schuber_possumI once had a possum on my sorting line.  Weird way to start an article I know but bear with me.  The possum had come in the back of a garbage truck with a load to my transfer station.  Who knows how he got there, one can only guess it was in the container when the truck picked it up.  Probably in the middle of snacking on whatever discards it had found and was now enjoying its meal fit for a king. Then WHAM its bouncing along the road in the back of a front loader with no idea what just happened.  Then, as quick as it was scooped up, it was ejected out on the floor the transfer station.

The material looked to have promise so it was sent up the sorting line for hand sorting.  The walking floor walked the material into the belt along with our friend the possum, and then up to the end of the belt end over end onto the shaker table.  This is where I caught up with him, as he cruised by the surprised staff, who, once they realized what was going on, jumped back in disbelief, he sat on his rear end like a kid on a pony ride outside a KMART.  All the while looking to the left and right as if to say “hi” to each and every startled sorter he passed.  Then; finally dropping off the end of the shaker table into another series of belts taking him back to the tipping floor and onto another truck bound for new and exotic locals (the landfill).

It reminded me of recent onboarding of new staff.  As with many of you we have been in a slump where hiring was just not going to be part of what we were doing.  We all got very good at doing our, and in many cases others, jobs.  So much so it was apparent the thought of taking time to identify the new person or help them make the transition to their new environment can be difficult.  I recently hired a new person who was given the onboarding welcome and orientation at city hall.  They did a great job and then they sent him over to me.  The look in his eyes was not unlike my buddy the possum as he watched in amazement while people worked, but not fully understanding his function in all of it.

As with the possum he knows what he is capable of but does not see his opportunity to proceed nor has he become acclimated to his surroundings enough to take action. In some cases if we don’t recognize the needs of the individuals in our organizations they simply ride the ride to the end and we lose them.  We take a lot of time and spend a lot of money to scout, hire, train, and ultimately develop people as contributors in our organizations.  Developing a coaching schedule with regular follow ups can help stop the ride and get our new people ready for the challenges we throw their way.  We are also then able to fully indoctrinate people to our culture all the while getting a fresh perspective of what they are seeing as a new person.  This really helps us identify our “broken windows” and wipe away the scotoma’s formed by not having fresh perspective.

No animals were injured in the writing of this article!!

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