I know a chief executive who attends the induction-welcome for all new staff.

Once a month, she turns up, says welcome, tells them about the mission and values of the organisation and what she expects of everyone.

Leaning back in her chair, across a huge mug of builder’s, she says; ‘I think it’s important that people know who I am, what I stand for and what I expect.’

At the other end of the country another Chief Executive invited me to his induction meeting. They have them, roughly, every three weeks.

He told his audience the history of the hospital, its successes. What he was trying to achieve and how the Board was going to do it.

The nurse director and the HR director were supposed to have turned up but as the ChEx admitted;

‘They are under so much pressure, they often have to send someone else. Sometimes the chair turns up, and we have a non-exec, an ex-nurse, who’s keen and comes in whenever he can.’

As I left, we shook hands in the car-park and he said; ‘We’re going through a tough time and I want people to know how we are facing the challenges. I think it’s important.’

With that, he turned and was gone… and I rang my mortgage broker, to raise the funds to pay the car-park charges…

On the way back to leafy Surrey, I thought about both of those encounters…

Audiences of young people starting out, some much older, some rejoining, picking-up their careers.

Men and women, different cultural backgrounds. Some highly qualified, others trained, others with a good heart and hope.

A diverse workforce you’d be hard pressed to replicate anywhere but healthcare.

Two chief executives, at the top of their game; how is it that good people, can try so hard to do the right thing, yet get it so wrong.

Two of the worst induction experiences I have seen. Talk and tell. Sterile. Bosses reinforcing they are the boss. And, by the time the event takes place the newcomers have already formed a view and the canteen culture will have started its corrosion.

On the list of these organisation’s priorities, induction is at the top. In practice, about 50th. Tick the box.

Induction. The subtext; ‘This is how you will fit-in.’

Let’s start again. Think Shoshin…

… a word from Zen Buddhism meaning… ‘beginner’s mind’.

It describes having an attitude of openness, eagerness and lack of preconceptions, just as a beginner might.

Shoshin induction? The narrative goes something like this;

‘… I’m pleased you’ve decided to join us, trust us with your working week. You are welcome. We’ll do our best to treat you fairly, make it enjoyable and be sure you are safe and encouraged.

Tell me, why have you joined us…’

Some will say, ‘I’m here because it’s my rotation’.

Another might say, ‘I need a job and this is local and I can pick my kids up from school.’

How about; ‘I wanted to learn a trade and you have an apprenticeship scheme.’

Then there is; ‘It’s a promotion’.

Or… ‘I’ve always wanted to be a nurse.’

You might discover; ‘I’m just divorced and back at work because need a job…’

Different reasons and mind-sets. The question for us is not how we induct them into our lives. The question is; how can we fit into their’s? Make them want to be part of ours.

Shoshin induction, ‘through the mind of a beginner’, helps us to understand what we have to do to become a better employer…

… provide learning opportunities, career progression… a way to the top. For others, a job, a regular income and to leave work behind at the end of the day. Some will lack confidence. Others will worry about picking-up their kids and can’t stay late.

The NHS’ mision is to provide better, safer, faster healthcare, right first time, for us all.

The people who deliver that are not ‘staff’ or ‘workers’, they are individuals who come to work with us, not for us.

They come for their own motives and reasons. Each one an individual with their own hopes, plans and dreams.

Once we understand why they join, we might understand why so many leave.

Once we understand that we’ll discover the trick of making work, work for everyone.

Contact Roy – please use this e-address – roy.lilley
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Reproduced at TrainingPrimaryCare.com by kind permission of Roy Lilley.