Looking for some advice for my Sister-in-law

Reply Sun 4 Nov, 2012 10:02 am
Hi guys. My SIL, "S", called me last night and is having some trouble at work. Bit of history:

She's 56 or so, has been a SAHM for most of her life, working at small things from time to time but because her husband kept moving for work, she had no chance to get herself settled in permanent work. She's got a geology degree.

She's also not confrontational - actually, you could call her a bit of a doormat, but a lovely person - honest and hardworking. She's also insecure about her experience - I spent quite a bit of time reassuring her and giving her work tips (take notes, ask when you don't know, keep your head down, etc).

Her husband dumped her a year ago for another woman and she's getting some $$ from him, but needs to work.

She got a job recently in some kind of insurance business, of which she knows nothing. She met her boss through an acquaintance and had a long interview. He has turned out to be a bit of a termagant, but he's not the problem.

The problem is with the woman, "L", who was hired three months before S. L is supposed to be training S but is not doing a good or thorough job and keeps information from S, often hampering her ability to do her work. Consequently the termagant gets angry with S. When the woman training L, "M", hears about it, she straightens the termagant out. S is worried she will be let go because he doesn't think her work is up to snuff. She hasn't even been there a month. She also thinks L is setting her up to fail.

It's awful when you think someone's out to get you - she feels L didn't want anyone else to be hired (have no clue why) - it doesn't make for a good work day - no team feeling.

What advice does one give in this situation?
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Reply Sun 4 Nov, 2012 11:28 am
S needs to sit down with M, I think, and explain that things aren't being, well, explained to her. Ask, maybe, if there's some way to get the training in some other fashion (a book, a class, etc. or maybe from someone else - from M directly, maybe?). Emphasize that she (S) really wants to make this work and is not looking to have the company waste any $$, but when the work isn't done properly the 1st time due to poor training or it having to be done a 2nd time, that's a waste, too. Essentially, S is seeing there is a problem and wants to take proactive steps in order to solve it. Not pointing fingers, just looking to fix what seems to be broken.
Reply Sun 4 Nov, 2012 01:41 pm
S needs to go to M for a one on one and tell her she is not being trained well enough and could there be a meeting between the 3 of them to straighten this out.

This scenario is not uncommon and S needs to get more assertive. The passive aggressive behavior of L is unacceptable. Why is she so threatened?
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Reply Sun 4 Nov, 2012 01:54 pm
Well, M isn't her boss/supervisor, just the senior person and she's overwhelmed, which is why L was hired. Sometimes when you go over someone's (L's) head, or behind her back, things get ugly. That's why I haven't suggested this. I don't know what else she can do, though, except email M about some of the training (I was trained to do x this way - is this correct and all I need to do?). Maybe she could train them together, although L is now onto other things. L is her friend, by the way, but M sounds very reasonable.
Reply Sun 4 Nov, 2012 02:04 pm
You mean L is M's friend, right? This could get thick, but maybe not, if M is a reasonable person.

One of my lifetime work deficiencies - this meant jokingly - is what hierarchy there was, was clear and sufficient for the cause. What seems to be going on here is that L is hierarchy by default, and she is not good at it, and at least seems passive aggressive to boot. Sister needs to know who is running the show, but recourse to talking in the manner Jespah suggested with M seems a good idea.

Is this a big corporation or a small insurance office?
Reply Sun 4 Nov, 2012 04:03 pm
L is M's s-i-l, which is how she got hired and they are very tight. S thinks she's heard them talking about her (eek). I just called S and she said she just killed S with kindness on Friday and things got easier. Sounds like L has issues but hopefully everyone will realize what a lovely person S is and begin to support her. Early days - she's only been there a month. But people in offices can be horrible. Both men and women. Apparently their immediate supervisor, B, presents as bi-polar. The guy who hired S is a lovely man but is never there.
Reply Sun 4 Nov, 2012 04:14 pm
I often wonder if there is truth in "keep your enemies close"..

If S was to make L feel as if L was her "mentor", admired her, wanted to "be" her even though she doesn't. Would L actually change her whole tune towards S and train her properly as well as befriend her.

Sounds as if L being tight with M, feels threatened that if S achieves, she may no longer be required.. That's M's problem to sort out and make L feel that is not the case and M should really be making L feel important and her position important.

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Reply Sun 4 Nov, 2012 04:19 pm
I suggest continuing to look for work.

this scenario sounds ripe for problems even if this hurdle gets cleared.

and now she has some experience on her resume...
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Reply Sun 4 Nov, 2012 04:37 pm
To which I say, chihuahua.

Sis could be off looking further away from this imploding spit.

Maybe review of all these types will give sis not just despair (we all know that) but a sense she knows better.

This is not the way to run an office.
Reply Mon 5 Nov, 2012 05:45 pm
I agree, it's not the way to run an office. It's inefficient, for starters, and unfriendly, for another, which is counter-productive.
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