Falsely Accused By Trainee

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about being corrected: I had to correct a mistake she made started behaving very defensively. She has lied about pinching and slapping my arm.

I have a trainee at my job who at first was willing to listen and learn things, but as soon as I had to correct a mistake she made started behaving very defensively. She has lied about pinching and slapping my arm. Once she fell onto me injuring my neck and arm. She denied that. She frequently lies about things and I don’t know how to handle this problem. She also argues about everything I say to her. How should I handle this?

Signed, Frustrated Trainer

Dear Frustrated Trainer:

You don’t say what kind of work setting you are in, but surely there is someone around the area when these things happen. Also, your message implies your managers have believed her stories, which says they think YOU have lied. So, it seems to me there is much more for you to deal with here than the trainee’s actions.

Consider some of the following ideas and see if you can adapt them to your situation:

1. Write a memo to your own supervisor in which you express your concerns about how this trainee is behaving and how the training experience is working out. Emphasize prior successful training you have done, if that is the case. Say that you want to be able to train people, but this situation is ineffective. I think it would be good to say that particularly concerns you is that she is not learning well and you don’t want to be considered responsible for that. At some point I would think you would want to find out how your manager feels about your truthfulness in all of this!If there is someone responsible for overall training, maybe that person can be a resource or assistance as well.

2. You might want to ask your supervisor to audit some of the training to see if you are teaching in the way they want, and to see if the trainee approaches it differently when a boss is around.

3. You’ve already had bad experiences, but you may want to start into a new phase of your relationship with your trainee and say that you want to start over with a better understanding of how you are going to treat each other: You will treat her with dignity and respect and not talk down to her. She can ask for clarification of your instructions or she can ask how to do something, but she can’t show her anger and she can never, never pinch you, hit you or do anything else of a physical nature to show her displeasure or frustration. Make your conversation serious and businesslike, then get back focused on training.

4. If she ever slaps or pinches you again, immediately get up and go to a supervisor and tell him or her what happened. It would seem to me that you could avoid that kind of physical contact by being alert for it and stopping her, but if that’s not possible at least report it immediately.

5. If you can do so without being penalized, ask if you can be assigned someone else and let this person go to another trainer. I hope those thoughts will be helpful to you. If you have the time and wish to do so, let us know what happens.

Tina Lewis Rowe