1. Experiencing the local area through the eyes of the people who live there
I remember starting at Camden and my boss had set me up with a timetable of meetings with key people I needed to speak to — fellow people on my senior management team, key directors and people on the corporate management team. And then came the two-day corporate induction.
The corporate induction gave a strong flavour of what the council was about. We started with the organisational development team giving an intro into how the two days would work, then we jumped into breakfast with leaders from across the organisation where we could ask questions and then we embarked on not one, but two tours of the borough.
The first was a guided bus tour — as a school trip, without the fights, kids getting lost or someone vomiting up their egg sandwich. We visited all the different neighbourhoods. While I’d already experienced being in a traffic jam in Holborn, perusing Camden Town market or checking out a bar in an old toilet in Kentish Town, the tour gave us a spatial sense of how public services interacted with other key players and landmarks in a neighbourhood. Take for example the Swiss Cottage library which is right next to the leisure centre, a local theatre and the high street. That helps you locate what the literal user journeys might be for residents and what opportunities you could create to get people more involved or use the library as part of a network of community hubs.
We then had a guided walking tour by young people from Catch 22 around Kings Cross. Seeing the Knowledge Quarter through their eyes really rooted us in the challenge for this neighbourhood. On the face of it, Kings Cross looks like a very corporate neighbourhood, with Google & Universal sitting side by side the British Library and the Crick Institute. To get how young people perceive and experience this glass-walled area was so important to understand the whole neighbourhood, not just its glossy veneer. The same goes for neighbourhoods that are famous for the wrong reasons, because of stabbings or high levels of crime. I took that experience with me, as we shaped how we take more of a neighbourhoods approach.
2. Induction as a platform for personal development
The two other peoples I remember inductions were very different from each other. At Kent, my induction into management lasted…wait for it…two years! It was a structured leadership development programme that everyone who became a manager had to go on and then got an Institute of Leadership & Management qualification as a result.
The deal was you got dedicated learning & development on different competencies and in return, you had to show how you had applied these competencies on the ground and what you had learnt. At the time, getting evidence for the 60 competencies did feel like a slog, it gave me the disciplined approach I needed to focus my personal development and identify what skills I could consolidate and what I needed to improve.
3. Induction at the heart of the community
At Lambeth what I remember wasn’t the corporate induction, but the local induction I got from the team, where I wasn’t only introduced to people from the council, but more importantly from its local communities, meeting people in the different nooks and crannies (often cafes!) of the borough. What better than going into the basement of a church, a cafe inside a repurposed market or into a shipping container that was due to be turned into a coworking space, to discover the people who would become my allies and partners in crime (not literally!) in bringing to life the cooperative council programme.
What have you found the most helpful from induction processes?
What would you have wished you’d been able to experience during an induction?
How could you improve how you induct new people yourself?