When I was little, and I wanted to know something – like how to spell a word – my mom would tell me to “look it up.” Granted, this is before the interwebs, and I’d have to go to my dictionary or encyclopedia. I always thought she was just a lazy mother (or didn’t know the answer herself), but now that I am older, I appreciate that she showed me those skills, and made me less dependent on always having to ask for help. It was only permissible to ask once I’d exhausted the options available to me.
When I was in college, I worked at the Writing Center of my college as a tutor. Under the direction of Suzanne (hi!), we practiced a theory of “minimalist tutoring.” The goal was to show the student the tools they had, and teach them skills, so that down the line they wouldn’t need us.
For example, a student comes into the Writing Center, pushes his/her paper at me, and says, “Tell me what’s wrong with my paper.”
I tell the student what is wrong with the paper.
I push the paper back, ask him/her what s/he thinks is wrong with the paper, and we work through it together. The student (hopefully) learns something useful, and applies it to future work.
Even though it was harder to work in the minimalist method (certainly not minimal work!), I liked that we were, in essence, telling people to “look it up.” I only worked there for a year, but I saw progress in some of my regulars. They were making new, exiting, and more advanced errors in their writing – because they had learned from the previous errors.
Now, at work, I find myself surrounded by new people. They are older than I am, for the most part, but because I have been here for two years (on Wednesday – longest held job ever. Can you believe it?) I am assigned as their “buddy” – the gal that answers all of their dumb questions.
And dumb they are. Granted, we have a lot of systems, and rules that aren’t “rules” in the strictest sense, and lots and lots of processes that make no sense whatsoever. I am the first to admit that. But I’ll also admit that for things like this we have some good documentation, and our plan documents are among the best that I’ve seen.
That being said, none of these people will look a damn thing up. Or, next best, putz around with things until they figure them out.
For example: today one of my “buddies” had a call re: an address change. All calls have to be documented. She didn’t know what category to put it in. Did she (a) flip through the options until she found one that made sense (such as the ADDRESS CHANGE one?), or (b) turn around and ask me.
If you picked b, DING DING DING DING!
And another: one of the new people is also doing one of my processes (although I have indicated to the Powers That Be that I think that’s a horrid idea as during training he can’t keep up with simple concepts, but that’s a rant for a different day), and has been assigned an alphabetical portion of the work. The first day this was implemented I got some of the stuff in his split, and threw it on his desk. When finding it, did he (a) look at the files I gave him, and check the system to see where these people were in processing, or (b) ask me what’s up with them, and what we have received so far.
B is the answer of the day, people.
And this is constant. Not that I have a ton of work or a backlog, but I bet I spend a good three hours of my day answering questions that could – and should – be looked up. After all, someday they are going to be on their own, and have to look up their own information. Why can’t that day start today?
Well, because that’s just not the way we do things here at Employer. Thinking for oneself is not encouraged, or even allowed most of the time. Suggestions are not taken (see above re: training issues). You do what you are told, and answer what you are asked, and let it go.
Argh. This, in a nutshell, is what is wrong with people in general. No one is willing to do their own thing, and I’m tired of being the one to do them, just because they need to be done.
When did doing it yourself become a bad thing? Why don’t people have pride in what they do, and learning about the things around them? Why isn’t curiosity rewarded?
Discuss among yourselves.