General Etiquette > All In A Day's Work

Being trained

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A coworker of mine is taking some time off, and I've been asked to fill in for some of her work.  Boss suggested that she would work up a plan and a schedule of what I needed to learn before she leaves.  Unfortunately neither has happened.

What has happened is she appears at my desk at random times that suit her, expecting me to drop things to go through her work. I have no idea of what I will be covering, or how long it will take to learn.  I have asked her to put something in the calendar daily for us to meet, she doesn't want to. I've asked several times for any documentation about the system, regular tasks, problems (this is an IT job, involving some user support).  She's said 'oh yes' but I've received nothing so far.  None of this suits me.

So without going to boss at this stage (this is the first week, going to boss would be considered overreacting) how do I get those points across?

Maybe you could come up with the schedule.  For instance, you could send her an email saying something like, Hi Coworker, Ive blocked off 2-4 on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays for our training sessions.  Let me know if that schedule works for you or if you need to make any adjustments.

Do you use Outlook? You could see when she is free and just create an appt.

if that doesn't work, then create an email like below. For you, it is best to take charge. You might think, why do I have to take charge if she is the one taking time off?  Because you will look bad if you don't do well.  She will just come back and look needed.  Also, she may or may not like to share her duties, or she might just be busy.  In any case, by taking charge, you will look good to your boss.   Like the above poster said, just make some appts and let her tell you to change them.

To: Coworker
Cc: Boss

Subject: Cross Training


Thanks so much for meeting with me yesterday regarding cross training. It think it would be best if we could meet daily and part of that time could be me shadowing you as we continue the training.  A regular meeting time would work best so I can continue to perform my own regular work duties.

I would like to request that you provide the system documentation (or a link) so I have a reference as we go along.  Next I think it would be good if you could give me a list of regular tasks that you do and we could go over how to do them. Finally, a list of common user problems and how to solve them. 

I know it is a challenge for both of us {here you are reminding her that you are helping HER because she is taking time off and not just making work for her} to fit this in with our regular duties {Yes, i have a job too!} but I am confident that we can make this work if can get on a regular schedule using a plan {echo whatever words your boss used}.  Looking forward to learning more about IT!

I like Bopper's idea.  It's polite, yet direct, and will allow everyone to be on the same page.

Also, when I went on maternity leave, my boss, the coworker covering for me, and I had a meeting to make sure we all knew what was going on.  I made a weekly schedule of duties and gave a copy to both my coworker and boss, so that there wasn't any confusion.  I made it up to look like a calendar and laminated the darn thing.  Our office doesn't use outlook for scheduling, so unfortunately we just had to squeeze in times to go over things, but I made darn sure that I had given out a concrete list of duties and that my coworker told my boss (in person, in front of me) that she was confident that she could complete them. 

I feel your pain though - I had the same issues when I took over my job!  The clerk who was leaving barely trained me and I was paranoid that there was some hidden part of the job that I didn't even know existed!

I really like Bopper's email.

Another thing you can do is create lists and instructions from what she does manage to tell you. Then email them to her, CCing your boss.

"Dear Co-Worker:

Attached is a list of job responsibilities and regular tasks that I've put together based on what you've told me. Please check it over and make sure everything is included.

I still don't have access to the system documentation or standard problem-solving techniques. Can we discuss these at our next meeting? I'm free Monday from 2-4 or Wednesday from 10-11."

Or something like that.

Sometimes you just have to take control of the situation, if there is going to be a positive outcome. Your co-worker may get upset with you, but them's the breaks. If she isn't giving you the time or info you need, you can't just sit back helplessly waiting for it.


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