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Unproductive co-workers

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Question: I work in an office with three other administrative people. One of the other admins and I have a good work ethic: We need to keep busy (and we are very busy), and have significant responsibility. The other two people do not have enough to do. Therefore, they're on the Internet, they make personal phone calls, and they visit a lot.

One of these two people is also not a team player. She will not sort/deliver mail if someone is absent, won't do a room set-up and won't offer help to others.

The other productive person and I talked to our boss two weeks ago. She admitted that she's aware of all that is going on and knows that the other two admin people do not have enough to do. I believe she is trying to find more work for them, but I queston whether it will really happen.

We don’t know where to go from here. We have suggested having phone reports run on these two people but our boss does not seem to want to do this.

The real problem is that, when I see them talking or on the Internet, I get very angry. I need some help in handling this problem, because even though I love my job, I don’t even want to come in to work anymore.  -- Totally frustrated


Is there a way you can be further separated physically from the two distracting people? The boss has been made aware and to push it further could mark you as a complainer. Since you can only worry about your own performance, removing yourself from the distraction seems a good choice. Perhaps you could ask the boss if you (and maybe the other productive person) could both move to a less distracting location. (Or perhaps the other two admins could be moved closer to the boss, where she would be constantly reminded they need more to do.)
Good luck!

You've done all you can, so LET IT GO. Their job performance is not your responsibility. The boss is aware of the situation, so if you keep complaining you will probably be seen as a whiner. This is your chance to make yourself SHINE! You can only look good compared to them and that should help you at evaluation time. It would also be a good example for the slackers.

I, too, agree that if you continue to speak to your boss, you may end up being marked a "complainer". I know it is hard, but you just keep doing your good job (keep your back yard in order) and try real hard not to worry about others (back yards). I can promise you will win in the long run! Good luck and stary happy!

Disperse the work so that everyone is equal to avoid resentment.

I have to agree with Diana and June. You've done what you can and if the boss is aware of it, drop it. It will only come back to you as the problem. Enjoy your job and know that you are doing your best and that's what counts. I've been there as have a lot of us.

Don't give the slackers so much power over you. You have more than enough to keep you busy, so don't let toxic emotions get in the way of your own productivity. Your anger doesn't give them more work, or make them more productive. It only stifles you.

I definitely agree with the others about not constantly going to your boss about the situation. Your boss will look at you as a chronic complainer.

I too have experienced that in my office. I know it doesn't seem right or fair but unfortunately that's the reality of it all.

Just continue to do your work and learn to ignore the negative things around you. If you don't, you will have a very difficult time coming to work. It will just eat away at you everyday. And the worst thing about it is you will be the only one who is unhappy. The one that is not pulling the load will continue to have a wonderful day.

If you can't allow yourself to ignore the situation, then maybe you need to look for employment elsewhere.

I agree with the comments about being labled a complainer so take it carefully. I would suggest that you and the other worker come up with some solutions for your boss on how to make things more evenly distributed in the workload instead of having your boss take it upon herself to come up with the solutions. Your boss may need a direction on how to distribute the workload more evenly and since you two are the admins who better knows what needs to be done, the length of time it needs to be accomplished and how. I would also suggest for the slacker(s) and non teamplayers (with your bosses approval) to place a monthly roster up along with a backup (backup is used only if the assigned person for the month is out sick otherwise if the person is on vacation the month she is assigned she can be moved to another month). The assigned Admin for that month will have the duty to be the back up in case someone is out this would mean if the non team player is assigned that month she would be responsible to do the mail, setup for conferences etc. because someone else is out sick. Good Luck

I really have to wonder if you have these feelings because you are jealous. The fact that this bothers you so much that you would leave a job you love is just ridiculous. Maybe you would like to come into work, check your personal e-mail, and call one of your friends up, I mean who wouldn’t, right? You saying you do not even want to come to work anymore proves that jealously is a very powerful emotion. Do not let this get the best of you!

Your boss has made it clear that she knows what is going on, and you really have to leave it up to her to handle, that is her job, not yours. Complaining just makes you look like a tattletale and one thing many people do not like in an office is a tattletale.

Just remember, you can only control yourself, so keep your head up and show others what you can do, not what others can’t do.

I wouldn't feel as though I were complaining, but more along the lines of "Informing". Now that you know your boss is well aware of the situation, keep track of everything you do on a daily basis so when evaluation time comes around you'll shine. Or how about getting the other admins involved by asking for their assistance or thoughts on a project. Truly, one must feel sorry for the people out there that are satisfied with a mundane life and do not know the pleasure of self-fulfillment on the job.

I strongly suggest you leave well enough alone. You have informed your boss and she has stated that she knows they aren't busy and need work to do. If you come across as a "complainer", you may find your boss giving your responsibilities to the slackers. Persons in an office can deal with a "slacker", a "complainer" is a different story.

See this situation as a "challenge"! Challenge yourself to seek the highest professional image, performance and demeanor ever. You are going to not only do your job well, but you are going to continue to seek opportunities to grow and become even better at what you do.

Seek educational opportunities within and outside of your employer that will stretch you skills or enhance them. Concentrate on being the very best admin professional around.

Use positive self-talk, readings, music, even cartoons that empower or encourage you to the highest level of success. And keep in mind, that all you do daily (in public) and outside of the work environment defines the real "you".

Do not give your personal power, joy, or spirit to those who would ridicule or disregard you. And who knows...this may just be a training ground for something fabulous on the horizon. Some one is watching "YOU"!!!

I know because it happened to me.

I have to agree with the others. If you were to be viewed as a "complainer" would that be worth all the aggrevation and hard work? Of course not because you complete all your work assigned and promote teamwork. You want your supervisor to see only good things in you and no negative. You have done the right thing to inform your supervisor and I am sure that this is appreciated. To continue to enjoy your job and move forward you must learn to not let this bother you. I would focus on yourself and growing independently because those other employees will eventually (it may take time so patience is key) weed themselves out of a job. Your supervisor may be conseling the others and you are just unaware because it is kept confidential. Do not let your future in this company be affected by the actions of others, that would be a shame.

Life is too short to be so unhappy with your job which is a big part of your life. So if you love your job, don't jeopardize it by worrying about what others are doing or not doing. Life is not always fair but those who are diligent and persistent will usually win out in the long run. Focus on the happiness and satisfaction you receive from knowing you are doing your best.

The others have given you some wonderful advice. Keep in mind, there are "nonproducers" just about anywhere in a given work environment. You can't change them or make management do anything about it. You can only change YOU. Therefore, if you still find yourself being angry at them, you might need to do an emotional evaluation of yourself to find out why you are letting them affect you this way (especially since you no longer want to come to a job you love). I've taken various training courses on anger management, emotional IQ, etc. They're very informative in helping you to understand why you act or react the way you do. I hope this helps in your situation.

I have myself gone thru a very similar situation in a previous position. I mentioned it to by supervisor who then asked me to "track" the two slackers, which I did, every time they got to giggling on the phone with each other, were seen emailing each other, leaving for extended breaks, etc. Within a week my supervisor called me into her office in tears and asked "what am I supposed to do?" I told her that was exactly how I left the office each day, in tears, and that she asked me to track them. She then told me to stop. I guess she had had enough, I knew that feeling all to well. I told her that I would no longer track them, but I did keep a copy of all my messages. From that point I would try to wear my headphones and listen to music and angle my chair so that I wouldn't see them sauntering in and around the office, doing nothing. I almost destroyed my credibility, confidendce and future prospects within the company. I soon was able to apply for a MUCH better position with two other exec assistants that are absolutely wonderful. All the VP's that we work for have stated that we are the best combination they have had in years. Whether things change with the two slackers, or not; you can still look for another position within the company. Don't let what others do, or don't do, destroy you. Hang in there and do your best. Look for opportunities to attend seminars and conferences as a way to boost your energy, take classes to improve your skills, find ways to shine and you will.

Well, everyone has pretty much told you to "let it be." However, I would like to ask you a couple more clarification questions before I post a response. Can you email me at cindy.brock@affordablewords.com? (I promise to keep your email and name completely confidential.)

I have to agree 100% (except the jealousy part). Unless you are the boss, you can only control the work you do, not your peers. I was in the same situation where I became frustrated and brought various issues to my boss with regard to the non-work of another admin. And guess which one of us got fired?

I have to ask: Why are you so focused on other people? How about concerning yourself with your own responsibilities? I would completely understand if the 2 other people are disrupting you from doing your duties. Are they speaking loudly on the telephone? I'm not quite sure how a person can be distracting surfing the internet. Are they going to inappropriate websites?

However, to ask your boss to run telephone reports, I think was overkill. You're essentially coming across as an office spy/snitch. Although your request for these reports may have been sincere, you run the risk of making your boss extremely uncomfortable.

Is there any way some of your duties can be delegated to the other support people? Another thing to think about is maybe this person makes $7 an hour. Their position may have extended periods of down time, due to the lack of responsibilities.

Don't get me wrong, I completely understand how you feel. However, I think by keeping yourself aware of what others are doing is only adding to your frustration. Bottom line: Stay focused on what you need to do to satify your boss. It's only been 2 weeks since you've expressed your opinion to your supervisor. Give it a little more time. Things may change for the better.

I understand this issue from both perspectives. I used to be the perceived "slacker", but what my co-workers didn't know was that it might have taken me four hours to do what it took them eight. Other times, I did have more down time than others, but I felt that since they were not signing my paycheck, then it was none of their concern.

Further in time, I find myself on the other side of the coin. My department has merged with another, so that means much more work for the same bucks. There is a person who sits next to me, who takes "taking it easy" to the next level. She holds marathon personal calls on her desk and cell phones, at the same time! She plays loud cd's on her pc and surfs the internet in plain view of everyone. She has one major duty to distribute the checks biweekly, but she always takes her lunch period around the time that people come for the checks.

You have to ask yourself, if this person's behavior is directly causing you to miss your own deadlines or impeding your work in any way. If it is then my advice would have been to mention that to her, first. Then mention it to the boss if it happened again. If it's just a matter of you being bothered by "seeing" your coworker, then you have to tell yourself that it's none of your business.

As far as filling in for others and delivering mail goes, it it's her option then there's nothing you can do. If it's not an option then you have to speak directly to her about it. Good luck!

I agree with those who tell you not to be perceived as a constant complainer. My suggestion would be to have a "support staff responsibilities" chart listing the duties that each person is expected to do and who her backup will be. You would have to have buy-in from the boss, but with everybody's responsibilities in writing, the "slackers" would be put on notice that they would have to work if they wanted good performance reviews. Of course, there may be other reasons that the "slackers" get away with doing nothing, but that cannot be your concern. You need to expand your skills, apply for a transfer to another department (if that is feasible) and be on the lookout for other opportunities.

I don't think you're a complainer or a whiner, at all. I sense that all four of you are on the same level (same kind of work and same salary) and they're slacking off while you and your co-worker are "always very busy." That must be infuriating. You were right to bring it to someone's attention, because if it's affecting your workload and the productivity of your unit, then it IS your business. The only uncertain factor is your boss - is she competent and fair enough to do something to equalize the situation? If not, I'd do two things: 1) Make sure management knows how hard you two are working. You can volunteer information about how much you've accomplished in a week, mention your accomplishments verbally, or hand-deliver projects to a boss, letting her know who did all the work, or you can do a portion and let them know that one of the other workers will be giving them the other portion (then, if it isn't done in a timely way, there will be consequences). Management mostly never changes anything that doesn't impact them negatively, so you have to make sure management feels the consequences of the situation - that will goad them to action like nothing else; 2) Make sure you're not "covering" for them subconsciously. Some people attract work to themselves and watch in wonder when others deflect all work requests with a smile and shake of the head and an "I'm busy." Try to cultivate more of that, and see if you can become more of what I call a "telflon" worker. Some of that extra work might bounce off you and on to them in the process! Good luck!

I say, it is a job. It pays your bills. Get over it. You must not be too busy if you know the other girl's business. Do your job and go home everyday to "love" your real life.

It sounds like you are between a rock and a hard place. Where I am employed we are also going through that with a co-worker. When you have a boss (such as we do) who won't do anything about it and is aware of the problem and it could cause hard feelings if you say anything to the "slacker" it would probably be better to grin and bear it. It is going to be hard but concentrate on your work to get it done. If the boss won't do anything what can you do?

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