toxic jobs

Personal stories about toxic jobs and workplace woes.

March 12, 2010

tidy girl in messy job

Betty is 19 and found her first job through an agency which put her on a course in coding and guaranteed her a placement. Unfortunately the placement turned out to be a square peg in a round hole type job - it was a bad fit for her.

"I'm a tidy girl and this is a really messy job!"

"I've been in this job for three months now and I'm still technically in training," says Betty, "but there’s no designated trainer, nobody knows what they're doing - although everyone claims to know it all - and there’s nothing in manual format to standardize the work."

She has been bombarded with information from co-workers - much of which conflicts, or is totally unnecessary - and because she is prevented from doing her job properly she feels miserable and incompetent.

"My mom tells me not to despair," says Betty, "but I didn't expect a job to be anything like this. Most of my co-workers are very much older than myself but I am not experiencing reverse ageism."

"On the contrary," says Betty, "the company and staff bent over backwards to make my commencement pleasant."

"There was a week-long induction program that had me learning the detailed history of the company from its inception in 1898 right through until the present time," says Betty.

"I also got to formally meet every single person in the company from the CEO to the janitor," says Betty, "and I was shown around every nook and cranny in the building in order to familiarize myself with the various departments and what they do."

Exhausted from this exercise, Betty was eager to settle down in her job and get some work done in peace and quiet in her second week on the job.

However, peace and quiet escaped her. In stark contrast to the detailed induction program, her on-the-job training was woeful.

"There was absolutely nobody in charge of training and absolutely nothing documented in writing to give me an inkling of what was going on," explains Betty.

"The two guys on either side of me took me under their wing." laughs Betty. "They were so helpful - but one told me to do this, the other told me to do that. And when I asked a third guy what I was supposed to be doing, I was then told something completely different from what the first two guys had told me. And then all of the guys came over and put in their two cents worth!".

"Everyone was so helpful," laughs Betty, "but the place is crazy!"

Betty is sorely confused and overloaded with useless information.

She would start on something and someone would come over and say: 'No, you do it this way.' Then as soon as she had changed what she was doing, someone else would come over and say: 'No, you do it this way'.

Given this sort of on-the-job training anyone would soon go quietly, if not loudly, insane, and Betty couldn’t understand what was going on.

"The guys are not being deliberately obstructive," explains Betty. "They are all laid-back and don’t seem to care that nobody is in charge and nobody really knows what they are doing."

Being a tidy sort of girl who likes to have everything in order and be in total control of her work, Betty could not believe that after three months on the job she was still none the wiser because nobody really had a clue what they were doing even though they all somehow managed to fill eight hours a day doing something.

She describes the place as complete and utter bedlam and is in the process of quitting and looking for another job.

"Next time around," laughs Betty, "I am going to make sure that I have written into my contract who will be training me, how long the training will last and whether work practices are consistent and detailed in manual format."

"I'm the only one having a problem coping with lack of structure and consistency in the workplace," admits Betty, "so I guess it's a classic case of being a square peg in a round hole."

"I'm looking forward to finding a nice square hole into which I can fit," laughs Betty, "but my mom wants me to give the job at least two years."

"I told her that a job isn't like marriage," explains Betty. "I made no vow to stay with it forever and since I'm starting out in life I want to be learning and doing something constructive so that I can get ahead. At this job, I'm going backwards and feeling incompetent. That's why I've made up my mind to move on."

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