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Boot Camp Dilemma

I have been training at a new job for 5 weeks now. The trainer is not very organized and has put no effort or thought into this process. Many people have been asking me how the training is going. What is a good response? Some of the closer co-workers know it is not going well, but others have no clue. What is a tactful way to answer their question, especially if the person asking is from higher up in the company? Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

A. S., De Pere, WI


Best advice? Don’t say anything disparaging about the training or the trainer, as no good will come of it. At five weeks into your job, you’re not yet in a position to criticize and this isn’t the time to start rocking the boat. The trainer has been there lots longer than you and is probably a person of higher status. In spite of what you think, it’s likely someone at the company thinks the trainer is doing a good job. Unfortunately, from a statistics standpoint, complaining is not likely to get you very far because higher-ups tend to be protected at the expense of the workers doing the complaining.

I’m concerned that you may be treading on thin ice. Your comment about “some of the closer workers know it’s not going well” implies that you already have spoken to some people about your perception of the training. While you may think those close workers have your back and would never do anything to harm you, they may unintentionally let slip what you have said to them. And if those opinions get back to the trainer or your boss, you may find yourself having to explain your complaints. No matter how poor a job the trainer may actually be doing, it’s not your job to talk about it to your co-workers. In essence, what you’re conveying is your opinion, aka hearsay or gossip.

Therefore, non-committal answers may be the best way for you to answer people who ask how the training is going: “It’s tough but I’m getting through it.” Or “Thanks for asking. It’s different than what I expected. I’ll be glad when I can get to work doing what I came here to do.” It really doesn’t matter if the person asking is higher up or not. The answer is still the same.

Once you’ve been at the company for a period of time, say a year, and if you still feel strongly that the training you received was inadequate, then you might approach your boss with your observations and offer some suggestions on how to improve the program, without in any way disparaging the trainer.

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