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Be cautious before you give your boss feedback

(MoneyWatch) Dear Evil HR Lady,
I recently started a job in the call center department of a famous bank. I used to hear many people complain about the services from that call center. The point is that when I started the job and took the 40-day training, I was surprised that I only learned 20 of the bank's services. When I was receiving calls, I couldn't answer the customers due to my lack of knowledge.

My question is should I send feedback to the manager of the department, pointing out the importance of having good training for its employees, or will that be thrown back to my face because I'm a new employee? Will it be counted as negative or positive feedback?

I hope you understand what I am trying to say, and I really need your advice because I like working in this bank but I don't like what I'm seeing.

People often say they want feedback and they want to make things better, but you're right to be cautious because many people don't take feedback well. They take it as a criticism. The fact that you are a brand new employee is also a strike against you.

But, that doesn't mean you shouldn't offer your feedback. Just make sure you think through a few things.

You may be offering feedback to the wrong person. Sure, it seems like your boss is the right person, but it's doubtful that your direct supervisor is responsible for developing and delivering the training. She may be as frustrated as you are with the skimpy training.

There may not be a practical solution. I have no idea how many services banks offer. The 20 services you were trained on may account for 95 percent of all phone calls. And that 5 percent that remains may consist of 40 other services. If it took 40 days to train on 20 services, it would be another 80 to catch the remaining 40. No company wants to spend 80 days training on something that only encompasses 5 percent of the job.

As a new employee you don't know how things were. Every new job is difficult. But for all you know, they used to train every employee on every single service, but they discovered that no one was learning the most common ones thoroughly and as a result of their new, focused, training, customer satisfaction has actually increased. You announcing that they should go back to the old way will not be lovingly received.

So, does this mean you should keep your mouth shut? No. It just means you should approach it cautiously.

Be an outstanding employee. You want people to listen to you and your ideas? Prove that you are someone worth listening to you. If you are a rotten performer, saying that the training was terrible will just come across as "I'm a horrible employee and I won't accept responsibility for my own failure." But, if you're a top performer, people will be interested in learning how you got to be so fabulous.

Limit your feedback. If you announce that all the training was terrible and worthless and blah, blah, blah, it will not go over well. Instead, pick two or three things that could have made training better. Address those issues only. Write it up. Have someone else proofread it. Often times what is in our brain doesn't come out on paper correctly. Make sure it's clear.

Go to your boss and ask. "Jane, now that I've been here a few months I have a couple ideas that might help with new hire training. Is that something I should share with you?" If she says yes, then hand her your document and follow up with, "I hope this can help. If you ever look at revamping the training, I'd be happy to serve on the committee." If she says no, then you can follow up with, "Is there someone else who is in charge of training that might want some feedback?" If she says no again, you've just gotten the message that your boss doesn't take feedback kindly.

All jobs take time to get used to. Don't be surprised if your opinion about the quality of the training changes (in either direction!) as time goes on. Work hard. You will eventually learn everything you need to know.

For further reading:
6 ways to give feedback to your boss and coworkers
Managers: 6 tips for being a good communicator
How to stop a coworker from ruining your reputation

Have a workplace dilemma? Send your questions to EvilHRLady@gmail.com.

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