1. PF Contest - Win "Conquering the Physics GRE" book! Click Here to Enter
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Employer Doesn't Define What's Right or What's Wrong?

  1. Feb 2, 2016 #1
    So I have found myself in the situation were my employer doesn't define what's correct or what's incorrect in completing a certain procedure. When I ask if we can define and write down what's the correct way of doing something and the incorrect way of doing something I'm literally told that we can't define what's right and what's wrong in every situation. To have no instructions written down or definition that everybody follows leaves what's correct and incorrect left up to subjectivity of each individual. My opinion of what is correct or incorrect might differ from my co works or my supervisors without a standard work written down. I just don't like the situation. Math/science in general should never be subjective to opinion something should either be right or wrong. It's frustrating to hear that what I'm doing is wrong when there is no definition of what is right or wrong.

    How should you handle a situation in your career were it's not clear what is the correct or incorrect way of doing something while at work on a daily basis and left up to opinion? Instructions on what is the correct way of doing something is not provided, apparently can't be done. Your work is reviewed by your supervisor and your told that what you did is wrong in their opinion. I have tried to conform to the mindset and opinion of my supervisor but different supervisors review my work (who have different opinions). I have had one supervisor tell me one thing and another supervisor tell me another which was in direct contradiction with what the other supervisor said. Opinions are also variable like and change with time or other factors.

    I know that sometimes these things happens and that there are multiple solutions to one problem. But I feel as if the incorrect solution should at least be defined. It's like if your main job is to do something in which there is no incorrect/correct way of doing it than it's not to clear how the job should be completed.

    I know that some English fields/careers are left up to opinion and only opinion, such as how well an essay is written etc.. But in engineering I'm so use to things being binary were something is either right or wrong and not left up to opinion. I'm not sure how to handle a situation were my main responsibility have no instructions on the correct/incorrect way of doing something and the assessment of the correctness/incorrectness of my work is subjective to static opinions.

    In most situations standard work and procedures are defined but I have found myself in the situation were my main job lacks these and definition on correct/incorrect way to complete the job.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 2, 2016 #2


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    If you're doing engineering work, there is probably a standard or regulation or code which must be followed. These guidelines must be satisfied first, in order for the work to be correct.

    There may be other internal requirements which vary by employer, but these are going to be subjective. As part of your training as an engineer, working on various projects, you'll have to develop your own standards and judgement to follow in cases where the rules may not be spelled out clearly.

    Without talking specific cases, it's difficult to advise you in more detail.
  4. Feb 3, 2016 #3


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    In the real world things aren't always as black and white as they can be presented in university.

    There are lots of jobs where things are almost always right of wrong - for a given situation the employee is presented with, there is a specific pre-defined procedure that the employee needs to execute. Sometimes these jobs are very techinical, and you need to be extremely technically competant in order to perform them. And more and more there is a movement towards this type of work because it tends to reduce errors and increase efficiency.

    But when you become a professional, you make the big money because you (supposedly) can solve problems for which there is no pre-defined solution. You can't then turn around and complain that no one has given you a manual.
  5. Feb 3, 2016 #4
    Welcome to the human race.

    Without details, there isn't much to say. Is your work "incorrect" because you typed it up in Times Roman while your boss currently favors the Ariel font? Or are your results "too close" to acceptance criteria? Or ???
  6. Feb 3, 2016 #5
    I would expect that a graduate engineer would have a sense of what is a correct approach (instead of right) and what is not. If it satisfies good engineering practice which I assume you know or were taught then how can you be faulted. You seen not to have confidence in your abilities for some reason. As stated twice above more specifics are needed.
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook