Induction in the time of Corona
Is it just me, or does March 2020 feel like a LONG time ago?
I still remember the early rumblings of uncertainty as the pandemic tightened it’s invisible grip.
By late March, the irreparable shift in our socio-economic landscape was finally starting to hit home for most of us.
I can imagine the conversations being had around dinner tables across the country when a pensive Australian workforce returned home to their families each night, many of them unsure about what the future held for them.
(I often like to think, it is during these times you truly find out who your friends are; Who is truly loyal to you. March 2020 was a moment in my journey as a human being, this late in life, when for the first time, I found the true gift of friendship; but more on that later!)
Fast forward to Mid-April.
I find myself sitting in a brand-new office building on Flinders lane, having accepted an incredibly promising job offer which was extended to me around a time when redundancies were more common than Job offers.
I had a 14 year-long successful corporate career under my belt and was in a very well-paid job when this offer was made. I was gearing up to launch my own business at the end of the year. I had organised the initial capital I needed to invest. Every duck and her ducklings were lined up in a row. (With bow ties on!)
And then – BOOM. I typed up a resignation letter one afternoon.
Two lines. No verses in rhyme. No explanation.
When I resigned, many asked why I chose to take a leap of faith like that during such challenging times. Given, that it was in a completely different industry to what I specialised in.
“What if it doesn’t work out Zawad?” – “Are you sure you want to do this?” – “You’ve got a sure thing going on for you here” … etc.
“EVERYTHING is about to change, my friend. Everything we think we know, will be flipped upside down, and then turned inside-out, and then thoroughly shaken… and then smeared with jelly (just out of spite).
And if we don’t make bold, inspired decisions right now, with our hearts; if we succumb to the fear and uncertainty that our trusty brains are dishing out night and day, then we will drown. Or even worse: Become irrelevant.”
I was about to step into the brilliant, immersive, challenging world of Educational Tech.
But like most times in my life when faced with that fork in the road, I felt perfect clarity. There was no fear.
I could see, that trapped in the cavernous belly of COVID 19, the entire world would have to learn to re-invent their fundamental assumptions around how education and training is delivered.
Now, more than ever before, was the time to explore immersive Education Technology.
And my gut said there would be nothing but rewarding, inspiring and prosperous times ahead.
SPEAKING of education and training, I wanted to share the experience of my own induction process at Global Vision!
Now remember, I had ZERO knowledge of this industry. Nada. Zip. Not even a whisper.
And: There was not much room to bask in the usual “Honeymoon period” one associates with a new job. The role had been vacant for a little while. Tasks had been piling up for months. I needed to hit the ground running.
AND: being in a state of lock-down, we were all working remotely.
I did not have access to the usual, organic tools of induction.
The teaching hospital scenario.
Being able to observe my colleagues at work.
Being able to sit like the mystified fly on the wall, absorbing through observation.
Evolving through collaboration.
Bouncing ideas in the hallways.
Picking your colleagues’ brains over a knock-off drink on a Friday afternoon.
None of the collective camaraderie that usually plays “midwife” to innovation and original thought.
COVID had taken all that away from us all. And we were all faced with a simple choice: remain stagnant in solidarity as a nation (still in our pyjamas obsessing over things we can’t control); or get creative!
So how did I do it?
I know I’m valued; that I’m allowed to fail and allowed to learn.
I can, however, share some reflections on what was one of the most creative induction experiences I have ever encountered in my working life.
And the answer was so simple! (None of the “10 steps to attaining whatever followed by an e-book download”)
We used video learning in a virtual classroom setting.
Peter spent hours each week, walking me through core concepts and organisational strategy over video meetings.
During these meetings, he used screen-sharing to help me grasp complex software interface functionalities, tutored me on how to articulate said functionalities, discussed business strategy, client retention techniques and opened up about a whole host of other resources. There were plenty of laughs along the way. And I forgot, that during this entire process, he and I had caught up in person, just twice.
He recorded each meeting, and sent me the video after, for me to be able to refer back to.
This was the first time I had gone through an induction like this.
In the past, during face to face sessions like that, I remember having to jot down notes furiously, and still not be able to grasp everything that was covered. Once the training meetings had ended, I’d walked away with the essence of what was discussed, but when weeks went by, the nuts and bolts would always elude me. Would take years of experience to truly get on top of everything I needed to.
Experiencing an organic virtual training session like the one Peter and I did offered a whole new dimension to my learning. I could refer to those conversations any time I wanted to. No matter how much time had passed.
Each session was real discourse. There was back and forth. There was structure. There was life.
When I start to put on more people and start building a team around me, creating videos like this will be INVALUABLE in terms of training future staff.
Near or far; at home or at work; whatever the “new normal” dictates when we all emerge, on the other end of this Russian-novelesque period in our lives… With the use of this technique, I would still be able to replicate that “organic, teaching hospital scenario” with the staff that I will hire and train. No matter where they are.
I will be able to re-create that sense of joy and wonder of the mystified fly on the wall; Capture the conversations had between educator and pupil in real time while discussing complex topics… all through the use of structured, well thought out, recorded video training sessions.
And my staff will be able to revisit them, any time they want, no matter how much years have gone by.
One of these days, the restrictions we are all under now, will have all been lifted.
Couples will be able to fly to Bali over summer break again.
Groups of co-workers will once again embark on epic road-trips over those long weekends where one has to take that “sickie” on the one working day in the middle.
Bars and pubs will spill open on to the pavements on Saturday nights and on Sundays, families will bring out perfect roasts from the oven, with generations crowding around the same kitchen table.
We will come out of this stronger.
And the proverbial chain tying us to our fluorescent-lit desks in downtown office buildings, may be rendered optional forever.
And I, for one, couldn’t be more excited.
(What about you?)