Use training opportunity to develop new responsibilities

Dear Joan,
In a recent article regarding secretaries, you stated that in today’s workplace, "45 percent train others, especially on computer skills." Please explain in more detail this statement.

At my present position as a secretary, I maintain that training other staff members on computer programs should be limited to "in-house" programs designed for our company. However, my supervisor feels that I should also be training staff on a one-to-one basis on the basic computer skills of Windows and Microsoft Word.

As a past benefit of the company, when computers and their programs became more popular to use, the company allowed any staff member to attend a local area technical college to gain beginner computer skills in Windows and Word. The company paid for the class. However, staff members taking advantage of the class did so on their own time. I state that any new or current employee should have this same opportunity and that it should not be a requirement of my secretarial skills to now train these employees.

Your enlightenment on this would be most helpful.

Let’s take a look at this situation from several points of view.

Your manager may be giving you a great opportunity to expand your responsibilities and role. By adding value as a computer trainer, you could grow into a whole new job. For example, my sister-in-law worked for a small insurance services company as a claims supervisor. She didn’t care for the supervisory side of her job but she enjoyed the technical side. She also loved computers. It wasn’t part of her job description, but she asked if she could make some improvements to some of the basic programs the company used. Because there was no specialist in this area, her manager agreed. Soon, she was training others and answering computer-related questions from other managers. Six months later, there was reorganization and the company downsized. Some supervisors lost their jobs but not Sharon. She was made the official computer specialist.

In today’s volatile work environment, you would be wise to consider how you can expand your role and contribute in new ways. Resisting your manager on this issue could pigeon hole you as someone who is one-dimensional.

Now let’s look at the other side:
It makes a lot of sense to pay for employees to attend a technical school to learn the basics of commonly used computer programs. It sounds like a win/win. It’s not clear from your letter why the company no longer has this arrangement. Perhaps it’s because so many people now are expected to bring these skills to the job, or perhaps the school no longer provides the classes.

In any event, it’s obvious you feel that this benefit should be extended to these employees and you don’t think it should be your job.

Here are some questions for you to think about:

·        Are you resisting this because you are too busy with your current responsibilities?

If so, talk to your manager and explain the situation. Ask him to help you prioritize your responsibilities and eliminate some of them if necessary, so that you can find enough time to train these employees.

·        Are you resisting this because you have no interest in training others?

If so, explain that you are interested in contributing to the organization and adding value where you can, but that this particular task is not appealing to you. Offer to do it, but suggest that you aren’t a good long-term solution.

·        Are you resisting this because you feel that the company is now dumping this task on you since the training benefit has been taken away?

If so, I recommend that you rethink your position on this. Find out why the company is no longer providing this benefit. There may be a good reason. Even if you don’t agree with the reason it has been discontinued, position yourself as a problem-solver and try to find alternative solutions.

Perhaps there is a cost-effective way to provide these employees with training from an outside provider or an internal person who would welcome the job. A little research on your part will make you look like a hero rather than someone who is unwilling to help.

Joan Lloyd is a Milwaukee based executive coach and organizational & leadership development strategist. She is known for her ability to help leaders and their teams achieve measurable, lasting improvements. Joan Lloyd & Associates, specializes in leadership development, organizational change and teambuilding, providing: executive coaching, CEO coaching & leader team coaching, 360-degree feedback processes, retreat facilitation and presentation skill coaching and small group labs. Contact Joan Lloyd & Associates at (414) 573-1616,, or 
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