Friday, January 14, 2011

new guy and getting it

There's a basic concept of "getting it" that I think most people have an inkling of, but have a hard time clearly expressing. It's the idea that someone understands the basic mechanics of what is going on in the environment around them and how to participate in said environment. At work it means understanding what the business does, how you contribute, and generally what in the world you're supposed to be doing.

My experiences, at first glance, make me think most new employees just don't get it. I've seen my fair share of new engineers, supervisors, operators, etc and it doesn't give me a warm, fuzzy feeling for the future of the world that so many people are apparently idiots. But, this is merely at the first glance. As I have partially learned a skill known as 'patience', my older and slightly wiser self has realized that a very basic idea: New people are new and need guidance.

Hardly shocking, isn't it? However, in a work environment like mine which is rather scripted in the beginning, this needs to be clear. New people need that script. They need to know what safety training they need to complete on their own or should be given by others, they need to know what technical and operational modules to complete, when to come in, when to go home, where to stand, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

Our new guy arrived right as I was going on vacation last month. Suffice to say, my return found that he had not been properly mentored in my absence and this made me sad. (I have a running joke with someone here who I need to get reports from. When I don't receive them in a timely manner, I tell him that it makes me sad to not receive the XYZ report.) Actually, it made me frustrated and angry, both with the new employee and the people who he had been entrusted to learn from. For now, I have pocketed my anger because, while it stirs the heart and takes names and kicks ass, it does not actually get the task at hand done. That task is mentoring. This new guy is new. He needs to be shown where he can find resources and how to use them.

When he first came to me two weeks ago, I was appalled by the lack of progress on his part which I thought reflected on his poor initiative, work ethic, or both. Yes, I'm confident he could have done more, but this was a greater failing on the part of our team, including myself to not ensure he had a capable mentor while I was away. Now that he's on his feet, he's got a couple more weeks to turn things around and demonstrate that he is going to make it. Soon enough, he'll sink or swim.


Anonymous said...

This won’t be your first or last encounter with this type of situation. People like to be led by the hand or even both hands. This way they don’t have to take responsibility if anything goes wrong. This is not a high learning institution or a lab that people want to be the next Bill Gates. They are there to make a living. Why not put in the hours and go have a drink at the end of the day.

It is a very unfortunate situation, but it is the way of life for many workers, especially the workers who receive the same pay for the same job description. The job performance and end results can vary from excellent to unacceptable. The word "initiative" is not in their vocabulary.

angst said...

When work becomes chore and no longer fun, it's time to reassess!