Tip #115: Employee Orientation

When an organization experiences a merger or when divisions within that organization need to intermesh, both seasoned as well as new employees may require an orientation to the new situation. Not only do they need to understand the new interrelationships, they also need to understand the separate functions and services provided by the contributing organizational components.

In 1999, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation determined that three divisions had an integral relationship that needed to be made clear to new employees. As a result of the needs assessment, a two day program was created by a wonderfully creative team of representatives from each of the three divisions. Here are the learning objectives and the activities for the morning of the second day. The activities are underlined.

Title: Intermodal Interactions

Workshop Description: Using interactive exercises, this two day basic orientation session is designed to acquaint the participants with the three modal divisions and how they interface with each other. On the first day, the focus is on what it means to be involved in an intermodal division partnership. On the second day, the focus is on the variety of functions and services provided by the three modal divisions.

Day Two: Getting to Know the Modal Divisions

Learning Objectives: During this session, the participants will:

  1. identify the three different modal divisions;
  2. explain the key functions and services of each division;
  3. explain how to locate necessary divisional resources;
  4. participate in key division activities;

Lesson Plan/ Methods:

Total Length: 6 hours

Objective Methods

8:30 Welcome (15 minutes)
As the participants walk in, they are given new seat assignments- to create an intermodal “team” with new people. They introduce themselves to each other. Introduce the session format, schedule, objectives, and trainers.

(a) 8:45 Recognizing the Variety of Services (30 minutes)
The participants work in their new intermodal “teams” to organize clippings and pictures from a central “work basket” by division and even by bureau, referring to divisional brochures. They tack the appropriate clippings and pictures onto a felt board under the appropriate division column: DTD, DTIM, and DTID. (15 minutes)

Drawing from each “team,” make a list of the activities and services provided by each division- using three different flip charts, one for each division. (15 minutes)

[Goal: Reinforce what the participants have already learned about the diversity of services provided by each modal division.]

(b) 9:15 Sorting Out the Players: DTD (20 minutes)
(c) Individual participants complete a questionnaire regarding key points about DTD. (5 minutes)

[Note: These key points would include:

  • links to local government
  • non-highway responsibilities
  • size and geographic arrangement
  • level of financial responsibility
  • concept that it is not possible to build our way out of transportation problems
  • responsibility to external entities
  • functional responsibilities of each business area
  • critical role in supporting the economy
  • diversity of public served ]

The deputy administrator directs a group discussion of their findings and conclusions. (15 minutes)

[Goal: Expand the perception of DTD as doing more than highways, by increasing awareness of the scope and diversity of services provided by the four business areas.]

9:35 Break (10 minutes)

(b) 9:45 Sorting Out the Players: DTD (20 minutes)
(c) The “teams” complete a matching exercise, in which they try to match one column of duties with the correct DTD business area. Whichever team gets the most correct answers wins a jar of M& M’s. (15 minutes)

[Goal: Reinforce learning about the services provided by the four DTD business areas.]

The participants then highlight with yellow marker the key programs, staff names and phone numbers on the division brochure. (5 minutes)

[Goal: Ensure a useful reference source.]

(d) 10:05 Playing on the DTD Team (25 minutes)
The teams review a case study of a regional transportation plan, in which they act as DTD district office staff faced with looking at where growth is expected and what transportation system changes are needed to meet them. Each team will consider what should go into the regional plan to make it useful, considering the different perspectives of the various locals and the need for compromise. (10 minutes)

The teams report out their findings and conclusions, for general discussion. (15 minutes)

[Goal: Experience a typical DTD activity that reinforces key concepts regarding the complexity of decision making involved in developing and maintaining a transportation system- as well as the need to be able to compromise rationally in order to achieve objectives.]

10:30 Break (10 minutes)

(b) 10:40 Sorting Out the Players: DTIM (20 minutes)
(c) The deputy administrator provides a brief overview of the responsibilities of DTIM, using balls or koosh balls of different colors and sizes among the participants to illustrate the complexity of the finance planning cycles, and the different expectations and constraints of the players involved. (10 minutes)

[Goal: Provide a visual metaphor of the difficulty of keeping all of the “balls” in the air, since each funding source has a different scope and time cycle.]

Walk the participants through the division brochure, having them highlight with yellow marker the key programs, staff names and phone numbers. (10 minutes)

[Goal: Ensure a useful reference source.]

(d) 11:00 Playing on the DTIM Team (45 minutes)
The teams are given a fact sheet regarding how the transportation fund is sliced up in the budget process. Then, within their teams, the participants assume the roles of different interest groups (such as the rural legislator, the county board chair, the director of the road builders, and the advocate for the elderly and handicapped, etc.) Their goal is to slice up the transportation fund to meet the interests of these various groups. (30 minutes) Directed discussion of their decisions and conclusions. (15 minutes)

[Goal: Reinforce the complexity of the transportation fund, including the 41 different programs covered by the fund and the dynamics involved in slicing up the fund in the budget process. Also, provide increased awareness of other perspectives.]

11:45 Lunch Break (60 minutes)

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