Future scenario: starting a new job


Another year, another job. After 18 months in the last job, and a few months looking for work, Sarah is starting into her new role. The firm seems sounder than the last one, and its consumer products are red hot right at the moment.

Starting a new job is never easy. Having had six jobs in ten years, Sarah is getting pretty skilled at getting up to speed, but still dreads the months of learning the ropes before that out-of-your-depth feeling ebbs away.

At least the security guard knew who she was when she fronted up at 8:30 in the morning, and there was even a pass waiting for her. “Go right up to level six, and Peter will be waiting for you.” After the usual “welcome to the business, it’s great to have you here” speech, Sarah settles into her working area.

More minor miracles: Peter was able to give her login details to her PC, and it seems that the phone system already has her listed. A padded box with a mobile phone is perched on one corner of her desk, in amongst a small pile of other useful stuff. (It seems that after Peter signed off her employment, the internal information systems quietly spread the word to IT, HR and Finance, and everything was lined up before she even arrived.)

Her email inbox has a message from Morris, the intranet. Hmm, “welcome to the business Sarah!”, it seems even the intranet is friendly. Firing up “Morris”, Sarah spends a little time familiarising herself with the system she’s expecting to spend a fair bit of time in.

Part of Morris displays the standard corporate links and tools, but the right-hand half of the page seems to be just for her. There’s a prominent box linking her to an induction package, including a few get-up-to-speed videos, some recorded by other staff members.

Included in her online to-do list are a number of induction items, and she expects these will keep popping up over the next few months. Clicking on one of the tasks, she goes into her staff profile, and fills in a few easy details. The rest can wait for a quiet time over the coming week.

Noting that she’s involved in sales and customer service activities, Morris has suggested a few office groups she might want to join. Not today — too much too quickly — but Sarah does click the checkboxes so she can keep an eye on what’s being talked about, before she works out which groups to join.

She’s already been signed up to her local project group, and browses through the profiles and activities of the team members. Seems like there’s a fair bit happening, with a big report delivered last week. Better add that to my favourites.

Sarah’s also been recommended a “buddy” in a similar role, and she reads through their profile. Looks good, let’s have lunch. Now to unpack the mobile.

Having come to her via the IT folks, there’s already a link in her mobile browser to the intranet. It seems there’s no escaping Morris. Firing the site up, a simplified view is presented, focusing on key tools such as the to-do list and corporate staff directory.

There’s also some instructions on how to download a few mobile apps that talk to the company’s systems. One provides a richer version of the staff directory, including full access to the groups, messages and discussions. It seems this is a third-party tool configured for the firm, as it also includes an external feed of customer comments on the social networking sites.

A second application is a lightweight version of the frontline customer service tools. A few staff have also created some informal mobile tools, stitched together from open-source frameworks, but these can wait for another day.

Dragging her focus away from her shiny new toy, Sarah notices that her email application now lists her outstanding tasks, sans those she has already completed. There’s also a small sidebar, which scrolls messages from across the organisation, including from the groups she’s watching.

It’s also interesting to see a selection of customer comments, collated by the call centre or posted to various social sites. “Oh oh, seems like there’s a problem with a product in one of the Eastern European markets”. Actually, I can help with this one, thinks Sarah, there’s a contact I picked up in my last job who might be useful. She posts a response to an internal question, and quickly receives a positive reply. Not bad, maybe I can be useful on the first day.

By the end of the first day, Sarah has connected up to several new colleagues, has approved a few admin requests, and is lined up to attend tomorrow’s team meeting. She’s also had a few people drop by her desk to introduce themselves, and it seems that Morris has been spreading the word that she’s the new kid on the block.

Behind all this, Sarah’s dimly aware that there’s a dozen systems she’s just made use of, but hidden behind the friendly face of Morris, it all seems rather easy.

Principles demonstrated:

So, what have I missed? How else could Sarah be helped to get up to speed in her new job?

James Robertson
James Robertson is the Managing Director of Step Two, the global thought leaders on intranets, headquartered in Sydney, Australia. James is the author of the best-selling books Essential intranets, Designing intranets and What every intranet team should know. He has keynoted conferences around the globe. (Follow him on Twitter or find him on Google+)