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Afraid to speak up at training place


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Old 27th October 2014, 12:10 AM   #1
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Afraid to speak up at training place

So, let me first start by saying that I have a problem. I am extremely passive. This is something I really don't like about myself but I have no idea how to change it. I am petrified of retaliation or having bad energy between me and someone else, so I usually just shut up and suck it up.

Right now I am at a training site for my doctoral program. When I first applied my training director had concerns about the type of supervision there but said that with the changes the site had undergone, things may be better...They aren't.

I first noticed the issues when I would ask my supervisor about the paperwork I had to turn in and the timeline I needed to turn it in by. She had no idea. We went to ask other staff members about it but this concerned me as what I was asking about is a basic part of my job there.

Although my main priority is supposed to be clinical training, the site also has this production expectation that everyone has to meet. As students we have a smaller production expectations but we have them anyway. I am the only student supervised by this particular supervisor. All other students have different supervisors with different requirements.

So, as far as I knew, and as far as my supervisor knew, I was doing just fine. However last week the director of one of the programs, sat with me and the other students to have lunch and asked me when I would be increasing my production. I told her what my supervisor told me in regards where I should be at right now and she just said "well let me know when you are ready for more". I got curious so I asked her why she asked and she told me, in front of all the other students, that of everyone, I was doing the worse in regards to production and the staff was concerned.

I was taken aback as I thought I was doing exactly what I was supposed to and my supervisor didn't mention anything. I told her that I had some production for the month but perhaps I didn't know what else I could be counting as my supervisor wasn't sure either. Also since the supervisor wasn't at the site for more than a couple of hours, what I had done already was not yet signed off by her. She said we could meet to discuss.

I felt really concerned and frustrated because I had tried really hard to get as much work done as possible and I knew I had met the production goals and exceeded them but I couldn't prove it. I couldn't believe I was already in trouble just starting and I didn't even know why.

I talked to my supervisor the next week during supervision and she said nobody had approached her about this at all. I also received an email from the head training director asking for a meeting with me, and again, my supervisor had no idea. She told me not to worry about it that the site puts a lot of pressure on the students but that is not my main job and if I needed her to tell them to back off, that she would do it and that I was doing a great job.

Later that same day I met with the program director who first approached me and she informed me that the head training director and her had decided that I would be meeting with her every week to make sure my production goals were met. Essentially, that I would have two supervisors, one for clinical work and one for administrative issues. Again, my main supervisor has no idea about this. From the tone of it, it sounds like the director and the head supervisor don't like my supervisor and somehow I am caught in the middle.

Luckily during that meeting the director printed out my production for the week and she saw I was doing 200% of what I was required to do, so at least it didn't look like I'm a complete slacker.

However later I got an email from yet another staff member saying that although that is great, I need to make sure I turn in the production paperwork within 24hrs, and that I need to figure this out with my supervisor. This is totally impossible as my supervisor has to sign off on it and she is not around when I am there.

So I am getting completely fed up by this mess. It looks like noone really knows what is going on, and I am getting in trouble for things I have no control over.
I feel like talking to all of them and tell them to get their **** together because this is really freaking stressful and I am not there to be the scape goat for their issues with each other. Except....not in that tone/language (though God I wish I could).

Im not sure what to do here...I want to say something (professional) about how I need to have a clear understanding of who is my supervisor, what are the expectations for this job and a clear way I can meet this expectations. I can't be made responsible for deadlines when I am required to do things I can't do because my supervisor is not there.

However I am afraid of speaking up because Im afraid I may look like a troublemaker or demanding or out of order. I am afraid that if I do say something then the staff members will make my life hell somehow.

Any suggestions on how to navigate this situation??
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Old 27th October 2014, 1:57 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 4givrnt4gtr View Post
So, as far as I knew, and as far as my supervisor knew, I was doing just fine. However last week the director of one of the programs, sat with me and the other students to have lunch and asked me when I would be increasing my production. I told her what my supervisor told me in regards where I should be at right now and she just said "well let me know when you are ready for more". I got curious so I asked her why she asked and she told me, in front of all the other students, that of everyone, I was doing the worse in regards to production and the staff was concerned.
That was extremely unprofessional of this individual.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 4givrnt4gtr View Post
I was taken aback as I thought I was doing exactly what I was supposed to and my supervisor didn't mention anything. I told her that I had some production for the month but perhaps I didn't know what else I could be counting as my supervisor wasn't sure either. Also since the supervisor wasn't at the site for more than a couple of hours, what I had done already was not yet signed off by her. She said we could meet to discuss.
Some of this sounds like logistical issues between supervisors. One thing I recommend is not throwing your immediate supervisor under the bus. This is the person that is likely to write you a LOR.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 4givrnt4gtr View Post
I felt really concerned and frustrated because I had tried really hard to get as much work done as possible and I knew I had met the production goals and exceeded them but I couldn't prove it. I couldn't believe I was already in trouble just starting and I didn't even know why.

I talked to my supervisor the next week during supervision and she said nobody had approached her about this at all. I also received an email from the head training director asking for a meeting with me, and again, my supervisor had no idea. She told me not to worry about it that the site puts a lot of pressure on the students but that is not my main job and if I needed her to tell them to back off, that she would do it and that I was doing a great job.

Later that same day I met with the program director who first approached me and she informed me that the head training director and her had decided that I would be meeting with her every week to make sure my production goals were met.
That actually sounds like a good thing. This way, they can directly assess your work.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 4givrnt4gtr View Post
Essentially, that I would have two supervisors, one for clinical work and one for administrative issues. Again, my main supervisor has no idea about this. From the tone of it, it sounds like the director and the head supervisor don't like my supervisor and somehow I am caught in the middle.
That could be; however, I would just comply with what each of them want and not concern with all of that. The main things is, the one complaining is also going to directly assess you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 4givrnt4gtr View Post
However later I got an email from yet another staff member saying that although that is great, I need to make sure I turn in the production paperwork within 24hrs, and that I need to figure this out with my supervisor. This is totally impossible as my supervisor has to sign off on it and she is not around when I am there.
What you may need to do is find some way to meet with your supervisor. I am not saying it is fair, but you will need to find some solution. Can the form be faxed to your supervisor or scanned?

Quote:
Originally Posted by 4givrnt4gtr View Post
I feel like talking to all of them and tell them to get their **** together because this is really freaking stressful and I am not there to be the scape goat for their issues with each other. Except....not in that tone/language (though God I wish I could).
It may not be a bad idea to request a sit down with all of them. However, do not vent, but I recommend playing a bit dumb. With most jobs you have a 6-month period where you are allowed to make more mistakes (it is assumed you are not fully trained at this point).Ask them what they recommend you do to increase your productivity. Give them a copy of your paperwork and a time log of how you are spending your time. Map out the process by which you communicate your work in a flow chart. Then ask for their advice. This might show you have a strong desire to accommodate their definition of success.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 4givrnt4gtr View Post
Im not sure what to do here...I want to say something (professional) about how I need to have a clear understanding of who is my supervisor, what are the expectations for this job and a clear way I can meet this expectations. I can't be made responsible for deadlines when I am required to do things I can't do because my supervisor is not there.

However I am afraid of speaking up because Im afraid I may look like a troublemaker or demanding or out of order. I am afraid that if I do say something then the staff members will make my life hell somehow.

Any suggestions on how to navigate this situation??
I wouldn't start out going straight into blaming the bureaucracy of academia (it is a red tape nightmare). Start positive and as an inquisitive student wanting their advice on how to improve. Ask how you can help improve communication (put it on yourself, take notes, and then scan the notes for your records).
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Old 27th October 2014, 9:58 AM   #3
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I suggest that you don't get caught up with speaking up and blaming or expecting "fairness". I don't mean to sound brutal but for now your focus should be solely on your productivity and how to demonstrate it.

In many jobs you get thrown into the deep end with almost no supervision, training or being told expectations. It's up to you to figure it out.
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