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Sunday, 14 June 2009

Making introductions

And so you start your first day at the new job.

There are two sorts of starts.
  1. The informal induction
  2. The formal induction.

The informal induction.
It goes like this.
'Here's your desk, here's your PC, there is some paperwork for you to complete, see you in November'.

IT haven't set your log in, you therefore do not officially exist, you can't access your email and your default printer is set to print in another office on another floor but no one tells you for a week. As you do not exist you cannot book holidays and the IT help line is always on answerphone. HR do not seem to have heard about you joining and ask for your bank details five times.

You now spend six months trying to find out what your job is, what it is you do and what you do does. Forget it, you'll never find out, just fill in forms A/11/C1957 and fax them to 5543 as soon as you have done so and don't forget the pinks go to ACCAT7 and the blues in that tray there.
You never find out what or who is ACCAT7 or whether there is a 1 - 6 version either.

You spend the first four months walking half a mile to the nearest loo and then find out that there is one around the corner.

You are startled by the fire alarm once a week, looking around to see if any other members of staff are making any attempt to leave only to find out it is the regular test. Then, when the fire alarm goes off on a different day and time you look around to see if any of the other members of staff are making any attempt to leave and can't hep feeling concerned that they aren't when you can hear approaching sirens and notice there does seem to be a lot of smoke coming from the stationery cupboard.

For the first year you can only navigate your way from the entrance to your desk and back and do not realise that there are 1500 other members of staff on the same site, on different floors only nobody has told you anything about them.

You are told that there is a probationary period before you become a full member of staff and that performance objectives will be set. You never hear anything more about either.

You hear stories about a staff canteen but never find it. You eat your sandwiches at your work station whilst all around you your colleagues disappear for two hours, for lunch, but you don't know where they go.

You have never seen the MD of the organisation but see his/her car park space immediately outside the main door. You however have a quarter mile trek from the staff car park along a muddy path. You believe the MD is the one whose presence causes everyone to quit looking at the BBC news site and eBay on their PCs and look intensely busy as he/her strides through the office looking neither left nor right

You finally make contact with the two key people in the whole organisation - the keeper of the stationery cupboard and the one person in IT who can actually make your PC work without first asking you to reboot it.

The formal introduction.
It goes like this.
You have four days of tightly scheduled presentations from members of staff who you never see again in your whole time with the organisation.

The presenters never start or finish on time and about 33% mysteriously never turn up causing the over jolly person from HR to go into meltdown and end each day session early.

You are given an introduction to the aims and goals of the organisation by the highest member of the senior management team HR have convinced to turn up. This could be the cleaner, though their introduction is usually an improvement on the one given by the senior manager who clearly thinks that achieving his/her performance bonus is the major aim of the business. They tell you about the structure of the business. It looks like someone has upturned a bowl of spaghetti but presume it makes sense to someone somewhere. Actually it never does.

85% of the presenters start off by apologising for the boring nature of their subject. They do not lie. 95% then go on to overrun their alloted slot causing you to think longingly of blunt objects with which to strike them and thinking maybe signing on once every two weeks wasn't that bad after all.

90% of presenters believe that a good presentation depends on them standing in front of the new staff with their back to them reading directly from 173 densely written Powerpoint slides which they use as their script. They do not notice they lose their audience from slide 2 and neither do they understand why, after two long deadly dull hours of talking in a monotone no one has a question. Everyone is now comatose. The new staff only have one question - how long before I can go home and tell myself this is all a horrible dream.

IT haven't set your log in, you therefore do not officially exist, you can't access your email and your default printer is set to print in an office in France but no one tells you for a month as you frantically try to find the scurrilous emails your friend has sent you and you have sent to print. As you do not exist electronically you cannot book holidays and the IT help line is always on answerphone.

You finally make contact with the two key people in the whole organisation - the keeper of the stationery cupboard and Kevin in IT who can actually make your PC work without first asking have you rebooted it. You have, 26 times that day for a start.

You are required to sign an additional 23 forms telling you about data protection, eating at your workstations, staff socials, joining a Trades Union ('We welcome it.' They don't.), DSE, GSE, ABH, DDT, ABAGH and other abbreviations and acronyms you can't understand.

Then, on the first day at real work, you get a 'local' induction. 'Here's your desk, here's your PC, there is some paperwork for you to complete, see you in November'.

You are told about PDRs or PDPs leading to NVQs or possibly RACs and NFIs. You are so full of information after the first five days you can no longer absorb any more. You stagger back to the staff car park and drive home, exhausted.

Welcome back to work.