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Tired of covering for a late co-worker

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in Your Office Coach

“One of our co-workers, “Bob,” regularly comes in quite late. Until he gets here, the rest of us have to answer his phone and deal with callers’ problems. Bob is taking advantage of a nice boss who is not a micromanager. Our boss knows that Bob is usually late, but he hasn’t said anything to him. What should we do?” — Tired of Bob

Marie’s Answer: Bob is not the only problem here. Everyone is also supporting his habitual lateness. If you want Bob’s behavior to change, consider these points:

Your “nice boss who is not a micromanager” is a major part of this problem. By tolerating Bob’s tardiness, he sends the message that being late is acceptable. Your boss may be a lovely person, but he’s a wimpy manager.

Bob’s slacker behavior is also being reinforced by you and your co-workers. While he sleeps late and has an extra cup of coffee, you’re taking care of his job. As long as other co-workers cover his calls, neither Bob nor your boss will feel the effects of his absence.

Nothing will change unless someone talks to Bob. One option is for you and your co-workers to flatly state that you are tired of his tardiness and will no longer cover for him. Alternatively, you can go as a group to your nice manager and ask him to address the issue.

On the other hand, you could all just start arriving at the same time as Bob. That should get your boss’s attention pretty quickly.

For some Office Coach pointers on discussing performance issues, see Ten Steps to an Exceptional Coaching Discussion

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