Staff induction or orientation

Posted by  Shawn Callahan —June 11, 2007
Filed in Business storytelling, Communication, Culture

I might have mentioned a few posts ago that we are currently helping a government department develop a staff induction program for their Aboriginal employees. One of the suggestions we’ve made is for new employees to seek out stories from others in the department as a way to create new relationships while also developing an understanding of how things work around here.

I noticed that Dave Snowden has come to similar conclusions. He says,

… one of the methods we created (Open Source and free, but this one is not documented yet so what follows is covered by a creative commons license) is to send people when they join an organisation on a treasure hunt. You give them some categories (A senior engineer with more than ten years experience, someone in accounts who has field experience) and tell them to gather in stories from those people. You don’t give them names, they have to develop social networks to find them. Once they have gathered those stories, then, in front of their peers and after some training, they perform their own story, taking their own history, the stories of the elders and the current context to show how they stand in, not apart from the flow of history.

I like Dave’s idea for the new staff to create their own story and than retelling it to their peers. It is in this retelling that sensemaking occurs.

While working on this project I’ve done some searching of the literature to see if others have developed staff induction programs for Aboriginal workers. I couldn’t find much as at. Any pointers here would be welcomed.

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About  Shawn Callahan

Shawn, author of Putting Stories to Work, is one of the world's leading business storytelling consultants. He helps executive teams find and tell the story of their strategy. When he is not working on strategy communication, Shawn is helping leaders find and tell business stories to engage, to influence and to inspire. Shawn works with Global 1000 companies including Shell, IBM, SAP, Bayer, Microsoft & Danone. Connect with Shawn on:


  1. Conor says:

    When taking on someone I have a simple system. First hour, first day, first week. Its based on the idea that we work in cycles and that we have a bias towards going back to our entry point.
    So the first hour is probably the peak point when you have the newcomers full attenttion; whatever is the most important thing in your organisation, cleaning in a restuarant, the excellent finish in a craft job, exactness in accounts, whatever; make sure they know what it is in that hour. Sometime down the line they will be uncertain what to do and they will revert to what most impressed them on the morning of their first day. Be there before them.
    The first day is for the ethos of the place; why give yourself the job of instilling a new ethos into them later on when they were like putty in your hands on their first day.
    The first week is for production; keep the work into them in their first week and they will take it in their stride from then on.
    Good blog. Thanks, Conor

  2. Shawn says:

    Great ideas Conor. Do you plan any activities for first month and first quarter?

  3. Conor says:

    No, thats like asking are you going to have a second shot at an open goal. The first week is the one best time when you have their attention; after that the goalie is back in place, full back is using his elbow, and there is hassle coming from all sides. From week 2 for better or worse they are part of the team and you have to treat them as such. Anyway if they are worth taking on they are surely worth quality time for the first week. Why bother taking them on if you are going to treat them like blocks of stone when you could be making sculptures.

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