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0162 Training a New Employee

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Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast Number 162, “Training a New Employee.”

You are listening to English as a Second Language Podcast Episode 162. I'm your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in the beautiful Los Angeles, California.

This podcast is going to be about someone training a new worker, or a new employee. Let’s go!

[start of dialogue]

Even though, I’ve only been on the job for six months, my manager asked me to train the new hire. She was starting today and when she arrived, we got down to business.

Akira: So, the first thing I’ll do is to give you a run down of the duties of the job. Your main responsibilities will be to ensure that the reports are finished each week, make any adjustments that need to be made, and distribute them to each department. Is that clear so far?

Frances: Sure. That seems pretty straightforward. Who do I report to?

Akira: Your immediate supervisor is Ida Funck. We all work under her in this department. Okay, here’s the employee manual. Make sure you read it.

Frances: Great. Thanks. Now, when do I get a break?

Akira: A break? You’ve only been here a half an hour.

Frances: Has it been that long? I need some coffee.

Needless to say, it was a very, very long day.

[end of dialogue]

Our dialogue today is about a worker, an employee, and an employee of course is just someone who works for someone else. One of the employees in this company is training a new employee, and the story begins by him saying that, he has only been on the job for six months. “Even though, I’ve only been on the job for six months,” To be “on the job” means to be working at a particular place, or for a particular company. “How long have you been on the job?” means how long have you worked for this company. And the person here is saying, “Even though I’ve only been on the job for six months,” which would be the same as “Despite the fact that I have only been on the job, my manager asked me to train a new hire.” So in the first part of the sentence, he’s saying, “Well I’ve only been here for a short time, for six months, but my boss still wants me to do training, even though I don’t have very much experience myself.” To “train” someone (train) of course means to tell them what to do, to show them how they are to do their job. And so, when you get a new job, you often go through a week or two, or maybe a month or two of training where someone gives you instruction, teaches you how to do a specific job.

A hire (hire) is an employee, a person who was hired by the company. So, in the story here when we hear about the “new hire,” we mean the new person who is now working for the company, the new person who just got a job at the company. Well, this person was starting today and when she arrived, the narrator, Akira, says, “We got down to business.” To “get down to business” - that expression means to start working, to begin doing what you are supposed to do. We can use this expression in business, but we can also use it in other places, such as in school. A teacher might say to her students, “You two, get down to business! Let’s start working.” “Let’s get down to business” means start doing what you’re supposed to do. This is something I have a great difficulty doing, especially on Monday morning. It’s hard to get down to business. I want to go on the Internet. I want to look at the news. Well, you know, that’s what you’re doing right now, some of you, by listening to ESL Podcast.

Well, Akira says the first thing that he’s going to give this new employee is a run-down of the duties of the job. Basically what he is saying here is that he’s going to explain to the new employee what that person, what that worker, has to do in her job. To give someone a “run down” - and that’s two words (run down) - to give someone a run down of something, or a run down on something, means to explain to them what happened, to give them information that they need to know. For example: Yesterday I went to a meeting that you were not able to go to. Let me give you a run down of the meeting. I’m going to tell you what happened at that meeting. The duties (duties) of a job are what you have to do. They’re your responsibilities, the things, or the tasks that you have to do for a job.

So Akira says, “Well let me tell you what you have to do for this new job.” Remember he’s training in a new employee. He says, “Your main responsibilities,” the main duties. When we say main here (main), we mean the most important, the principal responsibilities, the responsibilities that are most important. “Your main responsibilities” he says, “will be to ensure that the reports are finished each week.” “To ensure” (ensure) means to make sure, to verify, to confirm, to be responsible for something. “I need to ensure that I have a car tomorrow morning to take my boss to the airport” means I have to take care of that. It’s my responsibility.

There’s another word that sounds the same, almost the same as ensure, and that’s insure (insure). In fact, they normally would be pronounced the same, but they’re spelled differently and they mean different things. To “insure” (insure) means to get insurance for something. Usually, you pay a company money and the company promises that, if something bad happens, they will pay you money to fix it. For example, on your car, you can have car insurance. So if you have an accident - you’re sleeping and you run into a tree - if you have car insurance, the insurance company will pay you to fix the car. That’s the verb “to insure” (insure). To “ensure” (ensure) means to make sure, to take responsibility for something.

Well, one of the responsibilities is to ensure that the reports are finished each week. Another one is to make any adjustments that need to be made. An adjustment, (adjustment) an adjustment is a change, - usually, when you have to correct something or fix something. I need to make some adjustments in the amount of money that I said we were going to make this year. I have to make some changes in that.

Finally, Akira says that the new employee has to distribute these reports to each department, and to “distribute” (distribute) means to give to people, to give to (usually) different people. We use that verb “to distribute” when we are talking about a piece of information, a report, a letter that goes to several different people.

Well Frances, the new employee, says that everything that Akira is saying seems pretty straight-forward. To be “straight-forward” (straight-forward), all one word, straight-forward - to be straight-forward means to be clear, to be simple, to be not complicated. Usually we use this word when we are talking about a set of plans or directions or instructions, things that you have to do, usually procedures or steps that you have to take - can be straight-forward. For example: The directions for getting from my house to Santa Monica, California, are very straight-forward. You drive up Centinela Avenue, you take a left on Santa Monica Boulevard, you drive one mile and you are in Santa Monica, California, the city here in Los Angeles.

Well, that’s straight-forward. It’s simple, it’s clear, it’s plain. Notice that Frances says, “That seems pretty straight-forward,” “pretty” here means very. Remember, you can say something is pretty, as an adjective means, it’s beautiful, but when you use it as an adverb, it means very. So, that seems pretty straight-forward. That seems very straight-forward.

Frances says, “Who do I report to?” meaning who do I talk to about what I should do? Who is my boss? Notice she says, “Who do I report to?” Technically, you probably will read in a grammar book that the correct way is, “Whom do I report to?” or “To whom do I report?” However, in both conversation and in writing now, in English, many people just say “who” and now “whom.” It’s quite common, probably more common. In fact, if you say, “Whom do I report to?” some people might think you are trying to impress them, to show off, to show that you know grammar better than they do. In actual conversation, it’s very common for people just to say “who” even though, the grammatical form, the traditional form, is “whom.”

Well, Akira says that Frances should report to Ida Funck, the name of her immediate supervisor. Well, a supervisor, you probably know (supervisor), all one word - a supervisor is a boss, is someone who is in charge of, or is responsible for, usually a group of people. When you say, your “immediate” supervisor, you mean that it is the person who you talk to, one level above where you are. That is, you may have a boss, and your boss has a boss, and your boss’s boss has a boss, and so on and so forth. In a big company, there are many bosses, and some bosses work for other bosses.

Well, your immediate supervisor is the boss who is one level above you; who is the person that you talk to, who gives you orders. He has, or she may have another boss that is his or her immediate supervisor. Well Akira says that, “We all work under her, the immediate supervisor in this department.” “To work under” someone means that we are their employees. They are our boss, or in this case, she is our boss. I work under Lucy Tse means Lucy Tse is my boss. Akira then says, “Okay, here’s the employee manual.” A manual (manual) is a book that gives you instructions on how to do something. You can have a manual for your computer that tells you what you should do, and how you should do things with your computer. Usually, most people don’t read those manuals. I know I don’t, but an “employee manual” is what a company gives to a worker, to an employee, telling them all the different rules and regulations of the company. Akira says, “Make sure that you read the manual.” And of course to “make sure” is the same as to “ensure” (ensure). In other words, you’re responsible for this.

Frances says “Great, now when do I get a break?” A break (break) is when you stop working for a short period of time. And Akira says, “A break? You’ve only been here a half an hour.” Notice that that expression, “a half an hour” (a half an hour), four words, a half an hour. You can also say, “a half hour.” Sometimes people will say, “a half hour” with no “an” in between. Sometimes they’ll say, “A half an hour” - they mean the same thing.

Frances says, “Has it been that long? I need some coffee.” Of course, Akira is not very happy that this new worker, this new employee, wants to take a break after only a half an hour. And so he says, “Needless to say, it was a very, very long day.” That expression “Needless (needless) to say,” needless to say means obviously, it was a very long day. I don’t need to tell you that it was a very long day - “needless to say.” And we use that expression when we are going to tell someone something that should be obvious to them, that they should already know because it is obvious. It is clear from the situation.

Well now let’s listen to the dialogue, this time at a native rate of speech.

[start of dialogue]

Even though, I’ve only been on the job for six months, my manager asked me to train the new hire. She was starting today and when she arrived, we got down to business.

Akira: So, the first thing I’ll do is to give you a run down of the duties of the job. Your main responsibilities will be to ensure that the reports are finished each week, make any adjustments that need to be made, and distribute them to each department. Is that clear so far?

Frances: Sure. That seems pretty straightforward. Who do I report to?

Akira: Your immediate supervisor is Ida Funck. We all work under her in this department. Okay, here’s the employee manual. Make sure you read it.

Frances: Great. Thanks. Now, when do I get a break?

Akira: A break? You’ve only been here a half an hour.

Frances: Has it been that long? I need some coffee.

Needless to say, it was a very, very long day.

[end of dialogue]

The script for today’s podcast was written by my immediate supervisor, Dr. Lucy Tse. - the person I work under. Remember to visit our website at www.eslpod.com. You can find there a transcript of the dialogue for this podcast, and soon, you will be able to get a complete transcript of our podcast. We will be giving you more information about that soon.

From Los Angeles, California, I’m Jeff McQuillan, thanks for listening. We will see you next time on ESL Podcast.

English as a Second Language Podcast is written and produced by Dr. Lucy Tse, hosted by Dr. Jeff McQuillan. This podcast is copyright 2006.

Glossary
to have been on the job – to have been working for a place; to have been employed in a business or organization

* Susan had been on the job for 20 years, and was ready for another raise.


to train – to show someone how to do something; to help a new employee learn how to do their job

* Before the boss retired, she had to train her replacement.


new hire – a person new to a job; a person who started a job very recently

* After working in the office all day, the new hire still didn’t know how to file papers.


to get down to business – to get to the point of a task; to skip unnecessary things and start working on the important ones

* After talking on the phone for an hour, Craig finally got down to business and asked Charlene out on a date.


run down – a review; a discussion of a set of instructions on how to do something or how something works; a summary

* Before the parents left the house, they gave their babysitter a run down of what their child could and could not do while they were gone.


duties – things that a person has to do; jobs; responsibilities

* One of the hardest duties that a mother has is keeping her child safe from danger.


responsibilities – things that a person is expected to be able to answer questions about or to complete; duties

* Students have many responsibilities, such as studying hard and getting to school on time.


adjustment – becoming used to a new situation; changing to fit the current situation

* Moving from a large house in the country to a small apartment in the city can be a big adjustment.


to distribute – to pass out; to spread around; to hand out to other people

* The teacher asked Marty to distribute the papers to the other students so that they could begin taking their test.




straight forward – simple and easy to understand; without needing a lot of extra information or explanation

* The doctor had to be sure that his instructions were straight forward, so he wrote them down for his patient.


immediate supervisor – the person one works for; the person whose job is one step above one’s, but who still works for someone else

* When Sasha was unhappy with her job, her immediate supervisor told her to talk to the business owner about it.


to work under – to work for another person; to work under the rules and power of another person

* All of the employees worked under Mrs. Howell, the new boss at the restaurant.


employee manual – a book of rules for employees or workers to follow

* The employee manual says that a worker can be fired if they are late for work three days in a row.


break – a short period of time one doesn’t have to work and can rest during the workday; a period time a person doesn’t have to work and can rest, usually fifteen- or thirty-minutes

* During her break, Sophie went to the store and bought some coffee.


needless to say – it doesn’t need to be said; it is easily understood; everyone should know

* On his first day at the office, Geraldo lost a very important file. Needless to say, his boss wasn’t happy.

Culture Note
Internships for Professionals

Many students just graduating high school or college “face” (have; encounter) the same problem. Often job openings require experience. How can you gain experience without first getting a job?

One way to handle this “paradox” (situation that is contradictory or without a solution) is for students to work in internships. “Internships” are jobs that don’t pay any money, but that people can do to get experience. It is quite common, for example, for a college student to work in an internship while going to school or in the summertime between school years.

Internships provide benefits for both students and employers. Students get experience, “make contacts” (become known to people who may help them in future), and “get their foot in the door” (gain an entry; get an advantage) if the company or organization is looking for future employees. “By the same token” (in the same way; similarly), a company or organization gets unpaid “labor” (work) and can see how well a person works before hiring that person for a full-time job.

Until recently, most interns have been students. With the “weak” (poor) economy, however, more and more “mid-career” (people who have worked in their jobs for 10, 15, 20 years) professionals who have been “laid-off” (fired from their jobs because there isn’t enough business) are taking internships for some good reasons.

First, internships allow professionals to gain experience in “adjacent” (nearby; close) fields, giving them a wider range of “expertise” (knowledge and skills). Second, internships allow professionals to avoid “gaps” (empty spaces) in their resumes. Traditionally, employers don’t like gaps in resumes because the gaps may mean that a person has had difficulty finding a job, had personal problems, or, with a lot of gaps, had difficulty keeping a job. Employers may also see long gaps between jobs as an “indication” (sign) of “deteriorating” (becoming worse over time) skills. Employers may be more “forgiving” (willing to overlook or pardon) of gaps during poor economic times, but as is true for college students, working in an internship also allows these professionals to show a company their skills, which may put them at the front of the line when any new jobs become available.