Can’t Meet Deadlines Because Of Co-worker!

Question:

For the past several years a coworker has not been doing her job and it has started to affect my job. I have gotten in trouble for not meeting deadlines, but it is due to the coworker not completing her part. I am not authorized to do her job, so I must wait for her to complete the work.

I have talked with her, my boss, her boss, and the bosses’ boss. For some reason they refuse to deal with her. I make sure that I information all parties when my job will be delayed because of her not completing her part. I hate having to tell customers that I am behind and will complete the work as soon as possible. Others have complained and still nothing is done. I work for a very large company and upper management levels are located in other states, but I have submitted paperwork to them advising status and still nothing has changed. This problem has gone on for years and yet nothing has changed and has even gotten worse. It has gotten so bad, that my own health has suffered. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Signed,

What’s A Guy To Do?


Answer:

Dear What’s A Guy To Do?:

I can imagine that you feel very frustrated over the situation. I will suggest some potential actions, with the thought that you know your situation best and will know how to adapt them.

1. What is the essential problem? The problem is that a work product that is expected by customers or clients is not getting done on time. This causes customer complaints and dissatisfaction. Try focusing your supervisor’s attention on the delays, not on what you think is the cause of it.

As you have likely found, when one employee complains about another employee repeatedly, but supervisors and managers do not agree, more complaints do not change their minds. They only view that the complaining employee must have an ulterior motive.

Perhaps your best solution would be go to your supervisor and ask if he would meet with you and the other employee and find a way to get the work out on time, every time. Suggest that every step of the process be analyzed to determine what is causing the current delays. Do this with an attitude that you are not trying to put the blame on anyone, but rather that you are trying to reduce the delays.

You might want to say something to clearly indicate your desire to focus on the delays instead of individuals. I would suggest you put it in writing, through an email, so you will have documentation of your sincere efforts. You could say, “My main concern is that we aren’t getting work done on time. We all look bad when that happens. I’ve had my thoughts about the cause of the delays and I’ve expressed them in the past. But now I’ve decided the best approach is for you and us to try to find out what IS the cause and do something about it once and for all. My only goal is to get the work done on time. Would you please help me with that?”

Then, if you do meet, work as hard as you can to see the full picture of the process. Be open to correcting or changing your own work as well as pointing out your view of where you think the delays start. Also be willing to look at causes other than with the two of you. *Is there some part of the process that could be changed or improved? *Could the time-line be increased so customers do not expect the product as quickly? My experience is that I would rather be told it will take three weeks to get something, than to be told it will take two weeks but repeatedly find I can’t get it in that time. *Could someone else be added to the process, to help with some phase of it? *Is there a better method being done somewhere else? If you are a large company is there some other location that does your same work? Are they delayed all the time? *When you see an item is not getting to you and the deadline date is approaching, could you go to your supervisor then, and express your concerns? Or, when you get an item and realize it will be late getting to the customer, could you go to your supervisor and tell him you are concerned and ask for help to figure out how to get the work done on time?

Ask the supervisor or manager for help with this rather than only complaining about the other employee’s lack of work. “What do you think I can do?” goes over better than, “Look what she’s done.”

2. If a customer complains about a delay in the work, your best approach will be to get a phone number or contact information and tell them your supervisor will talk to them about it. Then, forward the information. You should not tell them you were delayed because of another employee, even if you believe that is true. That doesn’t make them feel any better and puts you in a bad light. Besides, their complaints should be handled by a supervisor not by you. I realize you are the one to whom they complain, but you should only apologize for the delay and tell them you will have a supervisor talk to them if they would like. Then, whether or not they want to make a complaint, forward the information to your supervisor.

3. Do you have an HR section or other unit that deals with conflict and other employee related issues? Perhaps they could help you work to resolve this. If you think your performance evaluation is going to suffer because of the actions of someone else, perhaps you can use that as a way to express your concerns. If you believe the stress of the situation is causing your health to suffer, perhaps that is another issue they would want to know about.

4. Has anyone, at any of the levels of the hierarchy, agreed with you about the cause of this issue? If they have, contact them again and ask for their help. If they have not, I would say that indicates there is another view you are not seeing and you may have to find a way to either see that view or work around what you consider to be a problem.

You say you have gotten in trouble over the delays. If you receive a disciplinary action or your evaluation is lowered because of this you could certainly complain, but that might not have any more weight than former complaints.

All of that may seem discouraging, but I think it is important for you to look at where you stand with this, so you do not create a problem for yourself. Sometimes it is necessary to simply accept that you have an insight others don’t have and apparently they never will see things your way. Then, find another way to deal with the issue, learn to tolerate the negative aspects of it for the sake of the positive aspects of the job, or find another job. That latter is not usually a great option, but may be necessary for your health, if you cannot find a solution where you are.

5. I would imagine the other employee is not a friend of yours and that this has created an uncomfortable situation all the way around. She knows how you feel, and she does not agree. She knows you have complained about her. She may even purposely delay her work a trifle to upset you. Or, she may genuinely feel hurt that you think she is doing poor work and she may go home and say her health is suffering because of your wrongful accusations.

If the two of you can establish the common goal of getting work out in a particular time-line, and both of you put your efforts into your own part of the process, maybe you can create a truce that will be helpful. But, I still think your supervisor needs to be involved in every aspect of this.

Since this has been happening for several years and there appears to be disagreement about the cause, I don’t know there is anything that will change the situation quickly. But since what you have been attempting thus far has not worked, it would indicate a new approach is needed.

I hope you will be able to work through this and take some of the pressure off yourself mentally and physically. Best wishes. If you have the time and wish to do so, let us know how this difficult situation works out.

Focus on quality of service without delay is WEGO attentiveness.

Tina Lewis Rowe