Bossy Co-worker,Wife of HR Manager

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about bossy,  incompetent coworker :

How to deal with a coworker, the wife of our HR manager? She is bossy, incompetent, unproductive, expects others to do her job and she gets the credit, and she gossips about others. I have complained to our Project Manager. No resolution. I can’t approach HR Manager for obvious reasons.

Signed, Obvious Reasons

Dear Obvious Reasons:

You don’t say, but if you have a Human Resource Manager, I assume your workplace is no mom and pop operation. Nor do you say what is your position or your time with this workplace. You complained about a coworker, whom I’ll call Ms. Jane, but got no results. Why did you complain? Did her work or lack of work or her gossip affect you? Did you document each of these charges? What did you request and expect your Project Manager to do? Are you sure that taking your complaint to HR would not be the place to lodge your complaints? In short, I predict you will continue to be angry and frustrated until and unless you provide real evidence of Ms. Jane’s ineffective behavior. Therefore, rather than allow this to play like a broken record in your head, here are several options to consider:

1. Log incidents when Jane behaves as you describe by date and who was involved. Focus on how her action or lack of it adversely affects your and other work.

2. Confront Ms. Jane about any of her specific actions that detract from your productivity. Firmly tell her that you know approaching her about this matter could provoke her anger; however, say if she doesn’t change her behavior, you will be forced to bring this to her boss and other appropriate persons. I mention going to her before you take this matter above because I expect that you would want a coworker who had complaints about you to come to you first. _ After a list of such misdeeds, take them to your boss. Ask that they be investigated and corrected. Realize that this, too, can lead to conflict with Ms. Jane. Arrange with your boss to check back about this matter within a certain time, such as two weeks. _ Rather than focus on Ms. Jane, propose to your Project Manager that he coach your work group. Suggest that you think that the quality of its operation could be much better and morale higher. Say you think that if he/she had regular skull sessions that you and others would be more efficient and effective. If asked why you are proposing this, you can be more specific about places you see where you might cut wasted supplies, time, energy, and money. Suggest that she/he have your work group collectively review what went well during the week and what needs to be improved.

3. If your Project Manager fails this time, take it up the ladder. Don’t assume that the HR can’t handle this matter. This should be a matter for your boss and/or HR if the issue is serious enough. Check our other Q&As to get additional advice for Ms. Jane kind of questions. Determine not to gossip about Ms. Jane no matter how irritated you are by her. Focus on being a productive and cheerful soul who is there to make others work easier and more productive. Be a problem solver. Don’t just blame. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS is the kind of spirit we each should have if we want good working relationships.

William Gorden