Distracting co-worker

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Question: I work in an office where I am in the center of everything, so I can hear and see everything that goes on.  One of my co-workers pretends to work all day but spends most of the time on the phone, and it's all personal calls. I believe that my boss is clueless as to what's going on.

I'm wondering if I need to let my boss know what's going on or continue to do my work and not pay any attention. It's very distracting and discouraging because I do more work than my co-worker and they get paid a whole lot more than I do.  -- Discouraged in Alabama


Comments

I would ask to talk to your boss candidly, and approach it as being a reflection on the company, and hindering productivity. That you don't want to cause problems or be a tattle tale, but think that he should know what is going on. If he doesn't take action, then perhaps he doesn't care and there is nothing else you can do. Make sure you don't sound like you are whining about not being paid as much, and them not pulling their weight. Bring the business concern into the conversation. Good Luck.

It depends on your boss. We have an employee that is the biggest gossip in the building. Cannot keep a secret and her supervisor and the big boss continue to tell her sensitive data. I mentioned to the big boss that she was a gossip and wasted many hours and I have regretted it ever since. I was accused of being mean and disrespectful of the employee. So when I walked in on her watching a movie on her portable DVD player, I didn't say a thing.

There's one (or more) of these in every office. My solution is to do my job, work hard every day, and believe that in the end, these types of people are exposed. It's hard to ignore sometimes but still, I'm responsible for earning MY paycheck and have no control over people who choose to rob their employers by being slackers.

Pay attention to only what affects you. If it is distracting you in getting your work done, that is the only thing you want to bring up with your boss.

Then, leave it up to your boss to say anything to the other employee.

I do agree with some of the other postings, that you should pretty much just worry about your own job. But, I think you are correct in thinking that the boss might be totally unaware of this and might need to know. I would wonder what position you are in and the other person is in because that might make a difference. I am my department's manager's assistant and if I had this sort of problem in my office, I would tell the manager only because I think the relationship between a manager and his/her assistant is a little closer than most. And as an assistant, you are to look after your boss's best interests.

I would go to the H.R. Dept. and have them handle it with your boss.
If they are professional, no one will know where it came form.
Notice I said "If". I did this and it backfired so now they have left themselves open for a discrimination lawsuit.

Just to play devil's advocate, are you SURE that she is not doing her work? What I mean is, does she have a job that requires total focus, or are her tasks mindless enough that she may be working while on the phone? I've had days when I've been able to listen to books on tape and still get my work done quickly and accurately because the tasks are ones I could do in my sleep. It could also be that she does not have enough to do to keep her busy. I have had jobs that go through cycles-sometimes, I'm completely swamped, and other times, I have NOTHING to do. Personally, the only thing I would do at this point is recommend to HR that they look at the workload in the office. If she's not pulling her weight, I'd bet money that the boss is already aware of it.

These situations have to be handled delicately. Do not bring up the fact that this co-worker is paid more than you are, or the boss will think "so your pay is what this is all about." You might subtly suggest that you would hate to see hard working people start leaving the company because of the inefficiencies of one lazy co-worker. Oftentimes complaining about another co-worker can backfire and the co-worker turns the table on you. When this happens you become the subject of being inadequate, you become the "disgruntled employee,” and the boss and the co-worker start looking for "rope to hang you" with. Will you be able to prove that this is a form of retaliation against you for complaining? In the meantime, you will have to be extra careful to do everything right and make no mistakes lest you be hung. If it doesn't work out, start looking for another job.

This sounds like something a boss would like to know, and need to know. In my position as assistant to the president, I've been called out for NOT telling something that I knew. I felt uncomfortable "tattling" so said nothing. But it was explained to me that it is my responsiblity to let the boss know things that could affect the company. I wouldn't say anything about the pay difference, it would make you look petty and vindictive. Instead, approach the subject with your boss as a being a potentially detrimental situation for the company operations, and that you simply want to bring it to his attention. Then drop it - your job is done.

This sounds like something a boss would like to know, and need to know. In my position as assistant to the president, I've been called out for NOT telling something that I knew. I felt uncomfortable "tattling" so said nothing. But it was explained to me that it is my responsiblity to let the boss know things that could affect the company. I wouldn't say anything about the pay difference, it would make you look petty and vindictive. Instead, approach the subject with your boss as a being a potentially detrimental situation for the company operations, and that you simply want to bring it to his attention. Then drop it - your job is done.

I agree with Cathy.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Indeed December 11, 2012 at 2:58 pm

What happens when those constant personal calls become a distraction to your work? This is my situation where we work close together. My co-worker spends all her time on the phone with her family, speaking in a foreign language and her manager refuses to do anything to correct it. So I am left sharing a low wall with this individual, and being constantly distracted by her noisy conversations.

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Kat January 7, 2011 at 3:19 pm

Take care of your own business, and you won’t have time to worry about hers.
Nothing good can come of this. Stay out of it, and let the boss deal with it. He probably does know, just doesn’t want to deal with it. You could spend your time more productively focussing on your own job.

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