Can you help evaluate if I am receiving enough training?
Hi, I joined a contract research organization few months ago after finishing graduate training. This is my first job out of school. Surprisingly, I don't have junior people in the same office as me, so I don't know what is normal in many things. I am seeking help to understand if I am receiving enough training. Could you please share how junior people are trained in your organizations? In my organization, we have many e-training on sops and operational stuff, however, no clearly defined in person training and in my opinion, not enough standardized templates and detailed sops. In the very first few projects, the senior people reviewed my work and provided comments. But I started to feel people are not reviewing my work carefully and it is getting harder for me to have the review back in time. I understood that they have their own projects and the feedback I got is that I learn fast and I am doing well, so they may think I am ready to be independent. I was put on many projects as the only accountable person on the function. I really want to make sure I am doing the job right and I am trained well. I ask questions when I see the problem, but if I don't see the problem, I miss it and this may bite me in the future. I also heard from people who left this company complaining about the senior people dumping the work to juniors and not providing enough support. I started to think the same, but it is hard to tell whether I am right. The workload is not transparent in this company, so I couldn't tell if others are overwhelmed as well and not having time for training me. To stay competitive, I learn by myself after work. I am getting tired, but not even sure if this is enough. Is this the typical experience for junior people? Appreciate any comment or maybe just sharing your experience.
Sounds like you have a few issues here beyond training, i.e. workload.
In my experiences, these days and for some time now, training comes in the form of doing your job. And for many junior folks these days, either is direct hands on management with the boss or, crash and burn learning.
Forget about on-boarding, learning-time etc.blah blah.
Transparency on work-load among your peers and cross-functional teams, always an issue in every organization, for the most part what you can bet on is that every is in fact busy and have workload. You should know what the over arching projects are but one thing that is always an issue, even by managers who were once the tactical/admistrative donkeys forget all the small steps and projects that needs to be done to deliver a specified task (.e. work behind the task).
For training, accept that your job is the training. What you're missing is feedback. So you go to the people around you, including the boss to get that feedback. Ask for meetings, even if ti comes down to putting meetings on calendars - you mention you ask questions, that's a good thing, keep doing it. Build a network of people around you who will support you and help fill your knowledge gaps. This is usually, is NOT your boss. Its your cross-functional colleagues who are SMEs in thier domain, use thier expertise, ask. The more you bring people in to help the more you establish yourself. Surround yourself. Overtime if you're asking for help in the right areas, you'll find people will WANT to help your (i.e. help as a surrogate to be engaged with you) - as it can be come a win-win. Their win is they get informed on things not only on what you're working on but may see something that is relevant or impacting to them etc. etc.
And don't worry in the short term as being perceived as no knowledge, or stupid...its ok early in your career and if you manage it right, the opposite happens - people see you as accoutable, trustworthy, and accept you know your limitations..that's not a negative!
Especially if you own it (but not too much, its not about beating youself over your head, its about, "I know this, who can I go to get informed, or, I'm not clear here, I need the background, can I have few minutes so I can contexulize this, then after with your input, I can take an informed decision, or better yet we take it together?" NOT..oh I don't know, i never got trained, I"m not an expert, this is not an area i can really comment on, etc.). Don't waste time in say project meetings asking too many questions on your development gaps, that's NOT the forum. YOu can ask clarifying questions and save other question for off-line - you'll see taking them off-line 1 on 1 will help you build relationships too!
You're doing the right thing, but change your mindset, see your work as the training, its ok if off-line you're training yourself. Fine, good. I do the same. For me, i'm middle management (although my company exhaults me a bit more that what i do). Im not really an expert in all I do, I can't be - actually, i'm a zero subject matter expetise wise, technical knowledge near zip). But I am good, in doing my job (don't know if that make sense to you).
But what I do is I surround myself with those who know - and leverage them. When you do it well, like I do, and you will learn, you will get a collateral benefit - you become empowered. You're the go to. And in my case, well also becuase of my job, I'm have the final say for my function, and maybe another as well, but its how I excute that final say right?.
Especially as you climb up in your career you'll never know everything and you can't know - you will need to rely on others, like i do, and that's starts to go into "leadership competencies". and it starts, someplace like here, creating your own stop-gap, network, support system of experts to guide you, training you and growing you.
Don't view training as an academic thing, like you'll do a course or something. See is as, you get 30 minutes with a colleague who will inform you on a question you have or something they're doing that's relevant to you. That's on the job training that's your job. Experience based training.
Change your mindset - see your work as your development. Someone once told me "want what you do, over doing what you want".
As for your review cycles - it comes down to project management - start putting meetings in calendars, put a project map in place with your critical passes (if you haven't taking a basic project management course do it, a simple one, not for certification, see if your company offers like a 2 day one). You can't make any claim on workload unless you map it. Its something I make time to do, I have all my and cross-functional projects mapped and I use resources to support that (I use a team project manager), and for me, i have my own personal project plan (only relevant people know i have it, but its somehting I deploy when I need it) so MY workload can't ever be questioned - it never is as my role is senior enough were no one cares) .but I always have it if not for my own north star. Get people to align to your project plan and have them understand clear risks to non-compliance/on-time delivery. This is where you can start to Lead. And get people to commit.
Don't get into complaining cycles either. You know the situation, so deal with it. Know that every day you become more experienced and more competitive. You find people in your job who are constant complainers, do nothing, you can listen once, twice, but you'll see they'll do nothing, conversation with them is no value waste of time - don't be one of them. They suck. They'll be there 3 years from now if not fired, still complaining. no action - and the dangerous part is they'll want you to take action for where they are insecurte to take action. So nip it now. Stop complaining immediately. Get away from them complainers. Useless people you will see.
Use your situation to your advantage. Its ok if you don't know something - there are a couple ways to handle it.
1. Fake it till you make it. I do this one every day. But know your limits. Use common sense. Be confident. And mean's stating what you know and what you don't know with conviction.
2. Ask for feedback - everybody CAN find 30 minutes for a targeted question
3. Surround yourself with experts
4. take the lead - understanding you don't need to be an expert to take the lead - get everyone in the same room and get them oriented to a situtation (review cycles delayed, workload) - cosolidate your work, and socialize - workthe find a solution and get buy in. This will do wonders for your "training" and development.
5. Don't expect training. Even if you're junior. You won't get it as you climb either. Just keep swiming, nose above water. You get stronger every day. Take peace in that. Move on.
6. Don't complain. Raise a flag if you must - you're scientist - back it up with evidence.
I went into my first job with that mindset of: first they will give me a training period to get up to speed on things and then slowly I'll start acquiring responsibilities.
Nope! Got thrown into the fire on day one. Suddenly I had to make big decisions, travel to other companies, have business meetings and conference calls that were sometimes contentious. Present my work to the entire research group and have chats with higher ups directly about my data and future plans.
I had never worked in a team where other people's work and plans relied heavily on my own and I relied heavily on them. I had no notion of time management or how to prioritize the activities I was doing to align them with the company's priorities.
I didn't even know how to use the particular set of software the company uses for storing and analyzing data and making charts and figures.
But the moment I walked in, I got work dumped on me as if they had all been waiting for the moment I came in to just hand it all over.
Maybe I was given a week. The "HR stuff" week where they show you around and tell you what your benefits are. But after that, everyone acted as if I had already established myself and knew everything that was going on.
I think that's probably everyone's experience these days. The best way to learn is to just do it. It will be terrifying at first as you navigate situations where you don't feel like you know exactly what is expected of you but things will get better with time. Hopefully, in about a year's time, you will find yourself comfortably sitting in meetings knowing everything that's going on, being able to present data with little preparation, and feeling like you're as "on top of things" as you need to be. Also, you will come to understand your workload better and how it relates to others' and hopefully be more comfortable with having conversations about your workload and priorities with your boss.
The advice in the previous reply sounds great. If I had read something like this before my first job, maybe I wouldn't have panicked so much an got gripped with an "impostor syndrome" and extreme anxiety. Eventually, it turned out other people were going through the same things. I wasn't alone. It's probably the same for you..
One thing that helped me was to get feedback from my manager. In my first review, they laid out a set of development goals that I needed to accomplish to reach the optimal level of performance that was expected of me. Once I had that, I knew what I needed to improve and what I was already doing well.
Good luck! and hang in there! Hopefully this phase will pass and you will come out of it much stronger and better.
Also, this quote from T. Roosevelt, which I found helped when I was struggling with uncertainty and fear of failure:
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
What a terrific thread! Thanks to the original poster and both of those who replied. Great advice here, from two perspectives.
I know its frustrating that there is no more formal training in most companies. "On the job training" or what is called OJT went by the waysides long ago. Now, as PG and AIC say, you are in a situation where you learn through trials by fire. You're thrown into it, and you either succeed or you don't (in which case you learn a big lesson and go back to fight again the next day.)
Loved the quote, AIC. Thanks
Dave Jensen. Founder and Moderator
Dave Jensen, Founder and Moderator
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