Time to Hit the Road?

Question:

I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place. I love my work! I have good paying job that allows me to spend quality time with my family. Because it is a smaller office, I get to work on a wide variety of projects plus continue my education. However, I have real problem with some workplace dysfunction.

One colleague, Cindy, is particularly troubled. She is bright, charming, college-educated, insightful woman. She’s also the workplace slacker who is routinely two hours late to work each day. She calls in sick on Mondays and Fridays. Cindy disappears during the work day. She makes promises then leaves the work undone. She has months of backlogged work and messes up even the simplest assigned tasks. The self destructive pattern of behavior seems deliberate but somewhat unconscious.

Yet, she always remains on good terms with my boss, our division chief, and the 2 other coworkers. Unfortunately, they tend to coddle her. We’ve lost 3 junior staff members in less than 2 years time because they couldn’t put up with Cindy’s insanity. I don’t find her charming either but I made a secret deal with my boss.

I agreed to stay on board as long as I don’t get stuck cleaning up behind Cindy!

Now, I’m afraid I can’t keep up my end of the bargain. My newest colleagues, Mary, seem to be taking Cindy’s lead! She leaves the office without a word to me. Mary promised to help me while Cindy and our boss are out on vacation next week. Today, I found out Mary requested vacation for those same days. She even joked in an email to me and the division chief that I’d be left alone to hold down the fort!

I’ve about had it! I’m getting ready to go out on a medical leave and seriously considering leaving my perfect job behind. Is it time for me to go?

Signed,

Ready to Leave


Answer:

Dear Ready to Leave:

It would seem a shame to give up a very good job because of a situation such as this. On the other hand, if it is as you say, it’s not such a perfect job at all, and maybe you SHOULD leave it! It hardly sounds like a well-managed or well-supervised workplace. And, if Cindy is insightful and knows what she is doing to others, she must be an uncaring person! So, that likely won’t get better either.

If you are close enough to your supervisor to have made a deal about Cindy, why not use that closeness now to tell your supervisor how you feel? Say that you are on the verge of quitting because of both Cindy and Mary’s behavior. If you have been a valued employee, your boss certainly won’t want to see you go–especially not for those reasons.

This isn’t a matter for you to continue to deal with on your own. I suggest you write to your division chief and say that you need Mary there and ask that she not be allowed to take vacation time. Then, when your supervisor comes back, ask for an interview and express yourself. Or, write it and say you would like to talk about it as well.

State the things that have been bothering you and what you think needs to change for you to feel that work is fair for everyone. You can do that in an appropriate way. It may be that your supervisor has been hoping you or someone would say something to justify more serious action on his or her part.

As for quitting–if you think you would be happier to simply leave the job, then you could do that and I doubt that anyone would blame you. But if you are going to stay, I think you need a permanent solution to what is bothering you. The only person who can provide that is your supervisor or the next level up, and maybe Cindy and Mary, if they would listen to you.

Best wishes as you work to develop a plan of action for this. Good jobs are hard to find. If you can help fix this one you would be doing everyone a favor!

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.