The relationship with your QA or instructor is either one of great learning or a constant battle. Often you decide which it will be. Having the right attitude and respect makes all the difference in the world. Here is some common sense advice that will make your life easier.
Getting negative feedback is no fun. As a student it affects your grade. As a working MT it will affect your job. Few things can damage the instructor-student or QA-MT relationship faster than arguing against a correction. Rarely does this end in the MT/student’s favor. There is one thing to remember. Your instructor or QA is your ally. Their goal is to help you succeed, but their goal is also to ensure quality work. They are your superiors in the workflow chain. Give them that respect.
Usually what happens is the MT or student will put their guard up any time they see negative feedback. The MT/student goes into attack mode. They will quickly shoot off an email that goes on the offensive. Some even argue that their negative grade/score is the fault of the instructor or QA. The end result is confrontation, negativity, and decreased future communication. It just makes no common sense to engage in this type of interaction. Do it on the job too much and hello unemployment line.
You must realize upfront that chances are the mistake is yours. Always start the process with “I must have made a mistake. What should I have done differently?” If after going through the process of reading the feedback, researching it, and reviewing past work you still have questions, then now is the time to ask questions in a respectable manner.
Instructors and QA are humans and do make mistakes. It happens. If you expect them to be kind with their comments when you make a mistake, then you must do the same when you feel they make a mistake. No one would accept a QA or instructor calling them an idiot; however, it is surprising how often the reverse is done.
If you honestly feel the QA/instructor made a mistake with their feedback or you do not understand something, then go ahead and ask a question. The goal is to learn. You should never ignore feedback you do not understand. That is not learning. Acknowledge what they said and that you heard it and then explain why you think you could have been correct. Ask for clarification.
“I noticed that you told me to capitalize aspirin (acknowledgement of their feedback), but the BOS says on page XXX to keep generic names lowercase (showing that you have researched the issues). I left aspirin lower case due to it being a generic, so I am not sure how I was wrong (you explain your rationale). Could you clarify this for me (non-confrontational request for help)?”
If you approach the situation correctly, you will be amazed at the results. You will show the QA/instructor that you listened to them, researched it, and honestly want to learn. They will respond in kind.
QA/Instructors are Not a Research Resource
QA is not a research resource. They are not there to research for you. They do not have the time and it is your job anyway. Before you send work to QA, you are expected to have researched the issue thoroughly. Just sending blanks to QA in order to ensure you have good line counts is an excellent way to become unemployed.
The issue of instructors is a bit touchier as their goal is to teach you. Everyone reading this is mature enough to understand what I am saying here. With that in mind, it is important to accept that you should be researching your questions thoroughly before asking your instructor. It is a great practice to prove this when asking for help. “I am having issues with when to make a list versus when to use paragraph form. In BOS, page XXX it says… but I just do not get it. When I did this on the practice transcription, the feedback said I did it wrong.”
Way too often people immediately go to their QA or instructors for every little question. Reading the questions, it is clear that they did little or nothing to find the answer themselves. This ends up wasting the other person’s time and fails to improve your research skills. It also really, really annoys the other person and shows them that you are not able to think critically or research effectively. They want to help you but want to know that you are doing your fair share in the process.
So yes, they are there when you need help but use them responsibly.
The QA/Instructor has the Final Say
This one was hard for me at times. Sometimes you will get a response of “Technically you are right, but this is just the way it is done here.” Usually the MT/student escalates this without realizing that the other person is adhering to industry standards or client specifics. Both have the final say, especially the client. It is not uncommon at all to have a client demand something that is technically wrong. Accept that it happens. Your employer does not like it, the QA does not like it, but it is what it is. From the business side we all want every account to have the exact same client specifics because it would greatly increase productivity and make training easier, but it does not happen. You can either argue and not have the job or accept that you are filling contractual obligations set by a client who has the final say. From a student standpoint it is sometimes hard to accept that your gut instinct is not what the industry demands. Accept it, make the change, and move on.
So there you have it in a nutshell. If you can master these areas, you will be just fine.
Chad Sines, MS, MBA, AHDI-F
Director of Admissions