So glad the week is over

I did not have a very productive week at work, since I spent a lot of my time training the new receptionist. This wouldn’t have been too bad, except that she is very young (19 or 20) and not very experienced. That is not to say that I don’t think she is not coping well; given her level of experience, she is doing a great job. Nevertheless, she still requires a lot of handholding, and I believe that too much is being asked of her.

Since our office has approx 1000 or so people in it (including mobile desk-share workers) and is the main customer-facing site for our company, Reception gets very busy and, at times, one has to deal with quite high-level executives and clients. I believe that requires a certain degree of finesse and nous that is developed over time. I do not think the reception role at this location is suitable for someone whose previous experience consists of acting as Receptionist at one small company for 3 months. Obviously, my manager differs with my opinion.

I get so angry when people, particularly young staff members with potential, are placed in roles that are clearly beyond their experience and skill level. Inevitably, some stuff up will occur due to inexperience (not to mention lack of guidance or coaching), which results in the employee concerned being reprimanded or fired. I have seen it happen time and time again in my management line; to me, this indicates poor management and recruitment skills…not to mention a large degree of butt covering.

When this occurs, I do not believe that this is entirely the fault of the young staff member involved. I believe that management is partially to blame. While I understand the necessity and desirability of stretching an employee’s skills and letting them rise to the challenge, I also strongly believe in hiring an appropriate person for the job, and providing her with the resources, training and guidance to enable her to do the job.

I hope our new receptionist will survive her baptism of fire, as she has a lot of potential. I have offered to act as her coach, and have told her she can always call me if she is not sure of how to handle a particular situation. This is something I am doing on my own initiative. It would never occur to my manager to appoint someone in our team to act this capacity, officially or unofficially. And, unfortunately, it would not occur to many of my team to offer.


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September 2002
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