Without training

Joe Murphy

by Joe Murphy

Picture this.  It is your first day on the job at a construction company.  You are told where the work is being done and told to go there today and start working.  You have had no training. You have never even been on a construction site.  Well of course this is unreal.  Who would ever do such a thing?  It would be too dangerous and a safety hazard for all.  Any boss who did this would be called to account for such irresponsible behavior.

So you think this cannot happen?  Here is another story.  You have worked in a staff position in a company for years.  An opening in marketing looks appealing to you. You pursue it and are accepted for the position.  Your new boss welcomes you aboard and makes sure you know about the company’s products and services.  She then sends you out to meet with suppliers.

One supplier, who also happens to be a direct competitor dealing with the same customers you have, greets you as the new marketing person and discusses how you two can work together.  Since they are both supplier-customer and competitors at different levels he makes what he says is a reasonable suggestion. He says “hey, we can certainly compete, but no need to kill each other over price.”  That seems reasonable to you and you agree. No big deal.

Only months later do you have antitrust training and realize there might be something wrong with what you did. (Price fixing is a federal felony.)

What is the difference in the two scenarios?  Both put an employee at risk that is unfair to the employee and dangerous to the company.  Any boss who lets their people get in harm’s way without preparation should be held responsible for the consequences. 

  • Have someone new to the marketplace with no antitrust training meet with suppliers who are competitors?
  • Send a new marketing recruit to a country known for corruption but with no FCPA training?
  • Have someone who is untrained in privacy dealing with customer data?

All the same point. When should someone be trained?  Always before they start doing the job the training is for.  Always before they could break any rules because they did not know what the rules were.

There are enough resources available for bosses to do their jobs correctly.  No untrained employee should be put in harms way.  If you would not let a new employee use earth moving equipment without the right training, then you should not let a new marketing person deal with competitors or let a new salesperson make a solo trip to a country known for corruption or subject an untrained employee to privacy law risks.

If this happens and the employee runs afoul of the rules, that person should not face the consequences alone.  If the boss cannot get the training for the employee then whoever stands in the way should also be held accountable.  And while company training would be the preferred route, a boss who wanted to could always find some guidance online.  Is that ideal?  No.  Is it better than putting an employee in harm’s way with no protection?  At least the employee has a chance.

Being a boss has certain responsibilities.  One of these is looking after your people.  If the person has no training then the boss needs to be a boss and make sure the employee gets what they need.  And doing this should certainly be part of every boss’ annual evaluation and eligibility for any incentives or promotion.

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