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I've worked at an IT company as a consultant for a little more than a year and I currently work at a customer's office who's really happy with me.

My boss put me forward for an in-house training, which is held by fellow employees for us. I've been there four times so far and it's been absolutely terrible every time. The two people running the training (Seniors) have no idea how to teach, or behave like decent human beings.

It appears as if the two Seniors expected us all to already know everything before even attending - on top of ongoing harassment and condescending behavior towards us. (e.g. "What do you even do at work all day?")

To go more into detail: We're attending a Java Backend training, but I for example don't work in Backend development (I'm a Jr. in test automation); some of us don't even code in Java. Yet we're expected to be on the same step of training from the beginning. Many, including me, are left behind.

Currently, we forwarded our concerns about the quality of the training, but I heard from a friend who also works there that the same two employees made everyone attend a test to see what they've learned so far and threatened that bad results would "affect your next appraisal interview" after they didn't get the results they wanted. This is not the change I've been rooting for.

I've been diagnosed with chronic depression years back but I'm doing fine on the job otherwise. Every week at which I've got an appointment for this training my productivity suffers all week, because I start doubting myself. I fear this will throw me back on the long run and yield no results on top of it.

My question is: How could I approach my boss about this and that it damages my mental health?


UPDATE: I phoned up my boss and told him I don't feel well about the training and that it doesn't help me with my current career path. He dismissed my concerns, because he's convinced we're being taught Java basics, which is not the case. His assumption here is based on his personal perception of basics, which does not correlate well with us. He told me to go to the next appointment tomorrow and then give more feedback. Overall the conversation wasn't very fruitful.

So far I am unsure of how to keep arguing my point. I'll hold out for the next training and then update again.


UPDATE2: The next training mentioned above was much better. As opposed to before the Seniors actually cared to ask things like "Did you do this before in a project?" and also consulted us for our opinions a lot more often. We were able to discuss answers and not just get a "I am right and you're wrong and that's a fact". Their approach has turned a lot more humble overall and they're eager to learn how they can do better.

I told my boss as much that the interpersonal aspect has gotten much better and as such I was able to follow the training better, too. Things did stay civil and I am really happy it played out like this for the time being.

  • @JoeStrazzere I've got professional help. So what you're saying is that this is acceptable behavior from training instructors? – BountifulThea Sep 22 at 11:46
  • Just to be clear: do you want to raise the 'mental health aspect' to your boss? Or is that a separate question? – seventyeightist Sep 22 at 17:45
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    Also what's the motivation for you being sent to "Java backend development" training if you don't work with Java backend development? Is it so you can gain background knowledge as a QA or because you may be expected to move into this area in the future or something else? – seventyeightist Sep 22 at 17:48
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    @seventyeightist I am unsure whether I should raise the mental health aspect, but so far I got the impression that it wasn't as good of an idea as I thought. The motivation behind it was to produce better code for my tests, though that was my suggestion when I was told. What I didn't know was that the instructors would be so adamant to get us all into backend development. As for the future aspect, I'll be sticking with this customer for at least two more years and I have no idea what might be next. It could apply as well as not. – BountifulThea Sep 22 at 21:04
  • Is it possible that both you and the trainers are being ill-served by your boss? Mixing experienced Java programmers with students with no Java background seems like a recipe for making everyone unhappy. If the instructors pitch to the folks with no Java background the experienced programmers will feel like they are wasting their time. If the instructors pitch to the experienced programmers, the non-Java programmers will feel overwhelmed. Is it possible your boss doesn't understand that this course is not suitable or even relevant for someone in your position? – Charles E. Grant Sep 23 at 0:32
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I wouldn't be at all surprised if the two seniors running the training really don't want to be, which is manifesting itself in poor behaviour by them.

It's a sad reality that many people don't identify that educating others is a specific skill, and it's not suitable for everyone. Yes, you must have strong knowledge, but you also need patience, and an ability to teach.

If you don't believe that you are getting value from the training, you should go to your manager and indicate that is the case. Training should be focused and have a clear objective in mind. If you are continually attending training and there is assumed knowledge that you do not have, to the point where you are left behind, it's likely that the training is not targeted effectively.

Ultimately both you and your manager should agree on a growth plan for you, that details the specific skills and knowledge that you wish to improve.

It is possible, but probably unlikely that training performance is coupled with your job appraisal. This is something you manager can indicate to you. They should be involved with any form of assessment.

When you go to you manager, it would be good if you had specific ideas with how training could improved. Maybe there is an online training course that's available to you? Or maybe you simply want out?

At the end of the day, you need to remember that the customer is happy with your performance. That is something you can be proud of, and to be honest, it is probably what matters the most when it comes to your performance. So, no matter how these two "trainers" appraise you at training, it's likely the business will still hold you in high regard.

  • Thanks for the useful input. I contacted my manager, but he dismissed my concerns because he's convinced we're being taught Java basics, which is not the case. Basically he said "go again and give us feedback". I'll put the full update above. – BountifulThea Sep 23 at 9:44
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There's no real solution to the problem, as it's the way people just are. The seniors probably won't become friendly, helpful and mindful over the night. The only way is to tackle the problem head on, or try to completely avoid it if possible.

Have you talked to the seniors? Tell them when you don't understand something, if they need to repeat it 10 times then be it. Speak to them first that this is not something you are familiar or experienced with, and that you don't even do the things they teach. If they are being rude, tell them that their attitude is not making things easier, and that they should maybe explain the basics before. If they ask what are you are doing all day at work, tell them straight - not this here that they are teaching, otherwise you wouldn't be there in the first place.

At best, speak to them that they speak to your boss about who is this course actually for, and let them say to the boss that there are people taking the course that in reality don't need it and would be better off just working. Maybe the boss will listen to them if not to you.

On the other hand, since the situation is quite similar to the one I was going through, you should also ask yourself: is it worth working for a boss that doesn't take you seriously? Try with another round of feedback to the boss, but if he hesitates to do something about it, you would be better off somewhere else.

  • OP says the trainers are condescending, belittling and don't behave like decent human beings, so my worry with this approach would be that they'd talk to the OP's boss with something like "oh, Bountiful Thea? Yeah he's/she's useless, can't even [do XYZ, whatever that is in the Java backend world], I don't know what he/she has been doing all this time as it can't have been Java!" and the boss may or may not have enough context to know whether those comments are worth listening to or not. After all the company (and boss?) thinks enough of the Seniors to have them deliver the training. ... – seventyeightist Sep 28 at 18:58
  • ... however I think your approach would be very effective in the case where the trainers were generally ok, but frustrated because of the mismatch of expectations (OP/boss wants them to be trained on Java basics; trainers are backend specialists and expect the people to have a good knowledge of general Java already which obviously means they can't do the training in the way they would expect.) – seventyeightist Sep 28 at 19:00

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