WORKPLACE / APR. 03, 2014
version 6, draft 6

Why Your Job Trainer Failed You

When you've been spending so much time trying to get hired, it might come as a surprise to actually land a job. Now comes the next equally-challenging period: the training phase.

It's no secret that a lot of workplaces are terrible at providing proper training. Part of that problem lies in a lack of formal training protocols. Another, less-discussed issue lies in the people who are conducting the training.

When I landed my first big-ticket corporate job, I was thrilled to get started and begin working with other fellow media professionals. I had no idea then that an abysmal trainer would leave me ill-equipped to handle the rigors of the job. When I was one of the first to be laid off three years later in a massive layoff, I was convinced that my poor start with an ineffective trainer was a big factor in me being one of the first out the door.

But back to your new job. Right now go ahead and rejoice about the paychecks that will soon come rolling in the door. If you encounter a few terrible trainers along the way, understand that they may be plagued by one of the following issues. 

First, they may have wanted your job

In some cases, there are only a few trained professionals in each position in the workplace. Those professionals are probably upwardly mobile enough to apply for the other jobs that open up in the workplace, and sometimes, those people will even be the ones to fill the open position until it's filled. Even after pulling extra weight, that person may not end up getting the job. 

If it sounds like a terrible management decision to have the employee who wanted the new job be the person who trains the person who actually got the job, it is. Bad call, yes, but not out of the realm of possibility. It was true in my case, and that person's sullen, uninterested training should have set off a cacophony of alarm bells in my head. It didn't.

The worst of it for you is that you probably won't know about that trainer's career pursuits until long after. Do your best to ignore any snide comments about how your new job is terrible, how you're not good enough, or how they would have done the job better.

They may also be on an ego trip

Some people just like to feel superior to others. This type of co-worker is going to delight in making you feel like an idiot for not knowing the ins and outs of the business after they’ve explained it once -- and badly at that. Unless you're a clairvoyant, don't feel responsible for the things they think you should know already.

Your best approach for this type of person is to not let them get to you. Don't let on that you're bothered by their hostile behavior, and take plenty of notes so you don't have to rely on this person's expertise for long.

Or, they don't know the job either

While it's less malicious than the other motives for poor trainer behavior, it doesn't make it any better for your future prospects. If you're unfortunate enough to be trained by someone ill-equipped to train people, do what you can to find other mentors around the office. Also take anything the ill-informed trainer gives you with a grain of salt.

Finally, remember that it could be worse -- you could get no training at all

While it sounds like an ill-fated business decision, some employers do favor the "to the wolves" option when it comes to job training. If you don't get the luxury of working under someone else's wing for a period of time, take it as a sign of an unorganized workplace. Your only options here are to once again find a co-worker mentor who might pass on some knowledge, or to pore over the employee handbook in great detail during your off time. Then again, this type of workplace probably doesn't have a handbook.

Have you ever been a victim of a terrible workplace trainer? How did you handle it? Your thought and comments below please… 



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