Saturday, 18 July 2009

Minister regrets lack of training - induction matters!

Jacqui Smith. former Home Secretary in the UK Government wished she had been better trained for the role. According to the BBC, in an interview with Total Politics magazine:

"I hope I did a good job but if I did it was more by luck than by any kind of development of those skills," she adds.

There has been criticism of the way in which ministers are parachuted into departments, often without any prior knowledge or experience of the policy area, and expected to manage huge bureaucracies and multi-billion pound budgets.

She describes the way ministers are moved from one government job to another in Cabinet reshuffles as "pretty dysfunctional in the way that it works" but adds that it is "not just this government".

She says: "I think we should have been better trained. I think there should be more induction. There's more now than when I started as a minister but it's still not enough. I think there should be more emphasis given to supporting ministers more generally in terms of developing the skills needed to lead big departments, for example."

A poor induction affects employees at all levels of an organisation, not just "leaders". Being dumped "in at the deep end" is a lottery approach (with similarly weak odds) to effective performance and long term retention of staff. Far better to start engaging them at the point of appointment and providing 24/7 support through their first 90-120 days in the role. The only way you can achieve that is through provision of online services that give immediate access to quality learning content, up to date information, and the opportunity to connect with others in similar roles. This can only benefit the individual and the organisation through faster engagement, faster time to competence. This not only saves in training costs (while also improving effectiveness) but reduces the chance of catastrophic error.

I ran a webinar just a few days ago for the Learning and Skills Group on behalf of behalf of Brightwave recently on how learning portals can give new joiners immediate support from the moment they receive their welcome letter - not only can the person immediately start getting prepared, ensuring confidence and motivation levels remain high, but the organisation benefits through less lengthy induction training that when delivered traditionally often lacks context, relevance, personalisation to the individual's needs. Sky, the satellite TV company, are doing some great things in this area, and I'll be demonstrating/speaking about this in more detail for future webinars (let me know if you want details) and in Online Educa in December.

It is astonishing to think that senior government posts are being filled by people who lack the knowledge, skills and experience to do the job effectively from the outset. Unfortunately this is reflected right the way through all organisations, both public and private. And yet effective solutions are staring us in the face.

Surely everyone should be jumping at the chance to dramatically improve their induction and onboarding experience while at the same time save significant sums of money. If ever there was a case of successfully doing more with less, this is it.

No comments: