Confronted about Not Pulling My Weight

Question to Ask   the Workplace Doctors about doing one’s share.

I have been working at a hospital for about five years, and have just recently been approached by one of our charge people about not pulling my own weight. When I asked what I could do to change, I was just looked at funny. I am unsure whether to ask one of the other charge people the same thing, or to go to our supervisor about it. According to the individual, our supervisor has not had this bought to his attention. Any thoughts?

Signed, Not Pulling

Dear Not Pulling:

I assume by “our charge people” you mean someone who is in charge of certain duties or areas. Have you thought about what you do or don’t do in that individual’s area of responsibility? Might you be unclear about how your job is defined in that area? After you take inventory on that, it would seem wise to arrange a time-out confrontation with the one who brought the matter up; you are entitled to more than a funny look to question you first asked.

You naturally is defensive when criticized. Rather than seeing this as an accusation, might you think of it as frustration for fair distribution of duties? To be sure that comment could have been malicious because some people get an ego boost by putting others down. However, unless that individual has a pattern of put-downs, it is worthy of an honest conversation about your working relationship with her/him. There are few areas within any workplace that can benefit from such a coming together to see how two or more coworkers might not make each others work easier and more effective. I don’t think you immediately should go above with this criticism.

Your question indirectly implies that your work group rarely has skull sessions to consider assignments and distribution of load. And also that you do not function as does a sports team, that practices with the guidance of a coach and after a game reviews what went well and what might be done better in the next game. I train work groups to establish do and don’t communications rules that cover what and how assignments are made, criticisms given, gossip, and frequency of meeting on special matters, etc. Such a collaborative spelling out of how a group communicates prevents misunderstandings and makes it ok to talk about talk; so that the quality of performance is foremost.Medical institutions are known for tough standards and evaluation. The positive side of that is exemplified in a concerted effort that is labeled “lean management”.

In industry that is a six sigma effort to measure productivity and to find ways of improving on it in small and innovative ways. I know hospitals are now engaging in such efforts. With that lean management mindset, even a minor incident such as being told you are not pulling your own weight, should be seen from more than a personal attack. Possibly there is a structural arrangement of your work that provoked such a criticism, or at least there might be ways that you and that one in charge could find ways to make the work go more smoothly for you both. If these thoughts make sense, you will be on the path to a more friendly and productive working relationship. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS is my way of saying this unhappy incident is a way for you two to find the benefits of feeling good and possibly the genuine satisfaction of your choice of work in a caring profession.

William Gorden