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Your Office Coach

Want to make poor performance last forever? Cover for it

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Q: "After asking my boss for additional help, I was thrilled when he hired a young man in his early twenties. My excitement was short-lived, however, because 'Jeff' is both inexperienced and lazy. He arrives late, does sloppy work, texts his friends constantly, and occasionally falls asleep. When I gave him a project he didn’t want to do, he called in sick. 

"Even though I’m the office manager, Jeff reports directly to my boss. I have all the responsibility for his work, but no authority over him. I got tired of nagging and correcting his errors, so now I’m doing most of his work myself. 

"After other employees began complaining, I finally mentioned Jeff’s behavior to my boss. However, he didn't believe a word I said. What do I do now?"  Sick of Jeff

A: Your boss doesn’t believe you because Jeff’s incompetence hasn’t caused him any pain. By doing the work yourself, you’ve kept everything running smoothly. Instead of continuing to cover for this young slacker, you must allow your manager to experience his ineptitude firsthand.

Your boss is Jeff’s supervisor, so step back and let him supervise. Stop taking over Jeff’s tasks and fixing his mistakes. When people complain, have them contact your boss directly. And if Jeff falls asleep, don’t wake him up. Eventually, your manager will begin to see the light.

If you are asked to help solve the problem, let your boss know that you must have more authority. For example: “If you want me to monitor Jeff’s performance, then you need to tell him that I'm supervising his work. Otherwise, he will ignore everything I say.”

Once Jeff begins to cause problems for your manager, it won’t be long before either his performance improves or he completely self-destructs.

Performance issues can sometimes be puzzling. Here are some clues to help figure them out: What Causes Performance Problems?

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