Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Thinking about Training Sessions, Webinars, and PowerPoints--Must They Always Be So Bad?

Yesterday I accomplished a work requirement: I watched a training session on my computer about sexual harassment. It took over 2 hours. I reminded myself that I was paid very well to sit and watch and then to take tests, but I found myself getting very frustrated. Can there really be people out there who do not know these things?

Part of the reason that all the managers at my worksite had to do this had nothing to do with us, of course. My workplace isn't trying to tell me that they think I'll be a sexual harasser if I don't get this training. I'm a manager, so if one member of my department harasses another or creates a hostile work environment, I'm culpable. If I don't take action, various people up the ladder are culpable. I get that.

I also understand that by making me watch this thing and take tests, the managers on up the ladder can say that they've done all that could be reasonably expected, should I screw up my managerial duties. And just because I create a zero tolerance workplace when it comes to sexual harassment, that doesn't mean that everyone will.

I should have just zipped over to this post on Kelli's blog and tried out some of her writing prompts. I'm such a good girl though. I really felt that I should pay attention.

As I paid attention, I thought, why are these things always so dreadful? Dean Dad has been asking similar questions here and here. The training session yesterday could have been worse. I've sat through far worse, with PowerPoint slides with no pictures and a droning voice reading the slides. The training session yesterday had still shots of people in harassing situations, along with some dialogue. Why not go the extra amount and insert some video--would that cost more?

I also found it disconcerting that the same people (I don't use the word actors, since they didn't act) were used as different characters. One guy is Julio and in another section, he's Mario. As a writer, it offended me. No reason to change names--he's clearly the same guy. And the creators of the training session were very careful to use a rainbow of people and to show that even women can sexually harass men--not much discussion of male on male or female on female harassment--we're not that up to date yet.

In retrospect, I could have turned the sound off and read the whole thing much more quickly. I know, however, that we were being monitored, and most people are doubtful of my speedy reading abilities. And we had to spend 2 hours on the project, and I didn't want to zip through it too quickly.

At least I don't live in California. California law requires managers to undergo sexual harassment training every 2 years.

In this post, Dean Dad pondered his own intolerance with webinars: "I don't think it's impatience on my part. I'm an academic administrator; if I hadn't built impressive boredom calluses by now, I would never have made it. I've listened to faculty emeriti tell war stories from nineteen-ought-six; I've stood in subfreezing weather for a solid hour listening to multiple politicians declare that they'd be remiss if they didn't thank still more people; I've parsed mission statements and outcomes assessment reports."

Maybe I just haven't built up my own boredom calluses. Even when I remind myself that I'm being paid impressively to sit through a training seminar, it still grates on me. Even when I remind myself that the fact that I've never been a victim of sexual harassment is due to several decades of these kind of training seminars being forced on people until the culture changed a bit, I still chafe. I know that the culture hasn't changed entirely, and that's why we must all suffer.

I look forward to the day when we all can take for granted that sexual harassment and/or creating a hostile work environment is reprehensible, and we would all no more harass each other than we would sexually abuse a 4 year old--alas, we're not there on the sexual harassment count, and there's still more sexual abuse of small children than I can comprehend.

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