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to not feel much sympathy for 'stressed' work colleague

(29 Posts)
BloodshotEyeballs Tue 20-Oct-09 12:26:22

Briefly I line manage someone who mans a booking line. The line is open between 9 and 4 with an hour at the end of the day free for associated admin and she works 2.5 days per week. She has just been signed off for a month, following being signed off for two weeks. This is due to stress at work.

Don't get me wrong. It can be hard. When it's busy people on the phone get very pissed off and tend to rant a bit. But it's not a massively busy period now. And that job is the only thing she has to do, no other responsbilities at all, not even a tea kitty. I have left the office in tears many a time, I was in tears last week because I just couldn't keep up with the work.

The jobs are such that I now have to cover her job as well as doing my own (and I'm snowed under) as well as picking up the slack from my job share who is hardly ever here (I work three days). I have had to come in for the last two Saturdays to try to catch up and I will probably be in this Saturday as well. I am due to take 2 weeks leave from next week which now looks under threat.

So I can't summon up much sympathy. I feel bad that I should be a better, more concerned manager but really I#m actually quite pissed off. I know I'm probably BU but I need to rant angry

So tell me what a bad person I am, please.

BloodshotEyeballs Tue 20-Oct-09 12:27:40

That should say that I've left the office in tears when I've had to cover her job but because of my own work piling up rather than that job IYSWIM.

MaggieBehaveOutGuising Tue 20-Oct-09 12:33:57

You don't have to be friends. Just arrange your face into a possibly sympathetic expression but don't encourage it.

LowLevelWhingeing Tue 20-Oct-09 12:34:17

Who are you to say who's allowed to be ill? You have absolutely no idea what is going on in her life.

It's unfortunate that you now have more work to do but that is a management of resouces issue. It sounds like you're pissed off at people for being more part time than you!

thelunar66 Tue 20-Oct-09 12:34:18

it sounds as though you are not being unreasonable at all. Can you ask your job share to share more equally?

kidcreoleandthecoconuts Tue 20-Oct-09 12:34:50

YABU. Stress affects people in different ways. Some people thrive on a little work related gives them focus and motivates them. Other people get to the point of not being able to cope. It may not just be work that she is stressed about. it probably a variety of things that have built up over a period of time and come to a head now.
I've suffered from stress and it's horrible. i wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. Luckily my bosses were really understanding and I was able to return to work on medication.
I'm glad you're not my boss.

skihorse Tue 20-Oct-09 12:38:17

IMO, if the job really is so "easy" - I doubt the root cause is work - there's probably something deeply troubling going on at home.

MorrisZapp Tue 20-Oct-09 12:41:30

Difficult one. Some people have very genuine reasons to be signed off work but we all know people who take the piss and it is annoying and unfair.

Things like stress, back pain etc are all pretty much 'unprovable' so we have to accept that there will always be some mickey takers.

I have had a sick line once in my life and it was unbelievably easy to get. I had a throat infection. The doctor said, how long shall I put, three weeks to begin with? I was like eh? No way, I'll be off a few days at most! Just shows easy it is to get time off.

In the long term, if you have a job you can't cope with then you should maybe look at getting a different job that you can cope with, instead of taking full pay for a job you aren't doing and your colleagues are.

madamearcati Tue 20-Oct-09 12:43:02

Stress at work doesn't have to be from overwork.A bad atmosphere in the office can be stressful too.

pointyhat Tue 20-Oct-09 12:44:32

Your workplace sounds chaotic and poorly managed. Management should sort it out.

OrmIrian Tue 20-Oct-09 12:49:27

I have sympathy for you both.

Anxiety can be totally awful - been there a few times but never signed off work, just carried on regardless (and did a less than adequate job and drove myself into the welcoming arms of anti-Ds eventually hmm).

However it isn't on that your job is going to be made even worse. BTW "I have left the office in tears many a time, I was in tears last week because I just couldn't keep up with the work" is not OK. It isn't normal and that should not be happening. You'll end up where she is sooner or later!

AuntieMaggie Tue 20-Oct-09 12:49:46

Agree with kidcreoleandthecocon, pointy hat and madamearcati.

Taking calls all day from people can be hard especially when they're not very nice to you and blame you for everything and there isn't much you can do about that. Stress at work can be caused by a whole range of things and I would be more interested in finding out what it is that's causing it than being annoyed with her.

JazzieJeff Tue 20-Oct-09 12:50:14

Can you speak to your boss? Because if this other woman is ill, surely its not your job to pick up the slack if that's not in your job description. If she's off for a while could they not get a temp?

mazzystartled Tue 20-Oct-09 12:51:38

It's not her fault your workplace is poorly managed, or that you have to cover her workload, or that your jobshare partner is not pulling their weight, or that the expectations on you seem to be unreasonable.

OrmIrian Tue 20-Oct-09 12:53:09

And I think it's a poor show on the part of some of the customers that they can reduce staff on the other end to tears, and cause so much stress. It isn't right to be so fucking bolshy to people trying to do their job angry

WurzelBoot Tue 20-Oct-09 12:55:08

I agree with pointyhat.

How big is the organisation? A lot of stress at work comes from feeling that if you need to take time off the workload which is 'yours' will build up and things will grind to a halt.

For example; you're in tears because you needed to man the booking line so your work didn't get done, so ultimately you're in the same boat and this is stressful for you too. Is there really no contingency for you being away from your desk for a time? How would you arrange a holiday, or what if you were in hospital or convalescing for a month or two? Is there no-one who can stand it to take the priority jobs from you or to help with the booking line for a while? Is there no contingency fund that will cover a temp to take some of the pressure off.

It is mismanagement (sorry), either from you or someone else further up the ladder. It's your team - you need to structure it so that if there is a hole in the team for whatever reason, the rest of the team can work together to plug the hole. That way everyone is less stressed knowing that if something did happen, they would be given the time that they need without feeling guilty or panicking that work is going down the pan.

BloodshotEyeballs Tue 20-Oct-09 12:57:24

I'm absolutely not bothered about her having half a day more a week off than me. Don't know where you got that from hmm.

The reason she has given is stress at work. Not stress at home or any other type of stress, therefore surely I'm allowed to comment on the cause of her stress. We had a meeting with her when she returned last week and she said the stress is caused by the fact that she's too busy and that other people in the office should help her out more. But everyone else is snowed under as well and she's the least busy person in the office.

Management are fab and very underatanding. I love my boss to bits but there is no more money or staff to help out otherwise they would be here in a shot.

I'm already back on my anti D's when I worked hard to get off them so I know how stress feels. Soory, am trying not to do this by stealth!

BloodshotEyeballs Tue 20-Oct-09 13:02:26

God my typing is shite blush

bigchris Tue 20-Oct-09 13:04:23

being off with stress is rarely to do with work ime
usually stuff going on at home and work just excaberates the situation
for all you know she may have suffered a muscarriage, be going through ivf, an ill parent etc etc

pointyhat Tue 20-Oct-09 13:05:31

SHe might be someone who just can't handle much stress at all, which is unfortunate for the rest of you (and annoying). If that's the case, it would help everyone all round if she resigned and found a job she was more suited to. Although that doesn't tend to happen very often.

bigchris Tue 20-Oct-09 13:05:42

oops crossed posts!

BloodshotEyeballs Tue 20-Oct-09 13:17:52

I think that's what really concerns me, is that the job is extremely unlikely to change. There is nothing we can do about it as, like I said, severely short on money and resources for new people or systems. So, this will be an ongoing problem.

She tells me chapter and verse about her life so am pretty sure there are no issues with parents etc and no 'other' problems as she's well into her fifties. If I thought there was anything going on at home of course I would be more sympathetic. Unless she's not telling all or spinning me a yarn of course.

DuelingFANGo Tue 20-Oct-09 13:18:59


stickylittlefingers Tue 20-Oct-09 13:25:58

I do feel sorry for you, but I think focussing on her and making it "her fault" isn't going to sort it out for you. You seem to have a good relationship with your boss - tell them how it's affecting you! And you can't know how she feels or decide how she "should" cope - your team mates are your team mates for good or ill. That's the thing about being in a team.

But I do sympathise that you're having a crappy time of it. I hope you aren't brought to tears again - it all sounds like things are getting a bit much.

Ivykaty44 Tue 20-Oct-09 13:27:14

It is really short sighted though to have to few staff and make thoses staff ill and then pile the work onthe remainaing staff who will either get ill, pissed off or leave and create more problems.

having people off sick with stress through work is not cheap - you still have to pay them... and by the sounds of it you are all in agreement there is too much work for everyone as they are all snowed under.

I feel sorry for both of you cos work are taking the piss - but your health is important you need to rasie this as a problem to all of you doing that job.

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