’t need all that ‘history of the company’ stuff. I can find that on the website if I want. It was like being held hostage in a museum. Without the relief of a gift shop at the end.’
‘Yeah, and all the cultural stuff! They think they can just spell out what the culture is around here, and ta-daa, it’s in place! “It must be like this cos we said so on the posters by the lifts.” I mean, they bang on about how trust is one of their corporate values…’
‘… and then the first thing you see in your new department is that sign in the stationery cupboard: ‘COLLEAGUES WILL BE SEARCHED IF STATIONERY CONSUMPTION EXCEEDS NORMAL PARAMETERS’.’
Sally nodded, and took notes. Then she asked: ‘Anything about our induction process you’d like to keep?’
The silence stretched and settled over Sally’s office for some minutes. It was finally broken only by a team of blancmange technicians in the next room whooping as they solved a particularly difficult viscosity challenge.
Next Friday: An Induction Course to Die For
Bingleby was confiding in Richard Goff
This is like a story book...I want to read the next chapter:-)
I like the way you have written it - indeed, it's like a story. I am especially impressed by that quote about the god-eat-dog world and your poignant language on the whole.
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