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How did you deal with the training period in your job?

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Hello everyone,


this post is less about physical health and more about mental health. I hope to get some opinions from you guys here.


I found a job after being unemployed for five months. And the job combines everything I wanted. However, after three months, one thing is visibly worrying me, especially because we are now in the home office a lot. I'm in customer service, so I take requests from customers. The simplest things are complaints or reorders of individual parts. It gets complicated when the customer needs extensions for certain applications and wants to know which products he needs or wants to be told how to install or program certain products. We have a large product range and I am currently despairing of the many calls I receive where the customers blithely chat away only that I can then say: "I'm sorry, I'm not familiar with that, I'll give the colleague a callback."


I have tried to fight my way through the many documents, but they are only of limited help. It would probably take a lot more time to deal with them intensively. But I think that even then, I still would not have a good overview of all products and their applications. Since I started working there, there have been three seminars, which I have of course attended to expand my knowledge. Unfortunately, I often have the feeling that even if I have something explained, I forget it again or at least can not explain it to the customer.


There are now two weeks of vacation coming up. And if my chaos of thoughts continues like this, it will turn out, as I know myself, that one day I think I'll read through some of the product instructions, and on the other day I think I should use the time to switch off, only to be unable to let go of it in my mind anyway.

I can now think of a program with which I am fully occupied throughout, so that I do not even get the chance to think about the work, or I decide to actually use the time for my own further education, in the hope that in the new year I will then no longer be so frustrated with it. According to other colleagues, it takes at least a year until you know your way around a bit, and even after a few years, new things you didn't hear of so far are coming up all the time.


How do you deal with feeling overwhelmed at work? How did you get through your induction period?


I would appreciate to read your opinion on this topic, so I can clear my chaos of thoughts. 


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"The purpose of life is to be happy." - Tendzin Gyatsho, the 14th Dalai Lama 


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By breathing. Seriously if you are doing what you can by reading the manuals, asking questions to co-workers and looking up answers that you can't find in the manuals then you are doing everything you can so I wouldn't worry to much; because your co-worker is absolutely right, I have been a print tech for 16+ years and I'm still learning new stuff all the time; not just with the new machines that I have to employ to offices, but over the last few weeks I finally figured out how to mail merge which I never did before; I just printed and stuffed the letter brochures for Consumer Service. So really you never stop learning.  

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Hey so not directly related but I work adjacent to customer service (technical sales support and technical support are 2 of the 4 hats I wear at work) and have a few tips:


1, Promise follow through and action, not results. Say, "I am going to escalate this to my colleague and I will have an update for you on [date]." 


2, do what you promise. If you say you're going to update them in 3 days, put a calendar item to update them in 3 days. Even if the update is you're still waiting and going to check in again, say that.  Clients don't like but generally can tolerate slow turnaround. What they HATE, however, is feeling stonewalled and ignored.


3, see if you can find a more experienced person on the team to ask advice from every few days. Frame it as you wanting to make the connections you need to know where to go for things so you don't have to bug them as often. This can be your manager or you can ask your manager to set you up with a peer mentor. This will help you learn the ropes and also help your manager fill holes in the onboarding process.


4, don't be afraid to be a squeaky wheel a bit. Everybody at your work is probably struggling with something related to COVID and Q4 crunch and feeling a bit overwhelmed too. A friendly reminder after a few days of radio silence is appropriate as long as it's friendly - you don't want to fall off someone's radar when you're waiting on something from them. 


5, sometimes someone just wants to vent. If your calls aren't timed, ask them how things are going and then be a sympathetic ear. Not with platitudes but sincerely. Let them get it off their chest. By empathizing with the clients you understand the issue from their perspective and help your company not seem like cookie cutter corporate bull pucky. Also you can sometimes realize that what's actually bugging them isn't what they're complaining about and sometimes solve the issue under the issue. Case in point: we had a client complaining about how fragile a widget was. 


Turned out there were two real issues: downtime caused by not having safety stock of the widget and a lack of training on how to handle it since the previous tech had moved on and didn't train anyone else in proper operation. We got them to change their stock policy and offered a training session. Problem solved, happy clients again. Me and our sales manager wouldn't have figured it out however if we hadn't taken an hour to let the client vent at us and asked questions to get at the cause of the issue.

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On 12/17/2020 at 12:25 PM, Windranger said:

How do you deal with feeling overwhelmed at work? How did you get through your induction period?


I second and agree with what has already been said! I also want to add in write everything down and try to be as organized as you can.  I find these both tend to help calm my chaotic and overwhelmed thoughts.  Unless these stress you out... :) 


When I started my new job, I had limited training. Most was on the job or being talked through stuff. I was told to look at our procedures, which were all out of date so that was no help. 


I started writing everything down in the most obnoxious detail I could. The more information I wrote down, reviewed notes and started writing my own procedures, the more familiar I became with the job.  I had notebooks specifically for different aspects of my job and when I had time, I would add the notes to OneNote notebook. For me, I learn better with a mix of show (coworker shows me), write (I take way too many notes and step by step notes) and then do.  If you don't already, take notes while you are on your calls. This is a good tool for associating products with real life situations and can help you see patterns of customer complaints or comments. 

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Congrats on the new job! It's awesome that it suits what you want out of your professional activity.


I'm not working in the same field, although I do have to deal with "customers"' complaints and feeling overwhelmed. Regarding the training period (and periods of time after that):


On 12/17/2020 at 9:25 PM, Windranger said:

Unfortunately, I often have the feeling that even if I have something explained, I forget it again or at least can not explain it to the customer.

This is fully normal when starting a new job, you should  get more accustomed with time. Do your best, don't be afraid to ask.


On 12/17/2020 at 9:25 PM, Windranger said:

According to other colleagues, it takes at least a year until you know your way around a bit, and even after a few years, new things you didn't hear of so far are coming up all the time.

Remember this whenever you feel overwhelmed. Feeling overwhelmed at this point is normal. If I understand your colleagues correctly, even later on, feeling ovewhelmed from time to time will be normal. Accept it: you can't fight reality. The laws of physics, psychology and human energy tanks apply. Perfect results aren't on the table. Dealing with a sometimes less than optimal ability to handle the situation and rolling with it (be it because of outside parameters or a lack of preparations on your part - both can happen) is the mark of high performers.



On 12/17/2020 at 9:25 PM, Windranger said:

"I'm sorry, I'm not familiar with that, I'll give the colleague a callback."

And this is a perfectly correct and valid answer and often isn't used enough. You can't know everything. Seeing that you are new at the job, you obviously have more things to get a hang of than more senior colleagues. It's perfectly normal. Although, as @chemgeek has stated, when you state that you'll be calling back, you really, really, should follow through.


As for how to deal with the training period, I find that taking care of myself even on workdays and taking time for myself is essential. Going out for a walk, running and working out are awesome mental catalysts that help me to build energy back, focus and let work outside of my personal life. Both approaches to your coming holidays can be good depending on your current needs. Taking the time off to take care of yourself and build energy without thinking about work is awesome though if you feel that some amount of additional training would help you get a better handle on your job when you come back and that that would help you to build a viable work-life balance when you get back to work, it might be worth it to dedicated specific time periods to doing just that. If you do it, though, do plan when you are going to dedicate your time to your job personal training, set up a proper ritual to slide in (mine would be pouring myself a big mug of tea), go for an activity to clear your mind afterwards (physical and/or outside activities work miracle on that front, for me) and don't. allow. yourself. to overspend your time on it. You need to take care of yourself, you need to clear your mind from your job and simply enjoy life. That ability will help your effectiveness at work too, mastering it should be a high priority.


Also, all that @chemgeek wrote.

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Living life as a Druid is about walking with the beasts. It's about being scared, looking your fears in the eyes and going on anyway. Dread doesn't go away, you just learn to know it. It's still a beast, it still has fangs, but you walk among it.

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Oh also one other thing: speaking as a manager at my work: a reasonable boss expects effort and initiative, but not perfection. If your boss is worth their title,* they're going to be happy you're asking questions and trying to learn - a reasonable boss expects a learning curve as you onboard. So don't be afraid to ask you boss how to do things - a reasonable boss would much rather answer 50 well thought out and reasonable questions than have you sit on a thing waiting for help or worse yet, do what you think might be right but you're not sure and mess up a client account. :)


final note: it sounds like your work has a bit of a toss you in the deep end approach to onboarding. Take notes on what you find difficult or unpleasant about the onboarding process and think about what could make those things easier - if you end up in management or process improvement eventually those will be helpful in improving the onboarding process. :)


*Admittedly this isn't always the case

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