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Roxy

Started Volunteering - Help ! No Defined Role

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Roxy

I recently started volunteering at a furniture and electric store. I've done it a few times and I find that I have no job role, I'm just standing around and going up to people asking if they need help.. or doing some cleaning. But nobody is telling me what to do, and I prefer that.. like saying "on this day you do this, that day do this" does anyone understand what I mean? I hate dithering around waiting for someone to show me what to do.. that's another thing, I feel like I'm a burden to the paid staff asking how to do this and that (I can see them sighing and that they are been funny with me), yes I'm a bit of a thicko but I'm trying to learn.. sorry I'm not as fast as you no need to be funny with me ! 

 

and people seem to misunderstand me, like when I make a joke like I made a joke (to help my nerves and break the ice) about sitting on the managers chair and she took it as I was accusing her of sitting at the desk all day.. it wasn't my intention.. or when I was looking for the polish someone came into the kitchen asking if I found it, and I said no but atleast I looked.. (not in a funny way but to show I'm making the effort and ease my nerves) they said something shirty back like "you should bother to go to the supermarket then!".. first of I didn't know I'm allowed as a volunteer to do that, and I didn't know I had to ! 

 

And obviously this has caused great anxiety and panic where I didn't go in for my shift today.. the main problem been I don't have a "defined role" I want to go to work to WORK (which I thought they'd appreciate my work ethic) and not just walk around aimlessly.. if they show me what to do (yes I'm a bit slow but will get it eventually if they are patient and care) like serving customers, answering the phones and booking delivery.. I can do it. 

If they said to me just come in for a few hours to test the electric products, and come in another day to do something else, like cleaning or answering the phones.. I'd be happy with that.. atleast I know what I'm doing and can get on with it, and not feel like I'm in anyone's way and it will just lead to me quitting..

Aspies have great work ethic, it is just finding the right role and job and that takes care and patience.. but once we do we will be a big asset as our work ethic is probably better then some paid staff.

 

Does anyone else understand why I find this difficult? I'm going to see the manager to explain.. 

Edited by Roxy
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Harrow

Your basically doing a sales job. I've had jobs on and off since I was about 15 and for an me it's the one job I can't do. I can't work undefined I need structure. 

You may just be in the wrong job 

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Nesf

I would go and talk to the person who is responsible for you, your supervisor or manager or whatever they are called, and ask them what your duties are. Ask them when it is convenient to speak to them first.

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Roxy
1 hour ago, Harrow said:

Your basically doing a sales job. I've had jobs on and off since I was about 15 and for an me it's the one job I can't do. I can't work undefined I need structure. 

You may just be in the wrong job 

 

I hear ya.. I just want to know what I'm doing and to get on with it.. 

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Heather

I wonder if it's because you are only volunteering and they might not know how much you want to do.  Best thing would be to do as Nesf said and ask to talk to your superviser or manager to ask what they would like you to do.  

I know I have trouble with undefined roles as well. Typically the longer you work somewhere, the more you learn the different things you can do when it's slow.  It's sometimes even hard to teach new people about the little jobs that get done when it is slow but try to ask your superviser when it is slow what other tasks you could do while you wait.  Though it's possible they want you to focus on customers and talking to customers and helping make sales so they might not want to give you too many extra tasks.  I know it is awkward not doing anything because you don't want to look lazy and it is also hard to ask someone if there is more to do.  Hopefully you know who your superviser is and that they are always present at least for a good portion of the day so that you can talk to them.

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Roxy
27 minutes ago, Nesf said:

I would go and talk to the person who is responsible for you, your supervisor or manager or whatever they are called, and ask them what your duties are. Ask them when it is convenient to speak to them first.

I'm going to speak to them, but I sometimes find it hard to express everything face to face (words don't come out the way I want them too).. so let's hope I can explain that I want to help and work but just don't want to be standing around not learning/doing anything and having small-time with other staff (which I'm sure she will appreciate) if I'm just standing around I'd rather be at home in my safe place.. time goes slower too when you are doing nothing.

Edited by Roxy
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Joie6

 

10 minutes ago, Roxy said:

 ... I sometimes find it hard to express everything face to face (words don't come out the way I want them too)...

 I totally understand you !! I reckon you should get straight to the point. Be direct with them.

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Roxy
13 minutes ago, Joie6 said:

 

 I totally understand you !! I reckon you should get straight to the point. Be direct with them.

Should I take a piece of paper with my concerns on with me just incase? 

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Joie6

I don't really know... Maybe you can read it and remember key points before talking.

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Nesf
4 hours ago, Roxy said:

I'm going to speak to them, but I sometimes find it hard to express everything face to face (words don't come out the way I want them too).. so let's hope I can explain that I want to help and work but just don't want to be standing around not learning/doing anything and having small-time with other staff (which I'm sure she will appreciate) if I'm just standing around I'd rather be at home in my safe place.. time goes slower too when you are doing nothing.

If I were you. I'd write it all down first and rehearse it, perhaps get someone to help you. Writing things down helps to sort things out in your mind and you'll feel more confident once you have it all mapped out what you want to say.

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Roxy

I'd rather go in for a few hours a week and do something I'm good at (like testing the electrical equipment) rather then spend more time (like the whole day) standing around aimlessly hoping to be teached things, or going up to paid staff asking how to do something and getting a shirty (in my head) reply like "can't you see I'm busy now?" or "I'm busy I'll be with you soon" and seeing them sighing really makes me nervous/adds to my anxiety/panics.. I feel like I'm a burden more then an asset and that's making me lose confidence as I just want to help and learn.. I've got a good work ethic but I need approachable and patient people who are going to put in the time to help me learn.

 

I don't mind doing other jobs while doing that (if a paid staff asks me to help them do something else for example), but as long as I know what I'm doing on that day primarily, I'll be happy, won't lose confidence and won't quit if that makes sense? 

 

I'm gonna explain to the manager that if they haven't got the time to teach me in the shop assistant areas (like answering the phone, doing check-ins, serving customers etc) then I'd rather just come in and crack on with the thing I'm good at (testing the electrical equipment or cleaning the store floor) as atleast I'm not losing confidence by standing around.. it is boring and makes the day go longer, plus makes me feel worthless/not valued as I don't have a role or not trained enough to do it yet.. 

 

Then I'm willing to spend time to learn the other areas of the job like say coming in on another day for an hour or so if they are willing to show me (when it best for them when they are not so busy). Or at the end or beginning of the day.

 

Does that seem fair to anyone else? or am I been bossy? don't want it coming out wrong.. =(

Edited by Roxy
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Nesf
2 hours ago, Roxy said:

Does that seem fair to anyone else? or am I been bossy? don't want it coming out wrong

That does seem reasonable to me - I would tell them straight out that you came here to help, but you feel that you're not productive and you're not sure what your role is - ask them to give you some duties, make a list of those duties.

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collectingrocks

Usually, there is no defined job role as you are a volunteer and be expected to help out in any part of the store as required. Just shows weak management if you aren't given jobs to do. However, it does become difficult under the "Health & Safety" policy as there are certain duties volunteers would not be allowed to do, but this depends of course on the type of business. 

In the healthcare industry, hospital volunteers are valued and essential to the patient experience, such as if they are "welcomers" at the front entrance and signpost patients to where they need to go. 

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Roxy

The new manager was lovely she understood me and gave me jobs to do.. but problem is she isn't there all the time and the other paid staff are more harshee and less helpful like sarcastic replies etc 

 

does anyone respond better to a person who is the arm around the shoulder type? Like I feel when the other workers say I'm doing something wrong they are telling me off or talking down to me. But the manager does it in a more cheery way which I respond better too so she gets a better work ethic from me. It's all about tone of voice 

Because of my Asperger and depression I find it hard to take constant criticism when I'm no getting enough rewards from it in terms of meeting people as the other staff don't make the effort with me if I didn't talk to them they wouldn't talk to me etc 

 

thats why I'm giving it up I think 

 

Edited by Roxy

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Gone home

If you are feeling somethings not right then thats likely how it is. I would trust my instincts on that one.

I experienced some extreme poor treatment and naively stayed in a situation for far too long. It was very damaging

1 hour ago, Roxy said:

 

does anyone respond better to a person who is the arm around the shoulder type?

I think I do. I prefer to feel I am working 'with' people rather than 'for' them. I always take issue with people who have power issues and abuse their position.

If you think its not just a bad week or whatever and  its best to go, then its better to leave before the situation damages you.
I guess you are still in the trial period seeing whether it works for you or not.

You can always try somewhere else as you owe them nothing. Not every placement will be suitable but each experience can be learned from and will be character and skill building


I don't know if your colleagues are aware that you are autistic, but some people once aware will make all kinds of assumptions and treat you weirdly if they know - due to their own ignorance. 

Well done for giving it a go! :) Whether you stay or go it was a good achievement in itself

Edited by Gone home
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Roxy
15 hours ago, Gone home said:

If you are feeling somethings not right then thats likely how it is. I would trust my instincts on that one.

I experienced some extreme poor treatment and naively stayed in a situation for far too long. It was very damaging

I think I do. I prefer to feel I am working 'with' people rather than 'for' them. I always take issue with people who have power issues and abuse their position.

If you think its not just a bad week or whatever and  its best to go, then its better to leave before the situation damages you.
I guess you are still in the trial period seeing whether it works for you or not.

You can always try somewhere else as you owe them nothing. Not every placement will be suitable but each experience can be learned from and will be character and skill building


I don't know if your colleagues are aware that you are autistic, but some people once aware will make all kinds of assumptions and treat you weirdly if they know - due to their own ignorance. 

Well done for giving it a go! :) Whether you stay or go it was a good achievement in itself

The new manager she really works well with me, very cheery and smiley.. praises me when I do something right.. she gives me defined jobs to do like "can you help me with this" or "can you do this for me?" and I love it.. but sometimes she's off or at another place and I'm left with the other staff, who basically ignore me (don't speak to me unless I speak to them types don't make an effort with me or to get to know me) and don't give me defined roles so I'm basically a burden as I'm trying to do things but getting in their way so they are getting annoyed with me..

They phoned me yesterday (obviously to see why I didn't go in) but I couldn't speak on the phone to them.. have you got any advice at how I explain this to the new manager? I can't find the e-mail online.. I don't want that "awkwardness" of seeing them in town etc.

Thanks for your advice. 

I know what you mean.. it is like they expect me to be weird just because I have autism.. it's incredibly hurtful and makes me feel treated like a second class citizen.. that's how I feel (with my senses) they are judging me.

There is ways how to talk to people.. like instead of "can you make sure you don't fold the papers when you put them back in the draw as it's getting untidy" infront of EVERYONE (all my colleagues etc) in a really "telling you off" kind of way that makes me feel stupid.. (and loses confidence at getting scolded constantly when I'm trying ! I don't need that constantly on top of my own problems/depression etc especially when they are not making an effort socially with me to get to know me so I'm not getting any rewards from it to put up with it) you could make a joke about it in a better tone for me to get the message.. or pull me aside one-to-one later on to tell me don't embarrass me infront of everyone ! 

Edited by Roxy

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Gone home

In my experience people like your manager are the minority.

She sounds a brilliant colleague - positive, caring and insightful,  but they tend to be the exception.
Most workers don't have much genuine interest in employee morale or awareness of other peoples best interests.

3 hours ago, Roxy said:

they expect me to be weird just because I have autism.. it's incredibly hurtful and makes me feel treated like a second class citizen.. that's how I feel (with my senses) they are judging me

I think that's part of the problem disclosing autism at the outset. Some people will judge what they 'imagine' your condition to be - rather than you yourself / who you are. They will be focusing unhelpfully.  'Unconditional positive regard' isn't something everyone understands or wants to practice.

You feel (as I have) 'ostracised'. If this doesn't change quickly its unlikely you will feel you 'fit in'  - and it may be best to see it as a stepping stone to somewhere else / new pastures.

Its early days, and depression can certainly make us very sensitive to potential negatives / tones of voice / potential rejection etc. (when we are trying to be positive) ... Work is always a behavioural compromise at many levels -  but my view is - do you feel reasonably welcome or not? They are contracted and paid to be there - Your attendance is voluntary, based on good will and some personal return

Its your choice and there are lots of other volunteering opportunities out there with different tasks and groups of people.

I stayed at a work placement where I did not feel welcome. It was a huge mistake on my part and down to my low confidence and insecurities around being out of work. I initially thought I was acting out of self preservation, that I could challenge them and tough it out till things got better - but It just got exponentially worse and I really felt trapped. Though it seemed impossible at the time the best thing would have been for  me to walk away at the early signs. Its a tough call to make ... I think anyone else would have, but part of my condition (excess tenacity / commitment) went against me.
It was a placement where they did not want to know me as a person,  or know anything about me - that should have been the cue / red flag to go as it ended up being how the company functioned throughout.

 I think its important to 'time stamp' go or stay decisions ... probationary trial periods are theoretically there for that reason. I suppose its like trying different foods/dishes - some will be OK and some horrible.

I would contact your manager. If you can't do this directly maybe phone head office  to ask for her email or mobile number - If they query the reason just explain you need to pass some sensitive information on to her personally.
Maybe discuss the situation with your manager and try to explain about where things are working well for you and the issues that are making you wonder whether its wise to stay or not.
You seem to have a decent viewpoint regarding effort v return so I would trust your instincts - but most importantly pat yourself on your back and see the situation as a success even if you do move on to try different placements. Its only natural that we will be better suited to some environments than others and its perfectly normal to move around to where we feel reasonably comfortable / accepted and the places can change at different times in life.


Good luck and most importantly well done! :)

Edited by Gone home
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Roxy
On 9/19/2017 at 12:51 PM, Gone home said:

In my experience people like your manager are the minority.

She sounds a brilliant colleague - positive, caring and insightful,  but they tend to be the exception.
Most workers don't have much genuine interest in employee morale or awareness of other peoples best interests.

I think that's part of the problem disclosing autism at the outset. Some people will judge what they 'imagine' your condition to be - rather than you yourself / who you are. They will be focusing unhelpfully.  'Unconditional positive regard' isn't something everyone understands or wants to practice.

You feel (as I have) 'ostracised'. If this doesn't change quickly its unlikely you will feel you 'fit in'  - and it may be best to see it as a stepping stone to somewhere else / new pastures.

Its early days, and depression can certainly make us very sensitive to potential negatives / tones of voice / potential rejection etc. (when we are trying to be positive) ... Work is always a behavioural compromise at many levels -  but my view is - do you feel reasonably welcome or not? They are contracted and paid to be there - Your attendance is voluntary, based on good will and some personal return

Its your choice and there are lots of other volunteering opportunities out there with different tasks and groups of people.

I stayed at a work placement where I did not feel welcome. It was a huge mistake on my part and down to my low confidence and insecurities around being out of work. I initially thought I was acting out of self preservation, that I could challenge them and tough it out till things got better - but It just got exponentially worse and I really felt trapped. Though it seemed impossible at the time the best thing would have been for  me to walk away at the early signs. Its a tough call to make ... I think anyone else would have, but part of my condition (excess tenacity / commitment) went against me.
It was a placement where they did not want to know me as a person,  or know anything about me - that should have been the cue / red flag to go as it ended up being how the company functioned throughout.

 I think its important to 'time stamp' go or stay decisions ... probationary trial periods are theoretically there for that reason. I suppose its like trying different foods/dishes - some will be OK and some horrible.

I would contact your manager. If you can't do this directly maybe phone head office  to ask for her email or mobile number - If they query the reason just explain you need to pass some sensitive information on to her personally.
Maybe discuss the situation with your manager and try to explain about where things are working well for you and the issues that are making you wonder whether its wise to stay or not.
You seem to have a decent viewpoint regarding effort v return so I would trust your instincts - but most importantly pat yourself on your back and see the situation as a success even if you do move on to try different placements. Its only natural that we will be better suited to some environments than others and its perfectly normal to move around to where we feel reasonably comfortable / accepted and the places can change at different times in life.


Good luck and most importantly well done! :)

 

I think the more I push myself to improve, the more hurt I get.. like it is hard to explain but imagine you have nobody, no friends, no partner, no family close by and you are really trying hard to make friends and be part of a team.. but you find it difficult as you feel lost (no idea on how to achieve this). My way of dealing with my depression and issues is to shut off from the World, and I know that isn't healthy, but I can just about cope and don't get hurt like when I "put myself out there" and out my comfort zone. Maybe this makes me a coward I don't know? =( 

So any little criticism would upset me. Yes I'm sensitive but I think anyone would be in my position, NT or not.. atleast I'm trying ! 

 

Like you said, the manager is really making the effort and likes me, so do I owe it to her to continue? she's probably putting her neck on the line to find me a role, she told her manager how well I'm doing etc..

 

I e-mailed the place I work, with only her to read in the title (the other staff probably have read it but don't care) and said how I feel and that maybe I could do a job (testing the electrical/gadget equipment for example) that doesn't require me to constantly ask for help or have to interact with certain snappy staff (and if she or other staff need my help they can come get me).. I'll suggest this as a compromise as atleast I'm helping, getting out and still available to do other jobs (when I'm needed to) but I have a job I'm confident doing, I don't have to interact with certain staff, and I'm helping. I'm going to talk about that option as a compromise.

The manager e-mailed me back to say to go in for a chat (I'm trying to see if we can chat about it on the phone instead as don't feel confident going in) to see her and she would be sad to lose me.

 

Thanks for your kind words I appreciate them :) 

Edited by Roxy
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Sanctuary

If I were you I would certainly carry on with this role, at least for the time being. It's certainly good that the manager is very supportive and it would be good to reward her faith in you by carrying on. Dropping out is a risky thing to do because it may make getting and keeping another role more difficult - not necessarily because anyone will hold it against you but because dropping out can become a habit. Clarifying your role would certainly be helpful to you and to them - they should want you doing the things you are most effective at doing.

While accepting that social contact and work can be causes of stress I feel that overall they help in dealing with depression, if only because they take your mind off other worries and keep you busy. Clearly there are occasions when the social contact or work makes things worse and in those cases pulling out makes sense but even then it's best to find some other role. Hopefully your current volunteering will be successful once the problems you've mentioned are ironed out and you can use it as a platform for further development. 

Edited by Sanctuary
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