Saturday, February 05, 2011

It's hard to be a good new employee anywhere: Pay absolute attention "to things"

One of the factors that helps determine success in the workplace is concentration and paying instructions to directions when a job is new and the material is unfamiliar and not yet “ingrown”.

It is an issue, for example, in corporate training. I can recall a PowerBuilder class in 2000 that started quietly enough, but within a day the instructor was expecting students to resolve problems on their own with the Online Help, in an object-oriented environment that seems counter-intuitive to those trained in “old school” procedural programming.

Or consider what happened in the late 1980s and early 90s as mainframe shops introduced automated source control and elevation management.  Employees who did not follow less familiar instructions exactly sometimes risked making promotions of modules that ran in production, but that could be exposed to corruption.
It’s having a “problem” and the threat of getting burned that makes people learn and understand things, it seems. It’s basic animal psychology, the kind you take multiple choice tests on.

Another area of concern is in jobs where associates go out to work with clients. They are given very precise scripts of what to say to clients, and find in practice they cannot impose on their clients’ time and take conversational short cuts.

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