Scared To Quit

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about a first job with bosses that humiliate.
I hope I can receive some advice. I’ve read a small article in Ask the Workplace Doctors of someone having similar but different problems in a work environment that are a bit harsh. For a short story I am currently in college and soon to receive veteran benefits for college from my dad’s 100% disability. Before I signed up for that, I was looking for a job to hold out for a bit so I may earn money now to get books for school. I currently work at Wendy’s, I work hard, and I don’t question things my managers tell me to. I was raised to be kind and listen to bosses, and people older than I am. (I am 21).

My first day on the job at Wendy’s I had to be trained by someone but she left before teaching me anything. She had gotten sick. I’ve been working here for a full month and a half. I have been trained by 5 different people who do things in totally different ways. I am still learning buttons on the screen, but recently it seems as though my boss is grilling me every time I do something wrong when someone trained me to do it a different way. My question is: is it right for my boss to get upset with me when I was trained by different people and I not knowing what way is correct or not?

Also I was yelled at by another boss (there are a total of 4 managers). I feel like he disrespected me. She yelled at me in the back of the restaurant in front of my coworkers. I felt humiliated and bullied. The boss yelled at me telling me that I had disrespected her by turning my back to her when she was talking. I did not know what to do. We had a fry person at the fry station and there was lack of communication when they let him/ go home during a major lunch rush. So no fries were down and no one had told me and another front cashier that we had to get our own fries. I felt lost and on top of that she blamed be for making a customer wait 10 minutes for their food when the other cashier person rang them up. I only turned my back because a customer on the other side of me was trying to get my attention and so much was going on I did not have time to think. I did not mean to disrespect her when I thought she was finished talking. The fact that she yelled at me and humiliated me made me feel weak.

I’m not mean to people and I obey what I am told. And I make sure I put forth 120% effort. And I make sure to ask questions if I need help. But it seems 2 of my managers don’t like me because also in the mornings when u work I come in smiling and dancing around as I work to pass the time but am told I needed to tone it down. It’s hard to tone myself down in the mornings because I am naturally hyper all the time but I do get things done.

I apologize if this explanation is very long and time consuming and probably doesn’t make sense. I just really need advice on what to do because I feel bullied by my bosses and I really want to quit, but I’m scared they will put “unable to work with others” or “bad worker” on my reports. I am able to work with other, just not the ones who don’t act like true bosses because a boss is supposed to be the leader of a team. Not a ruler or a prod. There’s no I in team.

Please help me with advice on what to do this is my first job and I know there will always be mean people out there. I just want to find a way to ease my stress.
Please and thank you.

Signed: Scared

Dear Scared:

You describe a typical new employee’s job high stress in a fast food workplace: on the job training by different individuals, bosses yelling when they think something is done wrong, and several bosses, some who take offense in spite of you trying hard to please, distracted when communicating because of pressures from customers and all in all wanting to quit, but fearing a bad report should you quit. I hope this day is not another unhappy one for you, but I expect it might be. So let’s put our heads together to look at how we might find ways for you to cope or to decide that you should say good bye to Wendy’s.

Incidentally, I have done quite a lot of editing of your question and I hope that is in keeping with what you meant to send. As you will learn, should you be enrolled in a writing course or have an instructor that evaluates your papers, to write clearly for most of us requires not only the help of spell checks, but a second or third draft. At least it does for me. Also you are indeed fortunate to receive some help with college due to your father’s veteran disability. So do take full advantage of that. Get training is at least an associate area in which jobs are needed such as nursing, medical technician, and if possible acquire a backup training in other kinds of practical work—ranging from plumbing, electrical repair, etc. This is not to say that the fast food business can’t be one you might come to feel fits you, even as unlikely that might seem to you just now. I have former students in a wide range of businesses and one of them has owned and managed a cluster of Wendy’s in Texas. His goal was to create efficient smooth running systems in which everyone coordinated and that was a fun place to work.

Now let’s think together about what causes the yelling and upset over the way things are running at your Wendy’s. Being able to analyze eframes the way you feel and think about your workplace, and that is a lesson that you can take with you wherever your career path leads. Your system was and is frustrated by failure to train you well. You are right about that. Five different on-the-job trainers results in different ways of operating machines and processes. There was a lot to learn and you needed a notebook to list the steps you were told. More than that you should have been walked through each process several times while a trainer was present and then put on your own. Once on your own a boss should have praised what was done right and what was less than desired should have been corrected.

Since you mentioned that you like to dance while on the job, here is an example that applies to your training and dismay over being corrected: I once paid for a series of ballroom dance lessons. My instructor was an attractive woman in glass slippers. How did that go? Now well. Her half-hour lessons were interrupted by phone calls and each lesson was on a different dance step. What did I learn? I learned how not to teach dance. What a socially deficient customer like me needed was systematic training and redoing the same dance steps again and again. Also I needed to take notes—writing down the sequential steps and having her ok what I thought she was teaching and then to urge her to observe me practicing them again and again. I your case, you now can list the tasks you are expected to have learned and jot down what they are 1, 2, 3. Then check with your boss to see if your notes are correct or should be changed.

Yelling and/or reprimanding an employee in front of coworkers, of course is poor bossing. Once is too much but can be ignored, but a second time should be stopped. How? But immediately, saying something like, “Sally, (or whatever is your boss’s name) I work best when you don’t yell and help me learn what is wrong quietly. I feel humiliated when you correct me in the presence of coworkers or customers. Do you understand?’ Or Sally, stop yelling; we can correct what you don’t like if you can stay cool.”

It is important that you think of your bosses as trying to make Wendy’s successful and not assume they are policing you and your coworkers. Bosses’ job to make a place run smoothly and they are overseeing many operations that can go wrong. Most of the time, when boss get upset, their intentions are good. It helps you to be patient with them when you see their jobs that way. They, just as you do, want to be respected and liked. It’s their job to help you do your work in an efficient coordinated way. And they usually are willing to help when you asked for advice at an appropriate time and when it’s not an appropriate time because so much is going on; you will do the best you can.

One and a half months is still on-the-job learning. Think of it that way and talk with your main boss thanking her/him for what you have learned and ask for an evaluation of what you are now doing. Also say that you want to be a responsible employ and would like to help Wendy’s to be successful. This is also a time to candidly say that you are sorry if smiling and dancing as you work distracts others or comes across and play instead of work. Say it is your way of trying to make the job more fun and that you are trying to tone it down. On your own you can still hum as you move purposefully.

Do these thoughts make sense? Are you now ready to quit or to see what you can do to make your time at Wendy’s a learning adventure? You shouldn’t stay on for fear you might have someone say you are “unable to work with others” or “bad worker.” Early in one’s career, finding a workplace in which you fit is usually a process of elimination. Sure it’s good to stick to a job and not quit too soon. But changing jobs is expected while going to college, which is you main job. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS. Would that you will make where you work a happier place now and as you acquire advanced education, find a life’s work that you can love.
–William Gorden