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AIBU to be Bothered by Incompetent Fellow Employee

(75 Posts)
ThreeTroikas Sun 21-Jul-13 20:18:38

Name-changed in case identifying details on past threads.

I'm in a Senior position at work. A year ago, a document controller was taken on who is supposed to file documents and do some admin for my role and some others. I must admit being quite surprised when she was taken on, as I knew her slightly as she is the girlfriend of a guy I know, who is friends with a colleague at work. The reason I was surprised she was taken on is that it is a 25k per annum role and she had no relevant experience and no qualifications, not even a single standard grade. She is 24.

Anyway, she is a nice girl and seemed keen so I cast aside my doubts and worked with her. The job isn't really very difficult but it does require some accuracy as otherwise documents I have completed go missing if filed or saved wrongly. And that is what has happened again and again. I have spoken to her about it and showed her what to do so many times she now pretty obviously resents me and looks pissed off when I come to talk to her. She has no consistency in saving documents in the required format with the standard title, hence it appears that I have not completed and signed them off when I have done. My colleague has the same experience, and she says she just does all her own document control and sends off her documents, but it is time consuming to do so, and it begs the question what this woman is doing all day.

Not only that but she has basic literacy problems. Her spelling is terrible, her grammar and syntax don't make much sense and she cannot produce the most simplest of written reports in any kind of respectable form, so I have to rewrite them for her. Again, I have gone over several times, in as clear and sympathetic a way as I can, her mistakes, and provided her with a template and so on. Again, the same mistakes over and over again.

I have raised the issue twice with the big boss but he simply refers me to the colleague who appointed her, who quite clearly doesn't care and just wants me to put up with her "because she is a nice girl" and "she'll get the hang of it in the end".

Its actually causing me stress, because I have to stay late or go in at weekends to check the documents I've had signed off are filed/sent off. And morally, with so much unemployment, I can't see how she deserves this job. I risk coming across as bitter or having a particular issue with her if I press it further I think. Any ideas? Should I look for a new job myself, because its getting to me a bit.

BelleJolie Sun 21-Jul-13 22:09:46

Stop doing her work, as others have said. Also take steps to ensure you have evidence proving that you asked her to do specific tasks (e.g. Follow everything up by email). That way, hopefully her incompetency will be noticed without any chance of it being able to be deflected on to you.

Finola1step Sun 21-Jul-13 22:10:22

Stop doing her work. Make dated notes of when issues arise which directly affect your work. Formally raise the issue with your HR (but purely in terms of the impact it is having on your workload). I strongly suspect that you are going to have to go down the greivance route - not against her but against your line manager for not taking action which has adversely affected your role. Keep lots of notes.

sleepingdragon Sun 21-Jul-13 22:13:26

You could look into constructive dismissal laws. I'm not an HR expert, but having your complaints ignored is a ground for claiming constructive dismissal. If you told HR/ your line manager that you feel forced to find another job and believe you are being constructively dismissed it may spur them into action?! Not sure if you would have needed to raise your complaints more than twice though (so you would need to check this before raising it).

However, (From my experience in the public sector) without the issues with her work being identified in her supervisions and appraisal your company would struggle to uphold an initial disciplinary around capability. From there it is some time, and lots of opportunities for improvement, before someone can be dismissed for issues with their capability to do their job; but it may be that your colleague performs her job better if she is given more training/support to improve?

ImperialBlether Sun 21-Jul-13 22:17:22

Could you double up on the filing so that you keep yourself a copy and leave her to do her own job badly? Arrgh don't know why I suggested that. It's ridiculous. You need to call her on it every time and make sure you're not alone when you do it. If she looks resentful you need to say, "Surely you understand why I'm annoyed by this? Do you realise the implications of something being misfiled?" And wait for an answer.

ThreeTroikas Sun 21-Jul-13 22:45:52

ihearsounds I have a gut feeling that she has moaned about me. Theres a sort of silence now when I approach her and the colleague who appointed her when they are talking together. Which is often. Its highly unprofessional. I know for a fact that there were several experienced document controllers who applied for her position and interviewed, and its clearly a case of work colleague doing a favour for her boyfriend. It just makes me so uncomfortable.

I really did try to get on with her but I think she is jealous of my seniority, but it feels awkward because I knew her slightly socially before she was appointed and it feels awkward. We don't meet up outside work any more and I've lost touch with her boyfriend. She seems to have little respect for what I, or other senior colleagues say to her, and little concept of responsibility or attention to detail. She is, I've come to realise, a spoilt brat, and while she can be friendly at first, there is a whole load of attitude that comes along with that.

I hear what you are all saying with regards to stopping doing her work but (a) I can do it and I like to do a complete job, I get satisfaction out of it and my other colleague does the same and just keeps her head down and a smooth ship running (b) the way things work in this company I wouldn't be surprised if it somehow ended up that I was held responsible for documents not going through and (c) I keep thinking someone else must spot her incompetency and do something about it!

I just find the whole scenario totally bizarre ie someone getting their friend to get their girlfriend a job she isn't qualified for, and the friend actually doing it. Its getting to me, I know it is. It just seems so unfair to those people who could have actually done the job and probably needed it!

ThreeTroikas Sun 21-Jul-13 22:47:57

Sleepingdragon the industry is small and insular in this city, and I don't want my career "sullied" by anything like constructive dismissal, nor do I want to earn a reputation as someone who is difficult to work with and who has problems with fellow employees! I think I risk coming across as a bit of a bitch.

ImperialBlether Sun 21-Jul-13 22:57:59

Well then you have to tread carefully.

Next time she messes up, ask her immediate line manager for a meeting with her. Ask your colleague to be there too.

You need to say (and be backed up) that this just isn't working. Tell him how often this problem is occurring and remind him of the consequences of her doing her job badly. Say that you have often had to cover up for her and this is a waste of the company's money.

Tell him you want the meeting minuted.

Do you think she's incapable of doing it properly or is just not paying attention to detail?

ImperialBlether Sun 21-Jul-13 22:59:22

Reading your posts again, you definitely need to speak to the boss and tell him/her in no uncertain terms what's happening. You have back up with your colleague, don't you?

ThreeTroikas Sun 21-Jul-13 23:21:39

ImperialBleather Tell him you want the meeting minuted

That is a very good idea.

Do you think she's incapable of doing it properly or is just not paying attention to detail?

Shes not capable. She simply doesn't have the requisite level of literacy. Her lack of attention to detail/lack of respect for seniority/advice is more of a symptom of her lack of competence than the cause of it I think.

And yes, I'm pretty sure my colleague will back me up. We have discussed it. English is (my colleague's) third language, and her written English is just about perfect!

I also have another colleague who may back us both up too. She was involved in the interview process for the job and has told me, off the record, that she was astonished at the appointment.

Feeling rather proactive now!

DoJo Sun 21-Jul-13 23:29:01

Is there any way you could make this a pain for someone who needs to pull their finger out? I once had a similar issue and every time I had to do extra work for someone I would e-mail them the details of what I had done and copy in their manager, all in the spirit of professional courtesy and continuous improvement. That way everything would get done the way you want it, but her manager will get a n accurate picture of how bad things are and be inconvenienced by the slew of e-mails, and you will have a record that you have tried to rectify the issue in case you ever need it - a three pronged attack.

Pigsmummy Sun 21-Jul-13 23:30:05


ImperialBlether Sun 21-Jul-13 23:31:36

You could tell HR and announce at the meeting that they will be having a copy of the minutes.

Maybe her boss (her boyfriend's friend?) should be looking to HR to allocate her a different job, where there isn't a reliance on attention to detail. I can understand how a whole system can be useless if things aren't done properly and if someone doesn't have the literacy skills.

Just to make you feel better:

I remember temping a long time ago in a solicitor's office. They were still using typewriters. Not sure whether you're old enough to remember carbon paper, but when multiple copies were made you had to use a rubber or white-out to delete the error on each sheet and then retype. You can imagine the problems this could incur. Anyway, in this office, all of this was ignored by the typists. They used to type the wrong address, use Tippex on the top copy and then retype it. Consequently, nobody had any idea when they read the carbon copy who it was sent to. Best of all, though, was the fact they used to file everything under "M" for Mr, Mrs, Miss, etc. There was literally nothing in any other part of the filing cabinet.

Perhaps there's a vacancy there for her??

ThreeTroikas Sun 21-Jul-13 23:41:40

Best of all, though, was the fact they used to file everything under "M" for Mr, Mrs, Miss, etc. There was literally nothing in any other part of the filing cabinet

Brilliant! Shes not quite that bad! She just saves files in random places when she can't find the correct file, and makes up titles of her own for documents which can be a tad obscure. eg the surname of the user as opposed to the date of the document, but misspelling the user's surname as well!

ImperialBlether Sun 21-Jul-13 23:54:50

She's been to the same school as that other lot, though! For god's sake, how difficult can it be to name files properly? She could even have it stuck on her computer to remind her.

You need to do something. It's too frustrating and there's the risk it will impact on your own professionalism. Go in tomorrow, determined to sort it out!

RedHelenB Mon 22-Jul-13 07:21:45

If the bosses want her then I think it could be you out of a job if you're not careful! let the resentment go - yes it's not fair but that's private industry for you! She doesn't defer to your seniority because it means jack s* to her, she'll keeo her job regardless. Could you apply for a job elsewhere?

KhaosandKalamity Mon 22-Jul-13 07:27:00

I had one of these, when I tried to explain that Facebook was not appropriate when there was a pile of work waiting to be done the response I got was, I shit you not, "That's just not the way I work." Eventually I left because I could not handle fixing her mistakes and she took over my role, which was a more complicated version of what she was failing at already. Definitely stop fixing her work or mark all mistakes and send them back to be redone.

nkf Mon 22-Jul-13 07:28:03

Can you keep batting the work back? Ask her to refile? Ask her to retype? At the moment, you are covering for her and it's making you stressed.

ZenGardener Mon 22-Jul-13 07:40:21

She sounds bloody awful but other people must be affected too. I think you should step back though as I know someone who went through something similar and got accused of harassment/bullying. She probably tells people that you are jealous of her. She will eventually screw up involving someone senior and the shit will hit the fan until then I'd keep my head down and leave her to it. It's not the way it should be though.

Chottie Mon 22-Jul-13 08:18:34

Huge sympathies from me too....... I've been in a similar situation and it is so hard. Either people have an eye for attention to detail or they don't. I really don't think it can be taught.

I don't think you should cover for her as then you have no evidence of her not doing her job and also it is stressful. I would advise treading very softly, you do not want to come over as a hard nosed b*tch who is picking on poor little so-and-so. Make sure everything you say to her is professional and objective. I would mark the mistakes and send them back in a supportive, helping her to do her job kind of way

RichPetunia Mon 22-Jul-13 11:16:22

Sounds to me like the pharmaceutical industry - Contract Research Organisation?

RenterNomad Mon 22-Jul-13 11:33:59

If it is O/G industry, you need the paperwork to be perfect, whether you are fixing prices or reporting, as it is VERY price sensitive, and inaccuracy has big cost implications, as well as regulatory ones. Does your company really want clear and widespread computer evidence of "corrections" (done non- contemporaneously) to your paperwork? Imagine how that will look in the newspapers! Rope in your regulatody compliance people, if your HR lot are so incompetent and complacent! Even if your company is innocent, the constant corrections to her files could look really bad, and your complaints could save them. They need to thank you, not treat you like an annoying bitch!

ImperialBlether Mon 22-Jul-13 12:15:31

I can't believe people are saying that the OP should change jobs as a result of this incompetent woman.

OP, I think you do need to report every single error. If you do her work for her, then you've no case later as the correct work will be there and she will say she's done it.

Re-training is probably the best suggestion you could make to her boss.

Pubicfoothair Mon 22-Jul-13 12:25:23

I knew this was oil and gas. Is she quite pretty? Office eye candy??

ImperialBlether Mon 22-Jul-13 12:31:25

The OP's said: "Also, its an open plan office and its noisy, and "Miss" is at the forefront of that. She seems awfully popular as a person with the managers and line managers, and people talk about her great personality."

ThreeTroikas Mon 22-Jul-13 12:39:43

That's why I don't get it. No, I wouldn't say she is pretty. Perhaps I'm missing something, as I'm a heterosexual female, but she looks very ordinary to me, perhaps a little plain. She acts quite silly and jokes a lot with the male employees. I was surprised when she got together with her boyfriend long before she joined the company, as his last girlfriend was very stunning and intelligent and nice, but she seems to have the ability to get men to run around after her by acting like a spoilt brat.

I'm battling with myself as to whether I want to work with a company where work like this is valued. But it is kind of par for the course for the industry.

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