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Crazy and Inept Co-Workers

  1. Oct 25, 2008 #1
    I spent 12 hours the other night training a monkey. It was really tough going.

    I'm trying to figure out what is wrong with this guy. He seemed to fully understand everything I was telling him on an intellectual level but when it came to actually doing anything he would blank on the most simple of tasks.

    He particularly seemed to have difficulty with locks. One door lock I had to explain to him four or five times and then took the keys from him and showed him exactly what he ought to do before he finally figured it out. He then started double checking the lock to be sure it was locked even when he had not even unlocked the door. It isn't exactly rocket science or anything.

    He had similar issues with other locks aswell such as doors with both a handle lock and a deadbolt. I continually told him that we did not lock the deadbolts and he continually tried to unlock the door with the deadbolt, which would lock the deadbolt, and then need to unlock it again before using the proper lock.

    He showed some signs of OCD, writing down everything, putting everything we did into some sort of ordered list as if it needed to be done in the order which I showed him. When he wrote his report he would speak what he planned to write aloud as he tried to figure out how to word it and would get frustrated to the point of being red in the face if he couldn't think of a wording that he liked right away.

    He had all of these issues through out the whole 12 hour shift and had already been in training for 12 hours with my co-worker the night before! Considering his OCD like activities I wonder if the fact that I do things differently than she does is part of what threw him off.

    So I'm wondering if anyone knows what might be wrong with this guy and if anyone else has ever had to deal with similar issues at work. I had to discuss it with our supervisor and felt rather bad about it since what I described about his behavior may well get him fired.

    Another thing I noticed (I didn't mention it to my supervisor) was a small round bald spot above his ear and behind his temple that looked as though it had been shaved. I didn't remember to check the other side but when I saw that I immediately wondered if maybe he had received shocks recently or something.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 25, 2008 #2


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    If he has a disability, be it OCD or some other medical condition (if he has a bald spot on his head, he may have had a head injury that is leading to these symptoms...an injury to the side of the head where you describe could affect his ability to understand verbal instructions too), the question an employer has to ask is can they do the job if provided reasonable accomodation. I don't know of any accomodation that can help someone figure out what door lock to unlock, as that's a fairly simple task. This is working security, right? I'd be very concerned about someone working security who is challenged with simple tasks, particularly when it comes to their ability to carry out instructions or decisions that involve more complex judgement calls.

    He may simply not be suited to the job. Though, one thing you might consider is giving him his instructions in writing. If he does have a brain injury that is preventing him from properly processing verbal instructions, he might be able to follow written instructions. That might be why he was trying to write down everything he was told (did you check if he was writing down correct information?) If verbal and written instructions equally befuddle him, then he needs to find a job where there is more room for error and more flexibility about protocols, or just more time for him to get every task completed.
  4. Oct 29, 2008 #3
    Maybe moonbear is right, if he has this medical condition it can affect his understanding. When you are spending so much time instructing him to do simple tasks and he’s not getting it then you have to talk to your supervisor and tell him your concern. It’s not good for the company hiring employees who aren’t fit to the job or maybe there’s another position where he can work with his ability.
  5. Oct 29, 2008 #4
    why don't you just ask him if he has a learning disorder and how he deals with it. maybe it's verbal instruction he has a hard time with?
  6. Oct 29, 2008 #5
    It sounds like a learning disorder to me.
  7. Oct 29, 2008 #6


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    "Hey, do you have a learning disorder?"

    "No... why do you ask?"

    *awkward silence*
  8. Oct 29, 2008 #7


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    You could approach it from the other angle.
    "Hey, were your parents brother and sister?"
    "Ok so is it some sort of head injury?"
  9. Oct 29, 2008 #8
    I must confess that reading the initial post did, and still somewhat does, make me think that this is animal research, trying to train a real live monkey to pick locks (which is itself an odd research program with perhaps suspicious objectives!:rofl::rofl::rofl:). Particularly when you discuss the monkey having shaved temples.

    In lieu of that (or even if this IS that), trying a different learning style (written as Moonbear suggests) and a consistent trainer (as you hint at) might be all that is required. I'm of course, very supportive of employing the disabled, being that I hope my severely delayed oldest stepson can someday have some suitable, possibly even fulfilling, employment. Besides: treat training your monkey as a learning challenge for yourself too... note: ALL children are monkeys, and if you ever have one or more (assuming you don't already), you'd better learn some techniques!
  10. Oct 29, 2008 #9
    heh, i guess it comes down to how much you want to help him vs. how much you want to see him leave. i was thinking it might be a bit of not being an auditory learner, but probably some stack overflow going on, too, which would be a lot harder to work around.
  11. Oct 30, 2008 #10
    He trained the next day with my supervisor and my supervisor decided to go ahead and put him on by himself. My problem wasn't trying to figure out how to train him but what to tell my supervisor. He had already told me that if I felt he wasn't able to do the job he would be fired since he had already received 24 hours of training and wasn't catching on to such simple things. I was quite worried that on his own he would have just blanked and forgot to do all manner of things (which effects me if I say I trained him and that he's fine). On top of that I felt really bad to say that I was unsure he could preform his job since I believed that he really probably could.

    At any rate he was placed by himself for the last four days and there were no mishaps that we are aware of. I also warned my supervisor of my concerns but he decided that since he was supposed to do a patrol ride along with him he would judge for himself.
  12. Oct 30, 2008 #11
    Maybe the guy just gets nervous when you are supervising him. You know you have no patience and probably were yelling at him the entire time.
  13. Oct 30, 2008 #12


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    :rofl: at the second half, but the first part might be true too. You never know. It could have even just been that he's usually a morning person and taking a night shift job was beating him up so he just needed a few days to adjust to the new schedule before he could think straight.

    Hopefully it's working out for everyone's sake.
  14. Oct 30, 2008 #13
    Maybe smacking him around with a fish was too much?
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