Trial by Fire

The Situation:

The honeymoon period didn’t last through the first week at work. When meeting the Dispatch Supervisor, Colby asked for guidelines for the summary report he was to assemble, the response was. “I don’t have time to tell you how to do your job. Figure it out.”

Putting aside the emotional impact of that exchange, Colby spent the next few hours exploring the database of trucking dispatch records to put together the weekly summary. He did manage to find the file of previous weekly reports in his predecessor’s desk, but the labels in the reports didn’t map exactly on the fields in the data base. Later that afternoon, the Dispatch Supervisor phoned Colby asking, Where’s the report?” He then expressed his displeasure at Colby’s slowness. When Colby delivered the report, he was reprimanded for errors because some of the fields were incorrect.

What’s Happening?

Entering a new workplace community is a major event for new employees. It also makes a ripple of disruption in the lives of others. People who hold critical knowledge may withhold it for various reasons. The group culture may work against sharing energy, know-how, or information. Established employees may want to slow the process of new comers to gain status or benefits as members of a group. At times, there is an historical basis: “No one helped me when I started here.”

Immediate Action

A smooth transition requires a certain amount of energy and attention from others. They may make that contribution because of their generosity of spirit. However, this quality is not universally available. A thorough orientation system as well as accountability for mentoring new employees provides a more solid basis for assuring a positive experience.

What CREW Has to Offer

The forward-looking perspective of CREW helps to develop proactive sense of community.

First, CREW provides opportunities for people to talk about their mutual expectations. Colby’s expectations are not aligning with those of the supervisor. Rather than letting the situation continue until Colby figures it out on his own, the group could learn from this experience of a bumpy orientation experience .

Second, CREW establishes an opportunity to reflect on values. The sink or swim ethic implicit in the supervisor’s behavior may not be something that the group finds desirable for beneficial for its productivity.

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