If you have worked in corporate America, the Federal Government and State Governments or the Military in the past 20 to 30 years you probably have gone through a program of orientation or indoctrination upon being hired or transferred by a corporation or government agency. Now if you are completely new to an organization such classes are important in understanding the corporate or agency mission, culture and priorities. These programs also stress things that the organization has determined to be essential in a new employee’s understanding of how the entity does business and standards of practice, personal conduct and other items that may be required by accrediting commissions or by law.
Such programs tend to last 2 days to a week and can be incredibly detailed or filled with myriads of small topics that tend to blend together before a day is over. This is what I refer to as “Borientation.” I have worked in the military and in other state or local government agencies for nearly 30 years. Each time I have being hired by a new organization or transferred within the military I have gone through some form of Borientation process. These types of classes have been around for years but with every passing day some new law, regulation or discovery that something that we have been doing for years is too unsafe, unethical or enjoyable to be allowed in the workplace or anywhere else the organization can sink its paws into. This aside Borientation is deemed essential and almost everyone requires it.
If you are new to an organization, like in never had a job in your life kind of new or been locked away in a cave for the past 20 years you will certainly receive a fire hose blast of information that will make your head spin like Linda Blair in the Exorcist. However after a while in a business, government or military culture the Borientation process becomes rather mind numbing. It’s not that there is anything wrong with the information and many times nothing wrong with the presentation but it is rather that after 10 or more years in an organization Borientation becomes a painful experience because with the exception of a tweak here and there most subjects are pretty much the same. It’s like watching reruns of the most boring PBS and BBC shows or really bad sitcoms for the 100th time except they are presented in marathon format and presented in classrooms where the employees sit in uncomfortable chairs in glaring fluorescent light with poor acoustics.
Since I have over 30 years experience in such environments going back to my pre-military days I can pretty much summarize 80% of what is covered in these classes in about 5 minutes. Heck if I was God I would let the old guys and gals that have been in the organization for years get the “Cliff Notes” version of orientation, just what has changed since the last time they did it or what was not part of previous orientations.
As for me I don’t do well in seminars or classes that go on hour after hours in the same place providing information that I have been provided in person and online for years and years and years, and dare I say…years. I actually have a physical reaction in these classes because I do my best to stay awake and attentive in order to at least respect the good people doing the training. Now I keep my laptop with me to take notes to help me stay awake and take note of things that have changed or are new that are important. I also keep a couple of news sites and Facebook running in the background if even the note taking becomes too tedious. But even doing this and fortified with major doses of caffeine I often feel my face and head going numb. I am not kidding it is like one of those old Star Trek or other science fiction flicks where aliens attach themselves to people, on Star Trek TOS the guys in the red shirts on the away team. It is like the life is being sucked out of me. Now I don’t know about you but looking around the room and talking to other seasoned folks during breaks I am pretty sure that I am not alone. Please know I am not against orientation but rather Borientation. I have had to teach my fair share of these courses and I try desperately to get just the right information out quickly and with some humor because I know that the people that I am victimizing probably have 20 other presenters who will not do this.
Thus I try to see the humor in everything during the classes and afterward sometimes finding perverse pleasure in the Dilbert comic strips. At the same time I am forced to wonder with the continuous expansion of Borientation programs and re-boreintation programs due to more and more regulations from either the government or accreditation commissions that we have reached the culminating point where we actually begin to lose ground in trying to gain ground by overloading people with information without adequate time to digest it.
Part of what I fear about Borientation is hurting me if I flip my desk or chair if I fall asleep. This mind you is not an unfounded fear. I remember back in seminary after lunch having my Philosophy of Religion professor do a lecture about philosophic and religious themes in artwork. To do this he showed us hundreds of slides on the old slide carousel, no Power Point back then. Well lunch had settled in my belly and as the majority of my blood supply went to digest the hamburger that I had consumed I found myself struggling to maintain conciseness eventually losing the battle against the “Z Monster” flipping my desk in front of the professor who didn’t miss a beat and continued to the next slide and I hastily recovered, righted my desk and got back into it as my classmates, many awakened from their naps by the loud crashing noise laughed their assess off.
So until the next time,