The above signs are usually erected at the school entrance. These are the signs that a new member of staff reads as he / she first enters into your institution.
As the head of an educational institution, you will always find yourself receiving new staff members into your school. This applies to both teaching and non-teaching staff. These new staff members will have been interviewed, recruited and deployed by your employer, that is, the Public Service Commission (PSC) and the Ministry of Education or the Responsible Authorities in the case of non-teaching members of staff.
The new staff would have had very little chances, during the interview, to find out more about the organisation and the job that he/ she will be expected to do. When he/she arrives at the station, the new member of staff will have a small idea (basing from his /her training) of what the job involves and how he/she is expected to tackle it.
The new staff member will not be aware of the new knowledge and skills that he will have to develop. The new member of staff will not be aware of the results that are expected from him/her by the institution he/she will not be aware of the problems that he will come across and how he will be expected to solve them. The member will not be aware of the people to turn to for any help he may require. The member will also be wondering about his/her colleagues` attitude towards strangers. The new member will have very little or no knowledge about the geography of the area. He/she does not know what happens here or there, who does what and why that happens here or there, who does what and why and when. The new staff member has to find out more about the school’s rules and regulations. The new member will also be unaware of the traditions in the area (this is very important issue in rural areas). The member will also be ignorant of the politics and pressures in the area. The new member will not be aware of the sort of behavior that the community expects from him / her. This is the new member who comes into your office for the first time and hands an introductory letter form the employer. He/she will be in a new and strange environment.
New members of the staff will need some thorough and well-planned orientation so as to make them competent and confident members of your team.
Do not underestimate the importance of orientation
Heads often underestimate how much a new member of staff has got to learn. The new member will have a heavy learning load during the first few weeks and months at the station. The following suggestions will attempt to highlight the important issues that the new staff member should be made aware of. The head may assign his/ her deputy or a very senior member of staff to help the new recruit.
The most important aspects that the new member of staff should know about involve the job that he/she is expected to perform. The new member should be made aware of the Vision and Mission of the institution. He/ she should be able to answer this pertinent question.
The member should be made aware of the strategic objectives of the organization and what he/she is supposed to do in order to achieve these objectives. He/ she should be made aware of the core values of the institution. Once this is done, the new member will have been shown the way. Proverbs 29:18 states, “where there is no vision, people cast of restraints.” This clearly means that if the new member is not aware of the vision of the vision/ mission and objectives of the organisations he will be like a bus driver whose bus has no destination. He/ she will be a demotivated person. The new member should be made aware of what role he/she has to play in order to produce the expected results. If the new staff member is a teacher, he/ she will have to show how to draw up schemes of work and prepare lesson plans. The head can assign the head of the department or senior teachers to assist the new member. The member should be made aware of the departmental requirements. The member should be made aware of the quality and quantity of work expected from the students. The new member should be made aware of the duties he has to perform and how the fit in with what other people would be doing. He/she should be made aware of what skills to be developed in the students. There is also need for the new member to know more about the equipment he/she will be using, if any.
In the science laboratory, there is a lot of equipment to be used. Some schools have lap tops, film projectors, cameras etc. The new member should be trained in the use of such important equipment. This will safeguard the new member and students from danger and will also ensure that the equipment is not easily damaged. The new member should be made aware of what decisions they should take and to whom to go for specific decisions. The new member should be made aware of what goes on in the department where they will be working.
The new member of staff should also be made aware of what the head expects from him/her. There is also need for the new member to know how to approach the school head and how he/ she should address him/her. The new member should also be made aware of the interests and attitudes of other members of staff. There is also a need for the new member to know the senior members of the institution and how to approach them. He / she should be made aware of the kind of interests they have and how they would expect the new member to behave and act towards them. The new staff member should also be made aware of what they can contact their seniors for. It is also important that the new member know the top managers in the institution, their names and positions and where they are stationed. There are some teachers who do not know the names of their Schools` Inspectors, Districts Education Officers, Provincial Education Directors, Permanent Secretaries, Ministers of Education and their deputies. It is the responsibility of the head to acquaint his new staff members with the names of key persons in the organisation. The new staff member should know how to recognise and address them.
The new staff member should be made aware of teacher associations and unions like ZIMTA, PTUZ and others. In the case of non-teaching staff, the member should be made aware of the existence of Workers Committees and the National Employment Councils. The new member should know the representatives of these associations and unions and what they are interested in. The new member should be made aware of the powers of these organisations and their relationships with other staff members and the employer. The new member should be made aware of the issues on which these unions can be contacted for. The new member should also be made aware of the grievance-handling procedures in the organisation and all the channels of communication in the organisation.
The new staff member should also be acquainted with the image of the organisation and how it can be upheld. There is, therefore, a need to make the new member aware of the policies and ethics of the organisation. The new member should be made aware of the standards of dress required and how the member should deal with the public and even the media in order to maintain the good image of the institution.
The new member should also be made aware the condition of service that affects them. They should be made aware of the various types of leave that a member may apply for. They should also be made aware of other benefits that the organisation may offer its members for example housing benefits, medical benefits and car loans. The new member should be made aware of how they can be promoted in the organisation and the various promotion posts available to them.
It is very crucial that the new member be made aware of the rules and regulations of the organisation. The member must be aware of the behavior expected of him/her. If this is not done, the member may find him/herself in a very difficult situation.
A career comes to ruin
When I was a District Education Officer in one of the districts, we deployed a young and very intelligent university graduate teacher to one of our secondary school. In an introductory note to the head it was stated that they young teacher be oriented. We later discovered that the head had not been properly oriented. During the second term, this young teacher fell in love affair with a Form 3 student. When this love affair was discovered, the young teacher was charged for misconduct. When he appeared for disciplinary hearing, he was asked why he had proposed love to a school girl. He told the disciplinary committee that he loved the girl and was prepared to marry her. He told the committee that he was unaware of the fact that he had already violated the regulations and that he had committed an offence. He told the committee that he really loved the girl and that he was prepared to suffer. The disciplinary committee found him guilty and recommended that he be discharged from the service. His career was ruined at its infant stage. Ignorance has no defense!
The head was responsible for the suffering of this young man; the career of this young teacher. In the book of Ezekiel 33:7-9, the word of the Lord states quote, “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear that I speak and give them warning from me. When I say to the wicked, ‘you wicked person you will surely die’, and you do not speak out to dissuade them their ways, that wicked person will die for their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. But if you do warn the wicked person to turn from their ways and they do not do so, they will die for their sins, though you yourself will be saved.”
The heads should, therefore, be proper watchpersons for the subordinates so that their sufferings are not blamed on them. If the head had oriented the young teacher on the Public Service Regulations, the career of this young person could have been spared. The new staff member should be shown around the institution so that he/ she is aware of the different offices and the people who work there. He/ she should be able to find his/her way to these places.
The new member of the staff should be made aware of where he/she can get some medical attention. He / she can also be advised of where they can buy groceries at reasonable prices. It is also important for the new member to know where and how to get essentials like water. The member can also be made aware of the modes of transport used in the area and when and where they are available.
It is very important that the new member be made aware of the customs and norms of the people around the institution. There are some places where a male cannot just shake hands with any female he meets along the road. In certain areas, some types of dressing are not recommended. Induction on such issues will go a long way towards the limitation on necessary clashes.
Induction cannot be completed in one day so it should be on going. Learning by accident will not be good for the new member. It is the poor manager who expects the newcomers to pick out things for themselves. Induction should be systematic and well-planned. In the final analysis, the head is responsible for the new subordinate’s induction.
The writer is a retired educationist who served in the Ministry of Education for over 40 years. He was a teacher (1966-1974), school head at Nhamwi St Stanislaus School (1975-1984), DEO Chivi North (1985-1987), Chivi District Staffing Officer (1987-1993), Zaka Education Officer (1993-1996), Chivi Education Officer (1996-1999), Gutu DEO (1999-2008) and Reformed Church in Zimbabwe (RCZ) Education Secretary (2008-2015).
The writer can be Contacted on 0784 949 878