Why should I learn by ORAL tradition? Where's the DOCUMENTATION?

Dabbsy was spawned in that slime of Cain

School of Rock

Something for the Weekend, Sir? The eye-rolling comes first. This is followed by a resigned sagging of the shoulders. Then comes a theatrical slump forward, often accompanied by an equally melodramatic groan, as each user in turn puts head on desk and covers same with arms.

And so begins a new round of user training in a new piece of content management software.

I do enjoy the eye-rolling. All those whites of the eyes makes me feel as if I’m in a comedy shonen manga, soon to be surrounded by giggling, pneumatic bikini-clad girls offering to change my clothes before a party.

I have seen this drama unfold countless times at user desks, acted out like a Greek tragedy with metaphorical sobbing and gnashing of teeth. If the users happen to be standing up when I tell them they will need to be retrained in a new system, I half expect them to drop to their knees (steady ...) and raise their arms to the sky, howling, while a chorus of black-dressed women with white-painted faces gather round, rocking back and forth, and wailing in sympathy.

The funny thing is that this only seems to happen at the really big companies.

Everywhere else, people have to beg their bosses and HR departments to spend a little cash on their professional development. When their request is finally approved, they arrive at their training courses pretty much bouncing around like Tigger.

One of my first employers, back in my days of wage slavery, gave me a promotion without extra pay, ordered me to book myself onto a night school training course in order to gain the necessary skills, and then insisted that I pay half the fees myself out of my joke of a salary. And it was worth every penny.

Corporate-scale training, on the other hand, is regarded as a massive imposition by the recipients, even though it is offered to them entirely without charge.

I try to cheer them up by selling the benefits of learning new software systems. A new life awaits you, I claim – a chance to begin again in a golden land of opportunity and adventure!

Los Angeles, November 2019

If nothing else, I tell them, you can pick up a load of free training before ditching this joint and finding better paid employment elsewhere. Oh, there’s a stick to match that carrot, of course: if you complain and kick up a fuss about being trained in new skills, your name invariably moves higher up the redundancy notice list.

Yay, redundancy! Yay, lump-sum city! Yay, you’re out the door and onto the employment trash-heap with outdated software skills that no-one else wants!

My favourite comment from a user when informing him that I’d be training him in the software was: “Oh no, not again!” Puzzled, I asked this grizzled old geezer when he was last forced to undergo training in a new company-wide system. He thought for a while before replying: “About fifteen years ago.”

I am reminded of a tale told to me by my wife concerning the family reaction to the birth of her younger sister. This took place a few years after her mother first had a boy (my brother-in-law), then a girl (half-lifey herself). Apparently, her grandmother’s reaction on hearing the happy news of a new granddaughter was: “A girl ... again?”

Think about it.

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