We at Magnus been working with a new employee recently to get him up to speed so that he can work effectively. Because Megan has been with us for quite a few years, I haven’t had to train anyone in some time, so it is an interesting experience to look at our training list and work with someone who is “fresh out of college.” It has been eye opening to see how much has changed in just a few years. The evolution of technology has impacted our procedures, protocols and processes. New things are added, some modified, and some things gone. This process is called “orientation” by some, and commonly today “onboarding.” I’m not sure where, or when, this became the term – probably something Navy related, but it seems to explain the process pretty well. The thing is, the training process, the learning process, is gradual and takes much more time than learning one’s way onto the ship – or the office water cooler. Long ago, we developed a “training list” with topics listed in some semblance of relevance, from day 1 onward. That is, the complexity of tasks increases as the “trainee” starts employment. Our list has evolved and is fairly lengthy. But it can only be a little more than an introduction to the primary tasks for which a new employee is responsible. We have to start somewhere. It is hard to put myself into the shoes, or chair, of our new hire. He has much to learn; I’d expect, considering all that must be learned, that it is a bit intimidating. I know, from plenty of past experience, that there is a steep learning curve because this job is far from a repetitive production line type job. In addition, as employees start a new position, there is at least a 2 dimensional aspect to “onboarding” – one has to do with the specific tasks. The other has to do more with finding one’s place in the organization. Determining if a new employee is a “fit” is a part of the process, and a reason for probationary period. For us, onboarding is an intensive process in which Melissa and I spend considerable efforts and time with a new hire. We want them to succeed; their success benefits us. Yet, it is a distraction from our typical routines and work – and “real work” has to happen regardless of the training list.
No offense to any of Magnus’ wonderful employees, but hiring, training, and supervising employees is my least favorite part of owning and operating a business. I know what I am doing, I always get my work done correctly and on time, and it slows me down anytime I have to deal with the latest issue related to an employee. Megan has been a wonderful employee from the first day she was hired many years ago, and the stress caused by her imminent departure is, to me, sometimes unbearable. What is good for her is terrible for Magnus, but that’s life and I have to expect that no employee will be around permanently. This being said, I had rather do almost anything than train a new employee on tasks that need to be performed in order for this person to be able to help David and me. In the long run, of course, the better David and I are able to train someone, the better he or she will be in helping us perform our work on behalf of Magnus’ clients. But in the short term, it is a distraction from the “real work” I need to perform, such as reading voluminous case documents, writing voir dire questions, and getting ready for my first jury selection since the pandemic closed down the courthouse. Selecting a jury is the most stressful of all the tasks I perform for Magnus’ clients and at the moment when I need to get ready for the big day at the courthouse, I am required to split my time between this important work and training someone. If I fail to train the new employee correctly, from the outset of his or her employment, the end result will be disastrous for Magnus. Thus, training is an integral part of working in a team environment. Call it onboarding or orientation, it has to be done.