Snowploughs and CEOs: An onboarding experience, Learning Pool style
Learning Pool’s new learning design manager, Jack Quantrill, reflects on an extraordinary first day and how organisational culture isn’t something that can be downloaded on day one.
The first day
The final hour of my very first day at Learning Pool was a careful drive along a frozen stretch of the A6 between Belfast and Derry.
As the snowploughs set to work clearing a safe path through County Antrim, day one had entered its fourteenth hour, 300 miles had been travelled, one small propeller plane had been delayed and de-iced and I found myself sat beside our CEO.
It wasn’t what I’d expected.
Day one had started typically enough. I was introduced to new colleagues, set up on the organisation’s systems and given a demonstration of Learning Pool’s most exciting recent projects.
As the day progressed and I took on more and more new information, I looked forward to making the short hop across the Irish Sea to the Derry office where I’d be spending the next couple of days.
Travelling with the boss
My flight was that evening; a chance to unwind, gather my thoughts and settle into a good book. Or at least that’s what I thought.
I was about to arrange a taxi to the airport when I was told that Learning Pool’s CEO Paul McElvaney and Chairman Bryan Keating would be joining me.
“Just to the airport?” I asked.
“Yeah, to the airport… and then they’re both on the same flight as you… and Paul will give you a lift across to Derry.”
“Is that far?”
“Just a couple of hours in this weather.”
So just a taxi trip, an airport wait, a flight and an 80 mile drive with two of the organisation’s most senior figures to get through before I sign off for the day then. Sure thing.
Our journey was extended further with news that our flight would be delayed by a snowstorm causing disruption to airports and motorways across the country. This led to an additional hour wait on the runway as two members of airport staff frantically de-iced our small plane.
Despite my initial apprehension, the situation provided me with the best possible opportunity to learn more about the organisation, its history and its direction of travel.
My extended time with Paul and Bryan meant that questions and ideas could be explored in detail and considered carefully – well, we did have a lot of time to kill.
A warm welcome
As I sat at breakfast the next day testing myself on the tangle of colleague names, work processes, acronyms, passwords and documents floating around my head from the day before, I realised I felt that ‘new job excitement’ even more keenly than I had thirty-six hours earlier.
Through the warm welcome of my new colleagues, the useful online resources made available to me and the responsiveness of the organisation’s senior figures to my (frankly) incessant questioning, I got to experience the very best kind of first impression.
Experience, evidence and active application
Whilst it’s not practical to orchestrate a snowstorm, coincidental travel arrangements and accidently extended one-to-ones with the CEO and Chairman for every employee, the experience did prompt me to consider how we typically convey what an organisation is about to our new starters.
I’ve lost count of the number of strategy booklets and dodgy acronyms that have told me how my organisation does business as a new starter. We’re in it together, we’re world-leading, we’re always honest, we put our customers first, and so on.
These statements are meaningless without the experience, evidence and active-application to back them up and, like declaring ‘I’m looking for someone I can trust’ in a dating profile, often serve to betray past issues and insecurities.
We can’t expect a list of bullet points to change an individual’s mindset or prompt them to miraculously assimilate with a new culture on day one. Instead, it’s through the attitude of people and the care taken in bringing us up to speed that we really get our first sense of the spirit of an organisation.
The Learning Pool way
During my extended introduction I got to experience firsthand the Learning Pool way. Beyond the travel delays and unexpected travel companions, what really made that day extraordinary was witnessing an organisation that specialises in learning practicing what they preach.
Online resources for internal staff are practical, easy to access and effective and a real passion for learning and technology was apparent in the conversations I heard around me. It was an introduction planned with care and an experience tailored to me and my new role.
Find out more
As I look forward to my future with Learning Pool I can feel confident that I’ve joined an organisation that puts the learner experience at the very heart of everything they do.
If you’d like advice on how you’re onboarding programme can really capture the spirit of your organisation, get in touch today.
About the author
Jack has been developing online learning for almost a decade. In that time, he has created and advised on learning for organisations as diverse as The Ministry of Defence, Vodafone, DHL, Ofcom, Schneider Electric, RSA, RBS and E.ON.
Having also led learning initiatives for The FA and Boots as an internal L&D professional, Jack focuses on the wider context of learning experiences to ensure that what sounds good on paper makes a positive difference in reality.