I am 3 days into my 4 day out-of-town conference.

To say I am enjoying myself is an understatement. I am having a BLAST!

On the home-front – the kids are still alive, Hun is still employed and the house hasn’t imploded. Well….I don’t think it has. They all say everything is fine, but I’m a little suspicious regarding how quickly they assure me that everything is just fine.

On the conference side, I am learning a ton of new information and connecting with others who do the same work I do.
I am meeting people who have been in the industry even less time than I have and having the same struggles. I’m learning that the lack of training isn’t unique to my office, but apparently pretty common-place across the state as person after person comments about the same thing – lack of training. On the flip side are those who have been in the industry for decades. To a person, they all talk about how they started in the industry – with little to no training. Hmmmm….I’m sensing a pattern here.

The fact that I’m being told that lack of training is basically an industry standard is somewhat comforting to me. Logically, I’m frustrated with this as I believe that a person should be trained in their job properly. Emotionally, I’m thinking, “Oh Thank God I’m not the only one!”

This lack of training and understanding of the job duties makes the events of the past few weeks become a little more understandable for me.

If you’ll remember from my horrible week, we had a work project go horribly wrong. I won’t go into the specific details because I’m bored with hearing about it and I suspect you won’t care anyway. I will give you a brief overview, just so you have an idea of what I’m talking about. I will also say that it involved our Administration, the company lawyer, outside legal council, and Federal law.

I will also say that the documentation I have directly points to two failures in the project: lack of training and passing the blame.

Lack of training is my bane. I know that I don’t know what I don’t know. I can usually pick up on job duties fairly quickly when they are repetitive. This particular job duty only happens yearly on average. So, in the last 18 months, I’ve done this project twice. The first time, I did it as I was instructed and was later told by Legal that we used the wrong contract form and to contact them before sending out contracts for 2013. So I contacted Legal before sending out the contracts and received from them what I was told was the correct contract (email documentation to back this up). I even have documentation of me questioning the lawyer if the information was correct as I (an untrained, high school drop-out schlub) didn’t think it looked right. I was told it was fine.

Passing the blame is all on Legal at this point. As I was distributing the contracts like I did last year, I was told FULL STOP! The contracts are wrong, the timing was wrong and should have been sent out before the end of 2012, and we are violating Federal Law. Legal commented that they had never seen the contracts I sent out before, had no idea where I received them from and that we are now under investigation. Both Flora and I telling Legal that we received the contract from them was met with denial – despite my email documentation from the company lawyer with her name plastered all over it!

At no point was I informed that I was doing anything wrong until a month into the process (February) – at which point it was too late to fix any problems. I have email date/time stamps that show I was contacting Legal in January attempting to send out the right information. It is now April and things are finally on the right track.

So – who took the brunt of the blame for my unknowing mistake? My boss, Flora. She was officially reprimanded and a mark put into her employee file. She was informed that she did not “manage the situation properly.” She was as much in the dark about the guidelines as I was/am. I was in the meeting where she asked both Administration and Legal council who was responsible for distributing any changes in Federal Law so that departments like ours would know how and when to do things differently. She was told that it is our responsibility to search out the changes and to know when changes are made. If our jobs aren’t stressful enough, we were informed we also needed to make sure what we were doing was legal, but that wasn’t the lawyer’s job to do that for us unless we asked her to review the information.

No wonder I have an ulcer!

Despite all of this, the one aspect that has both Flora and I have decided is the silver lining in all of this mess is this: the lawyer admitted that none of the entities in our system is doing the process correctly. She reluctantly said that if our department hadn’t “royally screwed up”, she would not know of the problems across the system and the parent corporation could be in serious trouble with Federal law if “we” (corporate we, not my department we) didn’t change our processes.

Glad we could be of help there Legal! Too bad you haven’t been so kind as to return the favor…

It’s not much – but we are grasping at all we can to the small positives we can get right now!