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Follow. The. Instructions.

, , , , , , | Working | August 4, 2021

Boss: “Can you teach [Coworker] how to take data off [machine]?”

Me: “I don’t know how to.”

Boss: “Oh, it’s simple. Here, I’ll write it down.”

Me: “[Coworker] has been using that kit for a year. If it’s this simple, why can’t he do it already?”

Boss: “You’ll see. If you manage to teach him, I will buy you lunch.”

Spurred on by the chance of free lunch, I go down to the machine, follow the instructions, and manage to do it okay. I rewrite the instructions to be a little clearer and even draw pictures of the icons. I book some time with [Coworker].

Me: “Let’s go through this together. Have you got something to take notes?”

Coworker: “No, I’ve done this before. I will be fine.”

Me: “Okay, if you insist. First, click on the blue icon called…”

We slowly go through the steps. We find a couple of steps he wasn’t doing properly, so I figure we have cracked it.

A few days later…

Boss: “Did you train [Coworker] yet? There is no data from the machine.”

Me: “Yes, I went through it with him. I proved it was working myself, and then when he did it we proved it again.”

Boss: “Go train him again. There is no data for the last few days.”

I go through it with him again. He is making the same mistakes as last time, so I print a copy of my instructions and tape it to the machine. A week or so later…

Boss: “[Coworker] tells me he can’t get the data off the machine. He says you didn’t explain it properly or the instructions were wrong. I don’t know, but can you get down there and check?”

Me: “It’s literally six steps and it works when you follow the very clear instructions. I will go talk with him.”

I go down.

Me: “Okay, [Coworker]. Show me what’s wrong. Hang on, where are your instructions?”

Coworker: “I don’t know. They must have fallen off!”

They were taped on, so I know he is lying.

Me: “Well, it’s a good job I have spares — one for the machine, one for you, and one I will put on the notice board. Now, can you show me what isn’t working?”

He starts the process, again doing it his way and not the right way. Of course, it doesn’t work that way. We repeat it following my instructions and it works perfectly the first time.

Me: “Okay, I have proven this way works several times. Every time you have an issue, you aren’t following the instructions. I’m going to let [Boss] know it works following the instructions.”

He grumbled something, but I didn’t listen. I let our boss know what was happening. [Coworker] didn’t tell anyone but he had three more issues the following week and decided to stop doing it altogether.

No one else in the department had his issue. Eventually, my boss went down and walked him through the same paperwork, word for word. Suddenly, [Coworker] understood completely and gushed about how easy it was and how [Boss] had described it so well — if only “someone” did it sooner. My boss told him to stop being stupid and treat me with respect.

He never seemed to have an issue again.

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