Not Enough Information To Complete Tasks Properly

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about inadequate training:

I became employed at my job three weeks ago, and I have been having issues there pretty much since my second day. I work in a store at my local mall. I’m part of the price support team, which means that I make sure that clothing prices get marked down every week. I like the actual responsibility of doing that task, but I do not like the way in which I have been trained to carry out the tasks that are expected of me.

My first day working, the employee who is in-training to become the leader of the price support team, showed me and a couple of other new employees, how to use the pricing gun and how to find the pieces of clothing that need to be marked down. Basically, each employee in the pricing team gets a form every morning that lists the section of the store in which he or she will be working and the specific brand names and pieces of clothing under those brand names, that need to be marked down for that week. So I thought that was easy enough to follow.

However, in the days following this, I realized that the employee who had explained this information, did not go into any detail about how to read the information on the screen of the pricing gun or how to read any of the notations that are listed on the form assignments that the price support staff receives at the start of our shifts. I find that an explanation of this information is needed, because without any explanation, my ability to carry out the task effectively becomes more difficult. Since I have started working there, I have tried to ask questions in order to get some clarification on what exactly I need to do in order to do my job effectively and also what exactly is expected of me. I feel like I have been learning everything on the fly.

I also feel uncomfortable asking the leader-in training any questions, because she seems to have an attitude of “you should already know this” or “I already told you that”. Her style of explanation is to say things in short-hand or rather “short-speak” and fully expect me to understand exactly what she is talking about even though I am a new employee and am not yet familiar with the “lingo” for certain tasks.

I would much prefer a typed or at least a written instructions about how to carry out the tasks so that I can refer back to it if I need to do so, instead of her simply telling me something one time or not giving me enough detail and yet still expecting me to understand what she means. She never hesitates to approach me throughout my shift to ask me about my work progress and to subtly remind me that I am not going fast enough, but yet when I try to ask her questions to clarify what I need to do, she gets an attitude.At first I thought that I was the only one having issues about how to carry out my tasks, but there is another new employee who started the same week that I did, and we have discussed the lack of information and she has let me know that she has been having some of the same issues when trying to complete her tasks.

Signed, Once Is Not Enough

Dear Once Is Not Enough:

We don’t expect those who write us to sign their real names, so we often assign one for them. Did I give an appropriate signature for you? Your frustration is understandable. It is an understatement for me to say that being told once was not enough when I was being taught how to dance. I know that because since last summer I’ve been in a zumba dance class two times a week. And if you watch the background clips of Dancing With The Stars, you have seen those “stars-would be dancers” often are close to tears and/or are frustrated with their partner instructors.

Once is not enough. Soooooooooooo what might you do to get the kind of instructions that you need from your “in-training to become the leader of the price support team”?I doubt that you will get written instructions. It is worth a try to get them printed out; but a new employee hasn’t much clout to add written to a practice that is oral only. However, if your in-training leader gets her instructions in print about brands and price changes, possibly she they could make copies for her pricing team. If she could that might save her time and help insure her assignments are carried out accurately.

Let’s suppose that you or you co-workers make some serious mistakes. I expect that should that happen, your in-training leader would be persuaded to consider ways to make instructions clearer. Very likely she is abrupt about how she responds to questions because she has not learned how to answer them most effectively. One of the practical principles of giving instructions effectively is to remember that misunderstanding is the rule and understanding is the exception. Learning that understanding is rare and misunderstanding is common tells us to communicate effectively means that we shouldn’t think that once is enough.

Unfortunately, your store management has not taught that lesson to your in-training team leader. Therefore, can you? Or can you get a co-worker to join you in talking about your need for better instructions? Maybe not, but it’s worth trying. Apparently, this individual, I’ll call Sally, feels threatened by your questioning and/or enjoys the power she wields by cutting you short with store lingo and “get moving” talk. That is not the kind of talk you want or need. How have you reacted to her pained “You should know that girl” talk? Have you shyly taken an inadequate answer to your question as the way it should be?

When the next time this happens, you can bite your tongue or you might say, “Sally, if you want me to do this right, please answer me more completely. Saying what you want once isn’t enough. Learning to do what you know takes a new hire to hear it repeated several times. Do you understand why that is?” Such a brief statement could be the beginning of more effective two-way talk.Also, you could say to her, “Sally, I need a time-out talk with you.” If she says, “Why?” You could reply, “I have the feeling that you don’t how to help me or you don’t want me to succeed at this job.” Hearing that from you might start a time-out talk begin at that moment, or you could meet with her at her workstation or some private corner later that day. In a time-out, you should have three objectives:

1. To assure her that you want to make her job easier and that she will look good if those she leads do their jobs well.

2. To have her understand that you will listen carefully and work conscientiously to what she says, and

3. To help her see that she is a coach and that coaches are good communicators; they have to patiently repeat themselves in order to have their (players) workers follow instructions. You might even use the example of learning how to dance that I used in my first paragraph. Should she not respond well to these suggestions, you will be left with three alternatives, none that I recommend: · Toughen up and realize that supervisors such as your in-training team leader do the best they know. Therefore you must be ever alert to pick up “how-tos” on the job from co-workers.

· Approach Sally’s boss to request better communication. Should you decide to do that, I would tell her.

· Seek a job elsewhere. Sometimes it is better to find another job than to invest too much time in one that makes you feel miserable. New hires often see things that could be improved, and sometimes that is their boss. For now, you’ll have to decide what coping action you will take. The least you can do is to soak up how-not-to supervise. The most you can do is to learn all you can about this business until you find another job. Also for now, see yourself as a cheerleader of those you pass by on the job; one that even can bring a smile and a light to the eyes of Sally. Work is hard enough without seeing your boss as an enemy. Don’t allow that to happen. Think about how might my signature sentence apply to your current job situation: Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS. Finally, I recommend that you click on the name of my associate Workplace Doctor Tina Lewis Rowe that appears on our home page. That will access her site filled with both inspiration and good sense for souls such as you.

William Gorden