The Tutoring Manifesto will be a multi-part series about what tutor.com
can and should do to make tutoring a better experience for tutors. I will create a new post regularly (not sure exactly how regularly.) Feel free to post any items that you think would be good additions to the list, but be sure that it follows the theme of the original post.
By now, most of you have gotten the email that has outlined that most of the percentage violations are coming back. There have been some minor changes, but for the most part, the other shoe has dropped. I have a lot of issues with this email - not just the content, but the presentation. There is a lot going on in this email, so let's unpack it.
1) Beginning on September 1st 2020, we have resumed the tracking and issuing of advisories for policy violations.
If I could change 1 thing about this email, it would be the effective date. This isn't the first time tutor.com
has done this; said "effective yesterday," or some other date in the past, this is happening. Like, have any of you ever been in management outside of an "education" company? You can't freaking do that! You can't make things effective a day in the past! Who does that? In all my years of work, this is the ONLY COMPANY that has EVER DONE THAT! Shame on you, tutor.com
! How can you tell us ON SEPTEMBER 2 that something goes into effect on SEPTEMBER 1? Thanks for giving us time to prepare! You know, I added all those sessions under the pretext that the violation advisory wasn't in effect. And then you tell me AFTER THE FACT? What if I don't even read my email until the 3rd? Or until the end of the day on the 2nd? Now whatever I did on the 1st and 2nd potentially mucks up my percentages and I have to work from behind now to get the percentages back up. What, you didn't know you were reinstating the advisories until the 2nd? I'm sure you knew before that! SO WHY DID YOU WAIT TO TELL US! That doesn't even account for the fact that the hours on my schedule were put there over a week before, so it's really not a question of a day or two, you're over a WEEK LATE on this email. You people run this company like a bunch of freaking kangaroos! KANGAROOS I TELL YOU! The appropriate thing to do would have been to make the effective date October 1. Reinstatement of these advisories requires time to plan for many reasons.
2) The purpose of the suspension was to give all of us at Tutor.com the opportunity to adjust and adapt to the challenges and stress we were no doubt all experiencing.
You DID NOT make that clear when you suspended the advisories. Here is what you said in the email of 3/30/2020: "We are currently navigating uncharted waters during the COVID-19 pandemic. This has, and continues to be a challenging time for everyone, and there are many stressors that go along with this situation. Quarantine, school closures, and interruptions in our routine can feel very overwhelming. We will no doubt achieve balance and a new normal despite these many changes, but this will require time, trial and error, adaptability, and flexibility! Because of this, we will be suspending our Violation Advisories until further notice. We understand that many of you will be going through changes and adjustments, as we all are, and we know that this may involve a learning curve! In unconventional situations, it is difficult to maintain conventional standards." Nowhere in here does it say "we are suspending advisories until a time we feel you have made changes to your current situation so that you can meet the percentage policies as before the pandemic began." You said "this will require time, trial and error, adaptability, and flexibility!" You didn't say on whose part these would be required. I was under the impression that the reason these advisories were suspended was because our situations had changed so drastically that having these advisories would make many of us unable to do our jobs as expected. It appeared to mean that YOU were going to be flexible and adaptable regarding your expectations of us until the time when society gets out from under the pandemic. You followed it up with, "Because of this, we will be suspending our Violation Advisories until further notice." thus making this appear to be the result of the needed flexibility and all that. Now you are telling us the purpose of the no violation advisories was so *WE* could adjust? You should have cleared up these ambiguities and made it known that you were expecting US to make some kind of change back when you first sent the email regarding the violation advisories being suspended. I'm not saying I'd have been happy about transitioning back, but if you had at least told us that we should be figuring out how to do our jobs "the old way" with the current climate in mind, we could have at least done some preparation and the trial-and-error you mentioned. We understood the removal of the violation advisories to mean "when society returns to normal, so too will our expectations." NOW - One day AFTER the reinstatement, you are telling us the purpose of the removal of violation advisory period was something else entirely? Seriously, what does it mean to you to "manage" a situation? To be proactive and foresee problems so that you have a plan in place to mitigate problems, or to wade into an already difficult situation, flailing about, hoping to make it better, and risking making it worse? Because it seems to me that it is the latter.
3) We have also taken this time to evaluate and reassess these policies to ensure they meet our current needs and standards.
I appreciate you've made some changes, but while you were not notifying us about the purpose of the suspension of advisories, and while you were planning to reinstate them a day BEFORE you even notified us.... did you ever consider that you don't need them at all? Seriously, what happened while you weren't tracking advisories? Were students unable to match with tutors? Did we create a situation where there were all these scheduled hours and insufficient tutors? I don't think that happened. I think the purpose of these advisories is not current needs and standards - it's all about you exerting control over us. This pandemic has shown us that you DON'T REALLY NEED THESE ADVISORIES AT ALL. So why don't you just do away with them?
4) Connection Failure and Max Session Length policy violations will no longer result in formal advisories, but rather will be tracked by our Quality Assurance teams for the purpose of tutor quality evaluation, development, and improvement
. Oh you mean there will be more criteria for our quality specialists to harass us with? Oh goody! Believe me, not getting an excessive session length advisory email for every single time I go 66 minutes because the student kept asking me questions will be great. But what about those of us who haven't had a review in a while? So we got the emails and now our mentors are gonna give us flack, too? Wonderful! Also, I am not sure if this is 100% clear, but the unofficial 5-minute "grace period" between the time you hit the 60-minute mark and the time you get a length exceeded email is probably gone. Yes, now our quality specialists can nickel-and-dime us with this 60 minute limit all they want. They can count all the sessions that went 60 minutes and 4 seconds if they want, and harass us in reviews. Yay!!
5) Online Percentage, Removed Hours, Survey Completion, and Voice Enabled policy violation strikes will now be tracked on a 6-month rolling basis instead of a 12-month rolling basis
. We've already discussed the underpinnings of why this pisses me off in #1, but we haven't gotten to the biggest problem I have with this company: voice sessions. For starters, when I started here I don't think I ever had voice sessions. In making voice sessions required you have changed the function of the job. Voice sessions suck - for starters the tool just sucks and disconnects on me all the time. Secondly, I don't want to talk to people. At all. Like ever. I don't know why these kids want to talk to us so bad. Talking to strangers online always gave me anxiety, even back in the Myspace days. The chat is just so much more comfortable. It's also the best way to hide my frustration with some of these students who clearly know nothing but their for-profit institution takes their money and you expect us to teach them. Now they get to hear in my voice how increasingly annoyed I have been becoming with the level of student I've been getting lately. In chat, I can wait to press "send" so that I can re-read what I typed to make sure it doesn't sound too angry or insulting. But when I'm talking, when students say stuff like, "hurry up" I'm likely to blurt out, "the only hurry up you're gonna get from me is me hurrying up to end this session." It just comes out. But in addition to that, many of us still have noisy environments due to fully remote school, spouses being home as well, and there is still no way for us to conduct voice sessions professionally. Reinstating them at this time makes zero sense. Furthermore, there are many tutors that enjoy and/or prefer voice sessions, perhaps voice works better for their subject. Fine, let THEM handle voice sessions. I agree with the posters in the previous post about voice sessions. Voice sessions should be incentivized to do, not penalized when done not. Those of us who like to do them, can, with a 15% bonus. I think you will find many more tutors with the added 15% who will be more amenable to tutoring voice sessions. In that, you take care of the problem of personal resistance, just like you did when nobody wanted to do concurrent sessions.
, clean up your act. I'm sure you must be aware of the existence of this subreddit by NOW, so I know you must be reading this. We're frustrated with these heavy-handed policies that serve no purpose but to agitate us. We're sick of being notified that policies have taken effect or been reinstated effective a previous date. We're tired of being forced to do voice, which makes this a whole different job. You have a whole spectrum of tutors who have very different lives and situations, so I understand that it may be especially challenging to consider how to manage best all the tutors. That's why you need to do a better job of being proactive. This reactive stuff isn't helping anyone.
So, in terms of these posts, I have now written one to address each of tutor.com
's primary stakeholders. The first was the students, the second, quality specialists, the third, tutors, and this one, management. We all need to do our part to make this a better experience for all, and no group is beyond being asked to make improvements the common cause.
Have I missed a group? Anything to add?
PS, shout out to u/Osopapocho
, no swear words on this one! :-)