Coworker Does Less But I Have to Do More

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about allocation of work load:

I work in a part time permanent position as an educator & thoroughly enjoy the role except for a major problem. A coworker is employed more days than I chose to work yet he has a considerably less workload. This person dramatizes their personal life, exaggerates the work they perform and uses endearing terms (love /gorgeous) instead of rightful names. He describes himself as bold and states he has stood up to people throughout his working life and that he doesn’t like to be told what to do. He sure presents as very confident and over powering. He spends a considerable time making personal calls; arrives late to work most days and leaves early and the manager has handed over both a considerable number of his teaching days and marking duties to other teachers explaining he is behind due to not coping for personal reasons. The manager told me this is an ongoing problem and seems impatient with him but she appears unable to correct the behavior. This week I was asked to fill in for three of this co-worker’s teaching days over three weeks but refused, explaining that would give me double the teaching hours despite being employed less days- not to mention the marking I have piling up from more teaching days over the last weeks. Despite the cost cutting measures of this workplace, a casual staff has been employed to fill in the days.

I recently made a direct, yet polite comment to this other teacher by referring to the short day he was working and wondering why I am putting in so many hours(he had come in late and was telling me the time he’d be finishing) and he became quite angry which was unnerving. Sure, there is the possibility that he is working from home like others do, however the fact he has been relieved of so many teaching days and his marking has been shared amongst others, considerably lessens this potential. I would hate to leave my work as students provide positive feedback but this inequitable workload is intolerable. A few others are affected by this inequity also but seem to be uncomplaining (though they are also relatively new staff as the employee retention rate at this workplace seems fairly high). The extra hours worked are not remunerated; however working less than employed is not penalized.

Signed, Frustrated and Ready to Quit

Dear Frustrated and Ready to Quit:

The place is to start is with your manager. It’s her responsibility to provide the equitable workplace you want, as well as to ensure that everyone is working to the level for which they were hired. Talking to a coworker almost never does any good, because he may feel that if the manager approves the working hours and conditions for all of you, you have no right to even politely question it. So,the manager should be your focus. Consider a serious and specific discussion about your concerns. Tell your manager about the recent conversation in which your coworker says he is taking work home. The manager would know if work is being turned in from there or if the employee is behind on work. The manager might not admit it to you, but it would be good for the manager to know if the coworker is lying to you about the reasons for leaving early. If you’ve been a reliable, effective employee, let the manager know that you’re feeling frustrated and pressured and are wondering if you are less effective than you think you are, given the situation. You can say something like, “If you think I’m not doing a good job, I need to know that. If you DO think I’m doing a good job, I’d like to know why I feel as though I’m expected to make Bill’s work life easier for him. It’s gotten to the point where it seems the circumstances under which I was hired don’t apply anymore. I don’t think you would like it if you were in my situation. I love to work here and I like working with you, but fairness matters at work and the way things are going isn’t fair.” Give the manager a chance to tell you that she doesn’t want to see you leave or that something will change. You can do that without threatening anything. You’re just asking for feedback, based on how unprofessional and inconsistent the work situation has become. The biggest challenge for you will be to say it and be up front about it, rather than tolerating it, but being angry inside. Or, complaining in subtle ways without ever making a strong statement. The bottom line is that I doubt anything will change unless something pushes it to change. The coworker has no reason to improve, the manager just hopes things can lumber along and the other employees probably feel as you do but hope someone else will say something. It could also be that others HAVE said something, so your voice would add to that. Best wishes to you as you tackle this in an honest and assertive manner. If you have the time and wish to do so, let us know what happens.

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.