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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.

whois Tue 23-Jul-13 20:36:05

Oh, try and have all your meetings with her attended by someone else and minuted.

whois Tue 23-Jul-13 20:35:28

Paper trail paper trail paper trail. Be polite and professional. Don't say "I can't find document x" say "document x doesn't seem to be in file y".

sudointellectual Tue 23-Jul-13 19:04:29

You must get a paper trail, and get email evidence of her stupidity - something easy to follow and clear to people not immersed in the minutiae of your role.

This happened to me with a junior coder. I had to rewrite everything they did - everything! - and I (naively) thought this would be evidenced in the diffs. But HR managers can't read code/ understand anything technical and so couldn't follow the evidence. I ended up leaving and the junior got promoted (briefly, until it all went to predictable hell as they never wrote a line of functional code grin).

I was okay and actually got a much better job, but on reflection I should never have colluded for a second in their incompetence. HR grasped the problem as soon as I left and they were no longer cushioned from the realities.

quietbatperson Tue 23-Jul-13 18:42:30

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

justmyview Tue 23-Jul-13 15:00:02

The reports - where are they going to? If they're internal memos, then does it really matter if they're littered with mistakes? Of course they look terrible, but if they can still be understood, maybe you need to pick your battles and let it go

If she is preparing documents to go out to clients, or other departments (ie where it does matter if they contain mistakes), whose responsibility is it to check them? Just you, or other people too? Could you engineer to be away at meetings so your line manager has to be the one to check them in your absence and then he can see for himself how bad they are

Unfortunately, many line managers are fairly spineless. Maybe your manager is content to sit back and do nothing, because he knows he can rely on you to sort out the problem on a day-to-day basis & the work still gets done

cumfy Tue 23-Jul-13 13:44:56

Don't rewrite her reports!

Copy your colleague and don't let her touch your reports, save them yourself.

Email management weekly indicating the continuing scale and nature of the problem.

Do they really want all these reports going missing/untraceable ??

Seriously it will only take 2-3 people doing this before the penny drops somewhere.

RenterNomad Tue 23-Jul-13 10:45:34

Do you have a relationship with any of the third party clients which would enable you to prompt one of them to complain about receiving an illiterate pile of shit when you are on holiday (i.e. when Madam Incompetent is not proofread)?

Nishky Tue 23-Jul-13 07:41:46

I tried to read the thread but can't get over the use of 'most simplest' when complaining about someone else's grammar in the OP

StealthPolarBear Tue 23-Jul-13 07:37:22

"Part of her job duties is to produce a fortnightly report on a particular matter, and it is always full of spelling mistakes and strange abbreviations, missing full stops and commas and an absence of apostrophes. Its hard to explain just how bad her level of literacy is. Theres a fundamental lack of understanding of the basics there."

Well who does that go to? Is it your responsibility? If yes, then you have a responsibility to manage her poor performance, whether you're her line manager or not. If no, let it go where it's going without you correcting it.

KnittedC Tue 23-Jul-13 05:50:04

How is it that you're so senior as for her to be jealous of it, and have the same line manager as her? Have I missed something?

ZenGardener Tue 23-Jul-13 04:38:43

I disagree with Phat. I think you have to disengage from trying to mentor her as that obviously isn't working. If you can't find a file send her a quick, friendly email along the lines of:


I was looking for the x file but couldn't find it. Would you be able to pull it for me? Thanks a lot, I appreciate it.

Cc to your Line Manager every time. He will know that you are not being a bitch.

If a document doesn't directly affect you just leave it. See if you can ask your Line Manager to proof read things for her.

If you proof read something for her email her back the original and corrected version. Again don't make a big deal out of it but keep cc-ing the Line Manager. If it is paper documents, photocopy and leave a copy for the Line Manager.

Don't say anything just keep directing everything his way. He will have to deal with it eventually.

IncrediblePhatTheInnkeepersCat Mon 22-Jul-13 18:07:29

I agree that a paper trail is needed. I would also CC the line manager in.

Every time you can't find a file, email her and ask where it is, saying something like "I can't find X''s file. It should be in Y folder with Z file name, like I've shown you. Please ensure it is there by xxxx time. If you need me to go over correct procedure again, please let me know."

Every time she sends you a document with errors, reply and say that there are X number of spelling, punctuation and grammar errors. Please correct by xxxx time.

If you end up redoing it, email saying "I've had to spend 45mins correcting the SPaG in this document. Please make sure you thoroughly proof read these as they go to third party clients."

If you do spend time with her going over things, again email afterwards with "I hope you found it useful tonight when we went over X, Y and Z. Please let me know if you want further clarification in the future."

Good luck! I've suffered colleagues like this. You need to protect yourself too. I've found that when pulled up on their work they try to blame "lack of support". This doesn't stand up when I point out the countless hours I've spent with them, advice given which has been ignored etc., but would have been much harder to prove without a paper trail.

WilsonFrickett Mon 22-Jul-13 17:50:44

Well the report is easy - just let it go, don't amend it. For the other matters, schobe's advice is good.

specialsubject Mon 22-Jul-13 17:40:25

there's always one - usually the one having sex with the boss. (in whatever combination of genders) As she appears not to be, I can only assume that the boss doesn't want to upset the person she does have sex with.

lots of good ideas on here - you need to stop doing her work and drop her right in it by making clear in a paper/email trail what you ARE doing to pick up after her.

with luck something will get done, but don't bank on it given how incompetent most managers are. The best you can realistically hope for is to stop having to do unpaid overtime doing her job.

josephinebruce Mon 22-Jul-13 15:52:24

I think she has a fundamental lack of understanding of what is expected in the workplace - probably due to the fact that this job was arranged for her by friends of her boyfriend. What is she going to do if that relationship fails and they no longer "look after her"?

We have a really annoying administrator who does fuck all but check her FB status and upload photos of herself onto it ALL fucking day....and yet one of our senior managers thinks the sun shines out of her backside and even gave her a promotion because of work she supposedly did on a project. I say supposedly - her entire contribution was to ask me for help - which is why I'm particularly pissed with her (though it's my own fault - I should have told her to bugger off, but didn't know she would get a promotion out of it lol).

And, of course, in the public service we never fire anyone....

ThreeTroikas Mon 22-Jul-13 14:49:17

Searching on keywords isn't an IT solution, unless you write a programme specific to the job for it. Its just another way of searching for something which isn't where it should be. And believe me, searching on keywords is something I have had to do many, many times to find the obscure place she has saved a document. Additionally some of the documents refer to other documents by their saved title, hence they need to be saved in the saved title format for other users and for future reference.

The incompetence goes well beyond not saving documents correctly, and encompasses not filling in information sheets correctly and full of spelling errors and failing to send correct attachments to third party users. I doubt archiving is being done but what concerns me most is that insurance related documentation is not being done correctly.

Part of her job duties is to produce a fortnightly report on a particular matter, and it is always full of spelling mistakes and strange abbreviations, missing full stops and commas and an absence of apostrophes. Its hard to explain just how bad her level of literacy is. Theres a fundamental lack of understanding of the basics there.

LondonMan Mon 22-Jul-13 14:32:47

If these are computerised documents, as opposed to paper or scanned documents, I wonder if there might be an IT solution so the relevant ones can be found quickly by searching on keywords, rather than because they've been filed in the right place.

TheCraicDealer Mon 22-Jul-13 13:56:37

I third schobe. I'd also be tempted to keep a selection of her reports and correspondence on file ready to show him, reminding him that, "this is what our clients see, this is the quality of the work we're charging a fee for".

ImperialBlether Mon 22-Jul-13 13:41:26

Or you could ask your boss and her boss to look up a file which you know was mislabelled, then they can see how frustrating it is.

ImperialBlether Mon 22-Jul-13 13:40:18

Yes, that's a really good idea. She's got to understand the consequences of not doing her job properly.

justmyview Mon 22-Jul-13 13:38:27

I remember an ex of mine went on a brilliant course called "You get the behaviour you reward". I often think about it

If you reward good behaviour, you get more (so far, so obvious)

However, the point of the course was that, in your case if you reward her poor quality work by correcting it for her, then she'll continue, as she has no incentive to improve. Find a way to make her poor work become her problem (eg ask her to find a document she's saved - if it takes all day because she didn't file it properly & this holds her back, then she has an incentive to make more effort to do it properly.) I fear that by correcting her work (which is understandable) you are in fact enabling her poor performance

ImperialBlether Mon 22-Jul-13 13:08:55

Exactly what schobe says.

schobe Mon 22-Jul-13 13:07:06

I would set myself a time, eg 1 month, where I would stay late to check all the documents she had filed/sent off for me. Then on a daily or weekly basis I would send her a complete list of the errors with dates etc.

I would consider copying her line manager into the emails but at first I would perhaps just send them to her.

But then you have a paper trail.

At the end of the month/2 months or whatever, I would ask for a meeting with her and/or her line manager and go through everything giving her targets, e.g. fewer than 50 errors a week or whatever.

If nothing improves over a period of time, eg 3 months or 6 months I would explain formally to her, her LM and your own LM that you are going to do all your file management yourself from now on (point out that your colleague already does this). You have a massive paper trail to say why. It's worth logging the time all the checking up is taking you, literally minute by minute. Then you can point out that you would actually save time doing it yourself.

Then I would (a) note to your superiors that this woman now has no actual work to do and (b) try to negotiate some workload alterations owing to your new increased workload.

The main thing is PAPER TRAIL. Keep everything professional and polite but I would avoid matey behaviour with her. You also have to try and stop letting it get to you (though this is hard, I've been there). The world is sadly full of piss-takers.

limitedperiodonly Mon 22-Jul-13 12:59:19

they used to file everything under "M" for Mr, Mrs, Miss, etc.

I worked with someone who used to file things under T for The.

We had files for The Queen, The Pope etc. Once you knew that you knew where to look hmm

No one was allowed to touch her filing system and she was indulged in her incompetence and shitty attitude to colleagues - that would be the women in the office - too.

Sorry for the diversion OP. I don't have much to add beyond other people's suggestions of reporting every error and the minuted meeting.

You will look like a bitch unfortunately but it's absolutely not your fault.

ImperialBlether Mon 22-Jul-13 12:51:42

Don't talk yourself out of a job! Look at the colleagues you respect; that's why you're there.

It's down to this one guy who interviewed her, isn't it? This is why there's a problem. Does she actually work for the men who run around after her? Are they really redoing all her work?

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