Part Time Coworker Does Much Less Than Me

Question:

I wrote you a month or so ago about a boss who wanted me to delegate work to my coworker. You gave excellent advice which I have followed, and I am very grateful for your input. However, a new issue has surface so I’m turning to you once more. I am full time and my coworker is part time. Since her hours were cut, my workload has increased significantly. I don’t mind this because I prefer having too much to do over having nothing to do (and staring at the clock out of boredom!)

Here is my issue: The coworker has stopped working. After a day of work she will have maybe one letter completed. I mean it’s ridiculous. I think she’s doing it because she’s angry at our boss for cutting her hours, or maybe she feels rejected and it’s affecting her workload. But I am starting to become irritated by this behavior.

I find myself thinking things like, “Maybe I should come into work and only get one thing done for the day, since it seems to be ok for her to do”. But it’s not ok for me – my boss expects me to get everything done in a short time, and will get irritated if I take too long.

She gets paid fairly well and it’s quite annoying knowing that she’s not doing work and she’s getting paid for being in the office, especially when I know that money is tight for our boss (that’s the reason this coworker’s hours were cut from 30 hours a week to 10 hours a week to begin with). She knows if she doesn’t get it done then I will have to do it.

I said something about it to my boss today, and he acted like it doesn’t bother him. He told me that he’s counting on me to get the work done. I work hard, am efficient, and enjoy working for him, but I don’t understand how he isn’t bothered by her lack of work.

He is a very intelligent man, and I know he sees that she’s not getting things done (for instance there are 2 files on her desk that have been there for 3 weeks – the work in these files can be done in 2 hours or less).

I am partly angered as I feel it’s preferential treatment to expect so much from me but not from her. Honestly I think that if I’m going to do all of the work, then what’s the point of her even coming to work? I almost feel like maybe he’s trying to get me to quit. It’s unfair treatment and I think a lot of people would be bothered by this. Any advice?

Signed,

Starting To Get Angry


Answer:

Dear Starting To Get Angry:

I don’t blame you for being frustrated and angry about this. I do not think your boss is being very effective as a manager, let alone a leader, to allow this to happen–especially on top of the situation before. Perhaps there is more to it than I am understanding, but it certainly does not seem right.

I don’t know your relationship with the boss, but if you know him well enough to talk to him, why don’t you propose just what you mentioned: That he keep you and let you do the work of both the part timer and you, since she is not doing much anyway.

Or, get him at a time when you can talk seriously and ask, “Are you hoping that I will quit? I would like you to be honest, because if you do, I need to know that. If you don’t, I need to let you know that I feel bad about the way things are going.”

Maybe that sincere effort to talk about it, will let him know how seriously you feel.

You mentioned in your former message that the coworker had become rude and twitty acting, so I expect you are right about why she is not doing much work. What about this as manipulative, but perhaps eye opening experiment: If she has work you have the time to do, do it and leave her with nothing to do. See how she reacts to that. Does she seek out work or sit and twiddle her thumbs? Perhaps then your boss will realize what a waste of money she is.

Or, consider this: Ask your boss to delegate to her some of your work, so the work is distributed more fairly. But, ask him to put a timeline on it, since you know it is important work that must be done. You may find you will have to give him the ideas!

Sadly, the bottom line is that you do not have control over the situation, your boss does. You do, however, have control over what you do. If things get much worse you may need to threaten to leave unless the work situation changes…then be prepared to back it up. That isn’t optimal, but this is going nowhere, you must admit! Best wishes with this. Let us know how it works out.

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.