A reader writes:
My manager specifically tasked me with training a new employee who is transitioning from one career to the same position I hold. I created a very detailed orientation packet that my manager approved.
The problem is that my coworker (a peer in the same role) seems to have decided that training the new person is her responsibility — or at least one she is sharing with me. She is an excellent employee, but hasn’t even been in the role a year. In fact, she hasn’t even been out of college for a year. In double fact, I trained her when she started.
Today she was giving not exactly correct information and talking about things well outside her role and well outside what a new employee needs to know on day one. She was also hindering me from reviewing the new person’s orientation packet, which includes important stuff that needed signing. She wouldn’t leave the two of us alone until I explicitly asked her to. At the end of the day, she told the new employee (who has more work experience than she has even been alive) that it would be ok to go home, as though giving permission.
How should I address this? As my manager rarely works with us directly, my manager has never witnessed this behavior, so I’m afraid that mentioning it would seem like tattling or complaining. And I’m afraid it might send the wrong impression to the new employee if I start off our relationship by warning that my coworker isn’t necessarily the best source of information. I also hesitate to confront my coworker, as previous attempts have been ineffective and met with defensiveness, and in all cases my manager had to back up what I was saying before she would listen.
You need to be direct with your coworker. She may not realize that you’ve been specifically tasked with training the new employee and may assume it’s a group responsibility, or she may just be oblivious about how stuff works. Either way, your first step is to be direct with her.
Say something like, “Hey, Jane asked me to train Bob, and I have a plan that I’m following for that. I don’t want to confuse or overwhelm her by having her get different info from two different people, or in an order that won’t make sense for the plan I’ve created, so please don’t do a separate training thing with her.”
And don’t be shy about being direct with her in situations like the one where she wouldn’t leave the two of you alone. You eventually did directly tell her to leave, but don’t feel like you need to drag that out. If she comes over to the two of you while you’re in training, you don’t need to let her just hang out there. Stop your conversation with the new employee and ask your coworker what she needs — making it clear that it’s not going to be a training conversation of three. If she says she just thought she’d join to help the new employee say, “Oh, no thank you. We’re all set.”
If the problem continues after you’ve been direct, then at that point, you might need to talk to your manager and ask her to explicitly call your coworker off. That’s not tattling or complaining — that’s alerting your manager to something that’s impeding your effectiveness and potentially impacting the training of your new employee. And once you’ve tried what’s in your power to try and the problem still exists, then someone with more authority needs to step in.