Dear Honestly M,
I have an issue with a co-worker. I have been at my job for four years. We have a pretty tight group, and we all get along pretty well. A new girl started working there about three months ago. She seemed nice enough at first, but now there are major issues. She is so hard to work with, and it is making my work environment impossible. She is rude, holds work from the rest of us, acts like she knows more than anyone else and ignores many of us when we try to talk to her. Several of us have gone to upper management to talk to them about her attitude and the reasoning for why some of our work is late. When she refuses to pass the work onto us after her part is done, it puts us all behind and makes us look bad. Upper management does not seem to want to handle the situation and continuously tells us to “try and get along with each other.” Do you have any suggestions on what I or my fellow co-workers can do to make this situation better?
Frustrated at Work
Dear Frustrated at Work,
In every work situation, there can be difficulties with co-workers. My greatest concern with your particular conundrum is that work is falling behind because of the purposeful withholding from your teammate. Notice I said teammate? Anytime co-workers are reliant upon one another to finish a project, you are more than individuals working under the same roof. You are indeed a team. A team, as you know, is only as good as its weakest member. I am thrown off by the lack of concern that upper management has shown. The entire point of having a business of any sort and employees to help run that business is to be a success. How much success can there be if the business is not functioning properly?
My first sliver of advice would be to compose a well thought out letter that focuses on the points of the issues. This letter should be from all of the employees that are facing difficulty as a result of the co-worker’s behavior. Be sure to keep emotions out of it and stick to the facts. Address the letter to upper management and give them adequate time to respond. If that does not work, try taking your co-worker for dinner or maybe a cup of coffee. Meet outside the walls of work. Perhaps there is a deeper reasoning as to why this person is causing so much friction. We never truly know what someone is going through or what struggles they might be facing. Try to get to know her on a personal level. You never know what you may uncover.
I would say, if all else fails, you may be stuck in a situation to where you have little choice but to “grin and bare it” until the powers that be take notice of the lag in work achievements. Take a deep breath, remind yourself that this situation is indeed temporary, and leave it at the door on your way out of work. All things come to an end at some point, and one way or another, this will too.
Hang in there and I hope things get better for you and your teammates very soon. Remember, duct taping co-workers to their chairs is highly frowned upon in most work environments.