Coworker Doesn’t Follow Up, Has Sick Wife

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about a coworker who fails to follow up and leaves work for me to do.

I have been working as a market researcher for a small company for the past six years. The company’s sales had been drastically increasing since I was hired. Three months ago my boss decided to hire a second market researcher to help me with my heavy workload and ever since he was hired, the sales have been declining. I am the only employee that knows my work partner is taking on clients request but not following up to complete the work. He has been expressing his frustration with his job to me because he is constantly thinking of his wife who is ill in the hospital.

Although I would like to retrain him, I am busy with completing his inadequate workload. I believe I need to speak with my boss to get him retrained but I do not want him to get in trouble. My boss is not a sympathetic individual and has a lot of pressure put on him from the head of the company to keep sales up. How should I go about speaking to the boss about the employee without getting him in trouble?

I am looking forward to your response and I am eager to hear about your advice to dealing with this situation.

Signed, Re-searching for Advice

Dear Re-searching for Advice:

I would offer to help my colleague by asking if he wants to sit with me while I do my own work (and correcting his).  I would not use the phrase “re-train” in any instance because that makes it seem like the person did not learn anything from the original training process.

I am very sympathetic to those working very hard and have ill family members.  There are so many companies in the world that treat their employees like family, so the best case scenario would be helping this person grasp his duties.  Maybe I would even spend some time on the weekend writing up some tips/helpful hints to the person in need.  A company is only as strong as its weakest employee.

It may be easier to just tell your boss to let him go; however, it will most likely be more beneficial in the long run to work hard for your coworker and show the supervisors that you can handle anything given to you. Your reward will be great from your superiors, and your colleague will be forever grateful.

I would explain to my boss that I can be a team player and help our new colleague succeed—while being one of the top sales person, if I can make sure a colleague does just as well, then that will be twice the sales income.

Nicholas Grdina, Guest Respondent