Room 101 is a room in The Ministry of Love from the book by George Orwell, “1984.” Here the Party breaks down the resistance of prisoners exposing them to “their worst nightmare, the thing they fear most in the world.” Once shattered, they then submit to the will of Big Brother. All across the UK in these first days of August, new hospital doctors are being herded into their very own Room 101. For mandatory training.
Mandatory training is important to new starters in organisations as the bureaucracy requires new staff to be brought rapidly up to speed with various legal requirements as well as transferring large volumes of data to show “compliance.” This is performed by exposing staff to “their worst nightmare, the thing they fear most in the world.” This will be two to three days of having powerpoints read to them, usually by a member of staff who has not written the powerpoint and seldom by a member of staff who has experience in training. At the end of this, the new staff will be broken, the powerpoints will have been read and therefore all training on said topics is assessed as complete.
Staff will be subjected to the dystopian nightmare of Room 101 at least annually for the rest of their careers. Those administering the torture will variously say that The Ministry of Truth has decided that, “there’s no other way to do it,” “it’s not my fault, I didn’t write it,” ” it’s mandatory that we do this.” These apparatchiks take no pleasure in their tasks, the are forced to deliver the message by higher up Party members who firmly believe in the efficacy of the procedure. Staff forced into Room 101 will say nothing. They will stop engaging before the plastic tasting coffee has gone cold in the cup. They will retain nothing. At the end of the session they will be “trained” and “compliant.”
It does not have to be this way. Large quantities of data such as policies, handbooks and guidelines are more efficiently transferred by a document; email it to them. (They may not read it but at least it will be definitely in their possession.) If a “powerpoint” is purely text, it will fail. It will fail even harder if it is simply read out to staff by a colleague who has no emotional investment. It may be mandatory to inform staff but there are better ways of communicating and using that time. Engage them with a message. Explain the need for understanding. Challenge their preconceptions. Welcome them. Don’t simply put them in Room 101.