What Should I Do About A Lazy Executive?

Question:

A few months ago, a male co-worker with the same educational level, same length of time at the company (more than 15 years), and far fewer accomplishments was promoted to a position above mine after complaining to the boss that it “wasn’t right” that we should be at the same level.

At that time, we worked in separate buildings. Now, I work in an adjoining office and have a first-hand view of what he does–which isn’t much. While I work 50-plus hours per week, this guy is working 30-35, despite his new executive status and inflated paycheck. The boss works in a different town and is clueless about my co-worker’s lack of productivity. I’m burning about this, even though his behavior doesn’t directly affect my job and he doesn’t supervise me or tell me what to do. Do I tell the boss “what’s up” or just grit my teeth and bear it?

Signed,

Seething


Answer:

Dear Seething:

This is undoubtedly a frustrating experience, but really, your complaint isn’t with the executive, it’s with your manager, if the situation is as you describe it. Or, it could be that nothing is amiss but you need to talk to your manager about the totality of the work situation.

Working 30-35 hours a week may seem problematic to someone who is working 50+ hours a week, but it isn’t terrible sounding otherwise (especially in some workplaces.) So, the issue is that you should probably not be working so many hours a week–or you should be well compensated for it if you are. You’d feel better about work and would also not feel that work time was so inequitable.

The other thing that seems to be a problem is that your boss promoted someone just because the person said he should be promoted. You say the coworker made the comment that it wasn’t fair that he was at the same level as you. I don’t know if you are a female, but if you are, that would certainly have been something to complain about.

On the other hand, if you didn’t ask to be promoted, you weren’t being deprived of something you wanted in the first place.

If your boss told you the employee said that (and I can’t imagine the employee did!)he was wrong to say it and was also wrong to make the promotion based solely on that.

The final way in which your boss is in error is if he allows distance to completely prevent him from being aware of work levels.

Having said that, consider also that it could be your manager simply didn’t want to say that he was promoting the other person because he felt the other person was the best choice but knew it would upset you. He may feel fine about the work productivity of the other employee. He may also not value the 50+ hours you’re putting in, since he may feel that he hasn’t demanded that and it isn’t required of you.

I think you need to discuss the work situation, with the purpose of finding out exactly how your manager sees your work and your role. Ask for an informal evaluation so you’ll know how you are doing. Ask him to let you know what he’d like to see you keep doing, what he’d like you to do more of, what he’d like you to do less of and if he could change anything about your work results, what it would be.

Come right out and ask if he is aware of the number of hours you put in and ask how that can be reduced in time or compensated better in money.

If you feel comfortable with him, you might want to use that time to say, “Hal, I want to tell you something that’s bothering me a lot.” Then, you can talk about the frustration you feel over the promotion. You can even say that you are especially frustrated that you are the only one you know who puts in so many hours and is so committed to the job, but others are rewarded with promotions.

That way you are not asking that the other employee be sanctioned, merely that you want similar rewards.

Whether or not any of that is successful in making a change, at least you will have expressed your concerns and your manager will know you haven’t just accepted the unfair situation as you see it.

You also may find that your manager has some things he wants to say to you and this will give that chance.

Best wishes as you deal with this. 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.