A Month Later, I Still Suck At My Job

Last night, I had a hard time sleeping. Actually, I was struggling to stay awake after an emotionally challenging day at work (I realized quite a while ago that being sad, upset or angry drains your energy, but I’m also starting to realize that being bored or feeling nervous/anxiety drains it, too…I think that’s why I feel so dead when I get home from work). I was trying to watch the NFL Draft, but an hour into it I really just wanted to go to sleep. But I knew I needed more conscious hours away from work. I managed to make it to the very last pick in the first round of the draft (which would be the end of the show for Thursday) and fell asleep before it was announced!

But then I woke up around midnight or so and couldn’t get back to sleep. I actually was awake for over 2 & 1/2 hours, just thinking. In fact, the fact that I couldn’t stop thinking is why I couldn’t get back to sleep.

I didn’t really think specifically about the trying day I’d had, though. I was thinking about how irritated I am that it has been almost four weeks on my new job and I still can’t perform my job on my own or without so many bumps in the road. But I was also bothered because I don’t know if I have reasonable gripes or if I’m the problem.

I’ll list some of them here, and you be the judge:

1) As I mentioned in one of my earliest posts here, I feel more like a receptionist than a network support specialist. There’s good and bad to this, and there are times every single day at work when I am happy that the person on the other end of the line is not calling with a problem. However, the majority of the calls that come in are for someone else and not tech-related. Sometimes, the call will be tech-related, but the caller is asking either for a tech geek with whom they are familiar or for a tech geek with whom they’ve been working on an ongoing issue. Sometimes, people will call and ask to speak to me because we’ve been working on something, and that happens with other tech geeks at work. That’s fine.

But the fact that I primarily redirect calls in general is my issue. I just cannot recall any indication during my interviews by several different people that this is what my job would consist of, let alone consist of it as heavily as it does. Every now and then, this really bothers me–like yesterday–because being a receptionist just is not in my skillset. By that, I mean I am not particularly good at asking who, what, when, where, remembering all of that or quickly writing all that down and relaying it to other people. If this is the majority of what we do, then having that skillset is, uh, kinda important. To top it off, callers sometimes make things harder by talking on speakerphone, using cell phones against a noisy background, not speaking loudly or clearly enough, or speaking with their mouths not well-positioned to the receiver.

2) In close relation to #1, there are too many times when callers are asking for someone who is not where he/she is supposed to be. At least half of the time, this puts in me in a bad position. What happens those times is either the caller will then expect me to help them with something I really don’t know anything about, primarily because I have not been trained on handling those situations, or they express frustration. This partially bothers me for the “I’m not a receptionist” reason. But I also started thinking last night and wondering why so many people seem to be allowed to come and go as they please. It seems as if every day someone is either off or coming in late. Some people just seem to take breaks when they get ready to. Some people, I just have no idea when they are coming to work or if they’re coming to work, which is a problem because people like to demand, “When will XYZ be in?” or “Is XYZ coming in?” or “ABC told me they’d call me back but I haven’t heard from them. I need to hear from them” and blah blah blah, as if I can magically make them appear or force them to return calls. As mentioned in an earlier post, I am basically being forced to answer most calls. So, I’m the main person dealing with this crap.

Another thing about people coming and going when they feel like it is I just cannot ever really see myself being able to get away with the things these people get away with. I can’t see coming in half an hour late most days and no one having a problem with it, calling in several times within one week–especially when I’m the only one who does my particular job duties–disappearing for undesignated smoke breaks several times a day, and so on.  I just have a feeling that if I did something like these things, they’d somehow use it as an excuse to fire me, especially since I’ll honestly probably never be as good at my job as everyone there is at their job because of how I’m trained and because I’m being used outside of my skillset.

3) Speaking of the training method. I have mentioned here that I am not happy with it. To me, it should not take over a month to train someone. I view their training method as very inefficient, given that the majority of the calls are not tech-related, yet this how they expect me to learn my job–by just taking calls.

I have been reading a lot lately about career-related topics, including training employees. One thing I’ve read more than once is that employees really should be given some sort of manual. Even before reading this, I wrote on this blog that I feel my sort of job should have some sort of documentation for how to handle, at least, their most typical situations. I think either a manual or a computer database of some sort would be excellent and would probably have me doing my job on my own by now. And because there is so much down time at work, I don’t see why no one has ever written some sort of documentation for employees. All I was given my first day was a general outline of what my trainer would go over on the first day, most of which had nothing to do with providing support to clients.

Another thing I’ve read is that employers should set expectations for you and let you know what those expectations are. I realized last night that one of my issues with how things are going is that I don’t know where I should be right now in terms of readiness to do my job  or where I’m expected to be. I believe that the key people at my job think that not setting a firm “you should be able to do this by week 3” or “you should know this by week 4” shows their understanding that different people learn at different rates and that there’s not a lot of pressure to be up to speed. But I know there is a point when not being up to speed will be a problem, and an estimate of when that point would be is more helpful than wanting to appear flexible. I have been told by a few people that I’m doing fine, but I have not been told this by any of the people who matter the most and who I’m sure have been communicating with my trainer about my performance. My trainer has told me I’m doing fine. But I also feel that I need to take most things any of the tech geeks say with a grain of salt because of how fake they can be.

4) One of the things I hated about my last job was that most of the people who ran the place clearly had never done the work that their employees do. Thus, they created standards for work that they’d never done, which resulted in unrealistic standards for us. Nothing we ever did was good enough, and we heard it every day in some way, shape or form. The person who hired me at my new job is also someone who does not have a tech background. She is the one I’ve written about who kind of hangs around sometimes, which I feel she does to assess me socially and in terms of my progress in training. Uh…but she doesn’t have a tech background. If she can accurately assess anything, it’s my receptionist skills (which most people can assess), which suck. And how I fit in socially, to me, should not be of her concern. I understand that employers have to worry about employees being unhappy and leaving, and social fit at work can affect that a lot. But so can a need to pay bills.

5) In retrospect, my last job was the best training experience I’ve ever had. In every other full-time permanent job, I believe I was poorly trained. I survived one of those jobs despite that while a lot of other employees were fired, and I became the best employee there. I was fired at the other job. My new job reminds me a lot of the job at which I was fired–from the volume of stuff I needed to learn and was expected to learn by being thrown into the fire immediately, to the “we let people we like get away with a lot of crap” type of vibe. Obviously, these are different people, different jobs. But the parallels still make me really uneasy, especially still questioning whether or not I deserved to be fired or if I am right that poor training set me up to fail.

The biggest thing, though, is several other people have been trained the way I was, as far as I can tell–none of them seem to have a problem with it, including the receptionist issue. On the job where I was fired, the same thing seemed to be true–employees who were hired after I was didn’t seem to have an issue with being thrown into their position right away. I know not every personality responds to one type of training, but it still makes me question if maybe I am the problem…because I believe that I could eventually be considered the problem to my employer based in part on the fact that no one else had my issues.


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