A reader writes:
I would like to get your advice on an incident at work. I was wondering if this warrants talking to my supervisor and if so, what approach I should take in speaking with her. The incident has left a bad taste in my mouth and I am compelled to search for other employment.
I asked X and Y for help/clarification on a procedure to send out District email mailings. Specifically I was asking what the codes meant on the Widget function so that I can understand what I am doing when I choose the Widget codes for each District mailing.
X and Y came to my desk and explained in a very muddled and hurried way what the codes meant and what needs to be done to implement them. They went to my screen and in a very fast way had me do the steps needed to create the target groups and to exclude the newly created group from the mailing recipient target group. They then told me these steps need to be taken with each and every District (eight of them). They then left with me feeling more confused and bewildered rather than confident that I had been properly trained on a crucial skill I need to do the job I was tasked to do.
1) The questions involved highly technical steps using the fields in the Membership database. I should have been given the steps in a more controlled, deliberate and organized way instead of given a muddled, hurried run-through.
2) They should make it clear that they will follow up and make sure that the steps I took were correct and that I did not make a mistake. They are in charge of the membership database, after all, and any functions that involve using it correctly they should have oversight.
3) Sending out District emails involves a very public way of communicating with our Association members. Any mistakes and technical issues reflect badly on our Association as an organization. The lack of care and muddled way they handled teaching me how to address an important aspect of the District mailings sends the wrong message to me on the care we take in communicating with our members.
4) Finally, as a colleague and professional who they have to interact with day to day, I just feel like I have been disrespected and left to muddle through, by trial and error, a complicated, technical procedure that has implications for communicating with our members. This is very much unnecessary as they could have simply explained to me what needs to be done, asked me if I had questions, and provided any technical assistance or documentation for any technical details beyond my capabilities. Better yet, they could have simply answered my emails and given me the steps I need to do in writing so I have documentation on what I need to do step by step instead of having to muddle through the steps by memory and guesswork.
What I hear in your letter is that you're taking personally something that isn't personal. Would it have been better if they had done the things you suggest? Of course. But most people aren't expert trainers; they muddle through as best they can. If someone who is training you in something isn't giving you what you need, you need to speak up and tell them that you need more help. If you have questions, ask them. If you need to see it demonstrated more than once, ask. If you want to have something in writing to refer to, ask for that (or write down your own notes as you go and ask them to review them for accuracy). If you want them to review your work after you use the new skills for the first time, ask. If you ask directly and still don't get what you need, ask your supervisor if there are other resources available to you to learn the skills needed.
There's nothing in your letter that indicates this was intended as disrespect to you or that it was in any way personal. But what I do hear are very loud alarm bells going off in my head about your attitude, not theirs. I'm going to be blunt here: You can't expect to have everything at work spoon-fed to you, you need to speak up when you need clarification, you can't get offended when people don't know precisely what you need when you haven't asked for it, and quitting over this would signal to any future employer that you're dangerously high-maintenance. Do you really want to be that employee?