Co-worker Is Clueless

Question:

I have to work with a co-worker who been on the job since September 2009. We are part of a team of workers, believe it or not, for the Federal government. Since we must work as a team, I’ve tried to explain my job duties to her. I prepare a lot of reports and spreadsheets. I’ve sent her examples with step by step instructions on how to complete the report. She refuses to learn, but always run to our Manager like a big baby when she is confused and doesn’t understand things. I went on a detail and could hardly perform my new job because she and another person kept asking questions and complaining about things they did not understand.

Now since I am back on my job, she and others keep trying to find things wrong with my work and often talk about it behind my back. Should I confront her about this again? She needs to know that we need to sit down and discuss how things should be handled, not her running to others who do not know our work. On more than one occasion, I have heard the Manager tell her she needs to handle her job. She is only 28.

Signed,

Behind My Back


Answer:

Dear Behind My Back:

The word you use to describe your and her job is: “We are part of a team.” Suppose that you both were members of a volleyball team competing in the Olympics. You’d have to know each others’ skills. A coach would spell out the role each of you should play at different positions. And if you failed to play together, he/she would knock some heads together and maybe tell one or the other to shape up or ship out.

If your teammate is truly clueless and she simply can’t do what your projects require, tell her that is your conclusion. Say if she does not request training for herself on specific skills, you will. However, if there is hope the answer is “yes” to your question: Should I confront her about this again? You two need to spell out do and don’t rules about how you are to communicate. Put them in writing and sign off on them, such rules as: · Do explain details of an assignment to each other. · Don’t complain about something to the manager or gossip about the other. First speak to the other about matters of which you don’t approve. · If something is not clear and you can’t agree on it, go together to the manager to get her/his advice. · Put in writing who does what, when, where and how. · Do chart projects indicating each of your roles with intermediate target dates for critical elements completion. Post project time lines. · Confer regularly.

Of course you two will need to make such rules job-specific. If your teammate won’t meet with you and commit herself to hammering out do and don’t rules, request that you two meet with your manager and that the three of you come to a clear understanding of who does what when. Then designate a regular time for a skull session in which you and she openly answer the core questions: How well are we communicating as a team? What went well and deserves applause? What do we need to do to make each other’s job more effective and easier?

You should not be shy about firmly stating that you are displeased to learn that complaints about you have been matters of gossip and taken to your manager without first bringing them to you. Conflict is to be expected and should prompt problem solving. Argument is not bad if it is focused on ways of doing projects more effectively. Teams that win think WEGO; working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS. Your team doesn’t know what it means to cheer each other on. Your team does not celebrate delivering products that delight your internal and external customers. And that is what you both are being paid to do. Right? FOLLOW UP We often get more information from those who send us a question–information that tells the rest of the story, as Paul Harvey used to say. The day after I sent my advice, this paragraph came: Greetings:

Thanks so much for the advice you provided. I did not tell you that I recently received a Promotion, a Cash Award, and a Certificate of Appreciation. I believe this co-worker is quite jealous whenever I or others get praises/accolades and she does not. I guess it is because of her age, 28. She is from a small town and talks and acts very country/ghetto, etc., and lacks needed skills. It will be a long time before she reaches my level of professionalism, skills, savvy, etc. Sometimes she looks drunk/tired when she comes in to work. Sometimes I feel sorry for her because she has gone through a lot with her so-called boyfriend. I am 58 with 31 years of Federal Government. She is 28 with only a couple of years of Federal Service. I’ve come a long way, baby! She has yet to travel the road to success like I have. By no means am I stuck-up or cocky. I have worked very hard at my career and have been truly blessed. Again, I will savor and use your advice…Many thanks and have a great day! REPLY: Thank you for the Rest of Your Story. But it is not finished. Over the next weeks and months, you and your 28 year old coworker and others on your team will be composing the rest of a story–hopefully one in which all of you can know the simple heartfelt joys of what I call WEGO. I expect to hear more from you. Follow-up:

I want to thank all of you for your wonderful and insightful advice. All is much better…the people that have been hating on me were called into the office by upper management. Not only did they get chewed out by my boss but the bosses boss. They were told to either straighten up or ship out!

The haters were all acting very snooty and cocky and now their bubble has burst; they got in trouble while they were doing a presentation…they got busted because they did not have their stuff together as a team and their presentation flopped!

And the big boss told all of us in a staff meeting that all of the gossiping and downgrading of one another will stop and we will start acting like professionals.

Also, the clueless member on my team who was also backstabbing me has in her own way apologized and we are now working as team mates. However, now she is getting her payback for a job related mishap that she is responsible for! I always say..”The big payback is a mother!”

Now, I just give things to God and he shall and will protect me and my family! Again thanks to you guys and all of your help. This is very much appreciated. My blood pressure has been normal now for a while now. Luv you guys!!!

William Gorden