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Stressful work situation; lazy colleague, unsupportive manager!(8 Posts)
Long time lurker, first time poster.
I work in a small team within a large company on a fixed term contract with the possibility for a permanent position.
Since the beginning, one of my immediate colleagues hasn't been pulling her weight. The work she doesn't do falls onto me constantly.
Our manager recognises this to me, but so far nothing has been done.
He is aware that the situation is taking a toll on me personally, and my own mental health and yet nothing is done, and I continue picking up the work my colleague doesn't bother to do.
I'm at my wits end, and I feel stressed out of my mind just thinking about going to work.
I feel that my manager thinks I'm being petty when I raise concerns, and has barely spoken to me since I last did.
What can I do? I want to stay in the role if possible but the impact this is having on my own MH is beginning to mount up.
Sorry to hear about this. The only thing worse than having to performance manage a lazy/incompetent team member is having to be their colleague, pick up the slack/cover their arse and having no power to do anything about it... you are never thanked for it either!
Can I check, when you talk about the extra work having an impact on your mental health, is this because you are having to work extra hours to complete the work, or because you are having to work harder/faster to get more done to account for the extra workload? Or are you coming in for flak from customers/colleagues because of work not done? You don't have to explain the exact nature of your work but what would happen if you simply didn't pick up your colleagues work at all, or did less of your own work because you are doing hers?
I'm not suggesting you simply down tools but in the context that it seems your manager is unlikely to solve the problem anytime soon (it may be by the way that there are things going on behind the scenes with your colleague that your manager can't talk about with you due to confidentiality reasons but it probably won't resolve itself that quickly if so), can you start to protect yourself a bit and think of some ways in which you can manage your complete workload including this colleague's stuff in a way that doesn't mean you simply working harder/longer? I'm thinking of things like negotiating deadlines, stopping or de-prioritising less important tasks, delegating some work to other colleagues, completing some work quickly but to a less high standard? I get that it is VERY frustrating to have to compromise your own standards to account for deficiencies in the team but unless we are talking life and death here your health is more important in the grand scheme of things.
I would ask for a meeting with your manager, present them calmly in an objective manner with some evidence on the volume of your workload accounting for your colleagues work too and explain your suggested plan for resolving it. IE something along the lines of: my workload consists of roughly tasks XYZ. I propose that task X is my priority, task y will now take 4 weeks to complete instead of 2 and I will do task Z as and when I have time but can make no guarantees about when I complete it, is that OK with you boss?"
If your manager is as passive and useless as you say then I doubt he will care much about the quality/speed of your work, sorry to say. People like him just want the problem to go away with the minimum personal effort really and to not get it in the neck from customers/senior managers as a result (been there got the T-shirt!) so if you can present him with a way this can happen/solutions rather than just explaining the problem then that tends to get the best results.
And ultimately he doesn't sound like the best person to work for so although you like the role I would also be planning my exit route in the medium term too!
To protect yourself, and ensure blame culture doesn't muddy the waters, I would create a list of activities that you're having to pick up that aren't on your Objectives, including the dates and details of what you achieved, above and beyond, to ensure your customers and colleagues weren't impacted.
You may as well get formal recognition for what you did, and the best way to do that is to include it in your Objectives, articulated as "Stretch Targets", to show what extra you personally did.
@maxelly That's a super useful response, thank you!
We both work in an area of the business that means a lot of contact with the clients (think hundreds of them). If lazy colleague ignores phone calls and emails, then I have to pick them up on top of my own work. She seems to see general admin as beneath her, so a lot of that is picked up my me as well.
This means I work longer and have to do much more during core working hours. Often, I need to finish up later than the rest of the office so I can get things done that I'm not able to do while it's busy during the core hours. Lazy colleague does not do this.
There's absolutely no way I can avoid picking up her work either - if I did, then clients would be very unhappy, and potentially disadvantaged in various ways.
I get no acknowledgement of the amount of work that I'm doing and feel utterly exhausted, frustrated and tearful by the end of everyday.
We have a huge HR department so I imagine something must be happening because her piss poor performance must be being dealt with somehow, but it's the lack of support from my manager and the effect this is having from me that is driving me crazy. I'm genuinely considering leaving the organisation because whilst I love my job, I cannot cope with the situation much longer.
@daisychain01 That's actually a really smart idea I hadn't thought of.
I'm starting to think I just need to be blunt and document what I'm doing, how much, and the positive impact for clients.
I always feel like I'm blowing my own trumpet too much when I think about this though, so I guess I need to just move past those thoughts and start documenting the facts!
Is the lazy worker a permanent employee? You're on a fixed term contract?
If so, you're possibly better looking for a way out.
They always prioritise the perms over the fixed regardless of who is the better worker. It's harder and costlier to loose a perm worker. It's not fair.
*... I would create a list of activities that you're having to pick up that aren't on your Objectives, including the dates and details of what you achieved, above and beyond, ...
You may as well get formal recognition for what you did, and the best way to do that is to include it in your Objectives, articulated as "Stretch Targets", to show what extra you personally did.*
Hmmm. I've been covering some tasks for another team (Team A) for a year, due to absences on their team. I also covered some tasks for colleague B (in a different team, but it was a one-off no-miss activity which everyone else ducked.). I spelled all of this out in my annual review, and my manager acknowledged it. None of Team A completed their reviews this year (due to absences, yada yada). Annual review content is taken into account in the annual bonus round.
Team A, colleague B and I all report to the same manager.
What happened next was that the whole of Team A got a bonus - for exceptional performance covering for each other during a period of high absences! I got nothing.
OP - find another job.
What you describe is shocking. However it shouldn't automatically be generalised to the OPs situation.
Leaving is always an option, but not before the OP has at least tried to gain credit and recognition for their hard work, through the formal annual performance appraisal process.
What's the point of flouncing, before stating one's case ? Then the lazy colleague really will have won.