Doing The Work of Someone Else

Question:

I’ve been working at a doctor’s office for a little over a year. I have a co-worker who has about three months less tenure than me. She’s the biggest slacker in the office and it’s causing me to have more work because I’m helping her do her job.

She’s also my manager’s cousin. So yes, I have spoken to the manager and nothing has gotten done. As a matter of fact, it has only gotten worse.

I have also talked to the doctor about her and the doctor feels sorry for her because she thinks she’s too sensitve. She doesn’t want to tell her anything because she says she cries.

The doctor’s husband is basically the one who REALLY runs the office. Should I talk to him about it? I also feel if this continues I need to be getting compensation for all the extra work I’ve taken on. How do I go about this?

Signed,

Frustrated and Overworked


Answer:

Dear Frustrated and Overworked:

Rather than involve someone else–which may end up making you seem more of a pain in the neck than even the crying coworker, consider a couple of other approaches first.

1. Stop doing the work of the slacker. When she needs help ask her to go to the manager and see if she has ideas for how to get the work done, but explain that you are too busy to help. Then, make sure you ARE too busy.

2. When work needs to be done and the coworker won’t go to the manager, go to the manager yourself and explain that you are very busy and can’t do the work of two people. Have a very specific work task in mind, not just general complaining.

You may say that you have done those two things, but do them again. If you think you will be fired if you speak up, that’s different. But, if you think you are a valued employee it would certainly make sense to simply stop doing so much to rescue the coworker.

But, make sure you know you are doing well, are valued and are well thought of by other employees. If not, you will find quickly that even though you are doing a lot of work, they are willing to let you go. That wouldn’t be a good thing!

I think if you were to say you want more compensation for doing extra work, they would tell you one of two things:

*No one requires you to do the extra work, so stop it, because they aren’t going to pay you more.

*Your job involves other tasks as assigned so they aren’t going to pay you more.

I don’t think there is a chance they will increase your salary only because you are helping a coworker. Your solution is to ensure that work is being done equitably.

If you try all of those things—really try them with a good faith effort–and nothing changes, write a letter to the manager, so you have documentation, and clearly spell out what work you have done in the last week or two before the letter, that was actually the responsibility of the other employee. Ask for assistance to allow you to focus on your own work.

If that doesn’t make an appreciable diffence in a week, send the same letter with a cover letter to the doctor.

If those things don’t work, THEN you may want to consider talking to the doctor’s husband, but not until then. And even then, I think there is some risk involved.

Try the problem-solving approach, instead of the complaining approach, and see if that helps. In the meantime, put your focus on your own work and work area to such an extent that you truly don’t have any time available to help someone else, except in an emergency.

At some point you may have to decide whether you want to stay and deal with the issue or leave, even though you like your job. Unless the situation is intolerable, I would imagine you’d rather stay. So, it will be worthwhile to try everything you can to get your manager and others to make things change for the better.

Best wishes. 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.