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Lackluster Coworker

By Jim Berlucchi, M.T.S.
My coworker has been diagnosed with a nebulous-sounding ailment that seems to involve her taking a lot of time off and having a lot of extra breaks. I have been picking up a lot of the slack for the work she isn’t performing. How long is it reasonable for me to be doing one-and-a-half jobs for the price of one? Shouldn’t management be replacing her, or getting extra help?

You’ve already answered your own question. You’re unconvinced that her sickness is legit. You’re vexed with her underperformance. You’re tired of picking up the slack. And you’re frustrated with management’s response. Other than that, it sounds like you’re happy as a clam.
How long is it reasonable to do one-and-a-half jobs for the price of one? Apparently as long as you’re agreeable.

If you’re paid on an hourly basis, it’s clearly not reasonable. If you’re a salaried employee, it’s less clear, since hours can fluctuate. Nonetheless you shouldn’t have to do the work that’s assigned to another person unless you’re compensated for it.

It sounds like you want to be a team player but you’re legitimately at the end of your rope. Three steps:
  1. Get clear on what you want. Extra help, or extra pay, or less work, and by when? What are your bottom lines?
  2. Be soberly mindful of your perceived status as an employee. The greater your value, the more your leverage.
  3. Make your case with management with intelligence and tact. You’re a team player. You’ve been patient. You’re requesting resolution. Suggest some possible options (per your desired outcomes in #1).
May your just cause be resolved fairly for the benefit of the common good.
By Jim Berlucchi, M.T.S., Executive Director of the Spitzer Center.
Reprinted with permission of FAITH Catholic Publishing and Communications. Rights reserved.