Who do you think you are?
Published on October 31, 2005 By Sturgee In Life Journals
Okay, I'll preface this and let everybody know that it is going to be a petty rant on my part. This "issue" has been irritating me for the past week, and this morning I got pushed over the edge.

One of my primary duties in my current position is to instruct a visualization software application. Anybody who knows me (all 3 of you out there who read this), know that this is a little humorous, since I'm not exactly a guy on the cutting edge of technology. Nevertheless, since most of the users we train are also not tech types, they (the powers that be) felt that having a non-techie teach it would help, since I would explain things in "idiot" terms, being an idiot myself.

The course is two weeks long, and we just began week number two. There are 5 students in my current class. One of them has a degree in computer science, so he pretty much understands things before I explain them. One other picks it up a little faster than the average student, and two who are right at the average pace of learning for most students in this program. There is one who is WAY behind though, and I'm about to choke the crap out of her. It isn't that she's slow... I've worked with plenty of students who don't have a strong computer background, and tutored them to help them get up to speed. That would be fine. What kills me is that she seems to not give a crap. She has yet to show up to class on time. This is day 6, and the best she has achieved is 5 minutes late (and that was a day with light traffic, and the rest of class was there 30 min early, waiting for her so we could start). I could even forgive being a little late one or two days. But again, she has yet to show up on time even once.

This morning put me over though, because not only did she show up 20 minutes late, but she walked in with a fresh coffee and breakfast from a coffee shop across the street. So, while she couldn't make it class on time, apparently she could make it to the coffee shop to get her coffee. Apparently the course, her classmates, and myself aren't worth her time unless she has her coffee first. If that isn't bad enough, she comes in with an attitude, drops her stuff off, starts up her computer, and is pissed that she is behind since we had already begun class(after the first 4 days of this, I stopped waiting for her to show up before I started class). Then, while she is working on the Practical Exercise (which everybody else has already completed), she continually stops work, puts down all working materials, slowly picks up her coffee and breakfast, has a slow drink and a bite, takes a few minutes to look around the room, before eventually getting back to her work. EVERYBODY ELSE IS WAITING ON HER, AND SHE ACTS AS THOUGH SHE HAS ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD!! This attitude is killing me. I want to just drop her, but I can't. I want to just leave her behind, but she gets a pissy attitude, and makes the whole class miserable. I am so frustrated, I want to puke.

Anybody have any good ideas of what I should do? Keep in mind, she is a "client" (well, her organization is, and they pay my company for this training), so I can't just chew her out or anything like that.... I'm open to any good suggestions though..... AAARRRGGGHHHH!!!

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on Oct 31, 2005
I would not think her company would appreciate this attitude, and there is always someone higher up to talk to. If it's going to come back on you I would say something, If not, Well she's only hurting herself. Just a thought.
on Oct 31, 2005
If everyone else is from her company as well you might be able to find one of them sympathetic enough to write a letter bitching about her behavior on their own. Actually that would even work better if they are from a different company.
on Oct 31, 2005

There are women who are professionals, and they are a real joy to work with.  Then there are the others (not to say that men cannot be that way, but that is for another article).

What can you do?  Cut her out of the loop as quickly as you can.  Period.  She will not change, nor will she get better.  She is not a career woman, she is a wage earner.

on Oct 31, 2005
there is always someone higher up to talk to

It's a sticky issue. The problem is that we are a sub-contractor to the company that actually has the "training" contract with the client organization. The prime contractor provides training on a host of other applications, and we just teach this one visualization software. So, technically, we aren't supposed to have direct contact with the client (other than the students we are training). In other words, I'd have to take this to my program manager, who would have to take it to his liason with the prime contractor, who would have to take it to somebody at the client. By the time that happens, who knows what the message will be, and the question really is: is it worth everybody else's time to deal with this arrogant ass? Just for the record, there are two other ladies in the class, and while they aren't busting any learning curves, they are by no means dragging the class down. They are doing a damn fine job of learning this stuff, despite how difficult it is, and they don't act like the computer is just a piece of crap when it won't work the way they want it to. They realize that they probably screwed up somewhere, and ask for help. My "special one" on the other hand, makes a fuss, and generally acts like a 4 year old. Gotta love it......
on Oct 31, 2005
Confront the problem head on. Ask her to remain after class so you can have a word in private and express your concerns there. Note everything she has done and is doing that bothers you and present her with the list.

Maintain a professional distance. You sound personally affected by this which will diminish your ability to clearly state your case when you confront her. If you let the confrontee see that you've bought into the issue then your screwed because then it becomes an issue about you and removes the spotlight from her.

Have consequence and structure. You clearly either have no schedule or no enforcement policy as evidence by the fact that one class members daily routine sets the agenda for the entire class. You've effectively empowered her by default. You need to be pulling the class along so that it gathers it own momentum. At the moment the class dynamic sounds inert. "We waited 30 mins for her".

Whats the consequence for her distracting behaviour? Its should be failure in that she misses material that she need to pass the course. Instead you've allowed the consequence to be born out by the class and not by the offending member.

Treat It as a learning curve. Use this bee-atch to formalise policy for the way the class and course will be run next time. 6 days into a 2 week stint, you've already lost that battle. I wouldn't bother much with her now. You need to set the agenda from Day 1. So use this time to formulate a class plan for the next course.

Initiate. Dont react. Did you lay out the ground rules and course policy on Day 1? If not how can you blame her (o.k she a bee-atch) for breaking rules that haven't been laid down. You need to be more responsible. You're pointing at her and saying she's the problem. She might be a bee-atch but shes not the problem you are. Your letting it happen. You need to change your mentiality from one of being the victim to one of being the asserter. If you dont empower yourself in this way then you will not be able to change the way future courses are run and you will always be held ransom to bee-atches like her.

Take a course yourself. Organisational communication skills. As an architect, developer, one time implementer and trainer of software based solutions its been my experience that communication skills are far more important than systems knowledge when it comes to training and leading others.

Take charge, set standards and kick ass right from the get go. Dont wait till your beyond halfway in dealing with a problem before trying to do something about it. Never works.
on Oct 31, 2005
Alternatively you could use student records to obtain her home address. Wait six months until the course is over and then go round to her place in the middle of the night and pour a jug of acid over her cars paintwork.

I guess it depends on your personality type. If confrontation doesn't bother you then the go the former route. If on the other hand you can't handle confrontation and your prepared to settle for an empty self esteem hit then messing up her car may offer some respite.
on Oct 31, 2005
....then again i suppose you could always kill her?

Im not sure what the contracted rates are these days as i prefer to do all my own wet work but im sure if you spread around 10-15 large ones you could have her off-ed.

That can bring alot of heat though so I'd advise constructing a water tight alibi and possibly shift some funds into offshore accounts incase you have to do a runner.

I guess it depends. Just "how" late was she again?
on Oct 31, 2005
I would warn her once, then lock the door to the classroom the minute class starts. Put a sign on the outside that says do not disturb, class in progess.

Let her worry about explaining why she isn't trained. Her company is footing the bill and she obviously thinks your job is a joke. Show her just how funny you can be. Lock her smart ass out and let her explain why being late made her lose the company money.

Good luck.
on Oct 31, 2005
lock the door to the classroom the minute class starts

I kind of like this one....

bigrick - thanks for the input. i think you are right that this one is just a write off. The other instructors and I always joke that in every class there is "the one". "The one" is a challenge due to either attitude or aptitude, but rarely both. It usually takes us until day two or three to fully identify who our "one" is. This time around, all of us identified this girl as "the one" by lunch of the first day. I did lay down the basic ground rules for the course on the first day. The problem is that we, the instructors, aren't really empowered to enforce much. I'm not really "allowed" to criticize a client, so I can't do too much. I HATE to sound like a victim, and really, I don't necessarily feel like a victim, as much as I'm irritated that this individual seems to have such a sense of self-entitlement to the detriment of those around her. I think that is what most irritates me (as well as the feeling of impotence by not being able to call her out). From my years in the military, I don't have much of a problem with confrontation, as long as I am "authorized" to make such a confrontation. Oh well..... I'll just grin and bear it... I'm a big boy..and I'll get over it....
on Oct 31, 2005
Report her to your supervisor (whoever that may be, and how far removed from her employer it is) as not having satisfactorily completed the training due to tardiness and not-give-a-crap-ness.

I mean, maybe that will get her in your class again, maybe not. It may not even send a message. But it might...
on Dec 17, 2005
Some people are raised learning no respect for others. I doubt she even respects herself.
Nuttin you can do.
Just move on and leave her to her world.