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Is the office procrastinator driving you up a wall?

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in Your Office Coach

Question: “What do you do about a co-worker who never completes anything on time? I’m an administrative assistant, and one person who reports to my boss is always late with his paperwork.  His expense accounts are now three months overdue. Our manager is very unhappy about this, but I don’t think she has said anything to him. I constantly remind him about deadlines, but he usually ignores me. I’m ready to stop helping him and let him hang himself. What should I do?” — Tired of Nagging

Marie's Answer: Even though this procrastinator is annoying, his chronic tardiness apparently doesn't interfere with your own work. So let me suggest that this is really his problem, not yours.

Here's what to consider: 

•    If your slacker colleague gets in trouble, it will be due to his own negligence, not your failure to fix him. Although you feel that he should be more conscientious, he doesn't seem to care.  

•    You say you’re ready to stop helping him. That’s perfectly fine, because he’s not your responsibility. Since he hasn’t requested assistance, why waste your energy on all those reminders?  After all, you’re not paid to be his Mom.  

•    Your boss, however, is paid to be his manager. If she’s unhappy about overdue reports, then she needs to demand better performance. Until she sets clear expectations and holds him accountable, this guy’s not going to change.  

•    If your manager ever makes you the official deadline monitor, then she needs to explain that role to your colleagues. But until that happens, you might as well concentrate on your own responsibilities.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Sheri December 18, 2008 at 8:54 am

I have the same problem as Lisa except I have more than one resident procrastinator. One of them happens to be the boss. Most months their procrastination causes my report to be pushed to the deadline, which causes me to have to rush to complete it on time. It’s hard to have the boss enforce the deadline when he’s one of the problems.

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Lisa Gregory December 17, 2008 at 2:35 pm

I wish I had an answer for you. I too am an admistrative assistant. My resident procrastinator causes me to miss occasional corporate deadline and always carry things right down to the wire. My boss says…”What are we going to do? That’s just he way he is”. The boss needs to buck up and get the guy straight. It won’t happen without the support of your boss.

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