• Mon, May 24 2010

Bitch, Please: When Being The Good Daughter Doesn’t Pay

Do you have issues with your no-longer-best girlfriend? Is your coworker driving you crazy? Megan Carpentier is here to give you the life advice that you don’t want to hear, told in the way you absolutely need to hear it.

I work really hard at my job, but I am starting to feel like it’s all pointless because of one of my coworkers. I come in on time, work like a fiend on my own projects, contribute (where I can) to other people’s projects and generally behave as though what is good for the company is good for me. My coworker “Michael,” on the other hand, sneaks in late — sometimes an hour or more late — spends his first hour looking for someone to gossip with, never turns in work on time, what work he turns in is always sloppy (filled with typos and other errors) and he inevitably requires extra supervision lest something terrible he does gets to a client inadvertently. He gossips about his boss to the rest of us in and out of the office, I’m sure he gossips about each of us behind our backs and just generally acts entitled. The sad thing is that I know we make the same amount of money and, instead of reprimanding or firing him, our bosses either have no idea what’s going on or don’t care. In the mean time, for the same money and no attention (even positive!) from management, I’m working 10 hour days. I’m starting to feel like the responsible older sister bitching about how the younger brother gets all the attention, but I know my coworker is destroying more than just my morale. What do I do? I don’t want to feel like a tattletale, but I also think the way I’m treated is unfair.

The first person to confide in is your immediate supervisor, since you don’t share a direct report in common with your coworker of horror. Your supervisor’s job is to supervise you, and you have a problem with a coworker that is affecting your morale. Schedule a meeting with her, and go over your problems with the coworker: from his late arrivals (you should document those, at least this week) to his shoddy work performance (especially if his error-laden work has landed on your desk for edits, or your client portfolio is affected by it) to him treating the office like Gossip Girl, you can go over them matter-of-factly rather than bitching about them and tie them all back to either how they are affecting office morale among the junior staff or have the potential to impact clients. To minimize the sounding-like-a-whining-older-sister, put it in memo form and make sure to tie each incident you describe back to either the staff or the clients.

And then, don’t mention that you feel ignored or like you aren’t getting positive feedback on your work. Instead, emphasize how your coworker’s behavior and management’s apparent acceptance of it is setting a new norm for all the junior staff: if showing up late, not proofreading and poor work product nets one only a talking-to, rather than a good firing, there’s little external incentive to be on time or put in extra effort. If you focus on how management’s acceptance of his behavior is creating an environment in which the junior staff feels his behavior is a viable alternative of how to behave at the office, they should be forced to further consider whether his positive attributes (whatever they are) outweigh his negative attributes.

That said, for all you know, he has the job because he’s the son of a client or a partner, and gets away with this behavior because he’s protected from on high. There might literally be nothing you can do to get anyone to acknowledge the effects of his bad behavior in any concrete fashion to you or the other junior staff, let alone acknowledge that he’s someone’s special, nepotism-enabled snowflake. If that’s the case, and you can’t stand working with him or in a place where your day-to-day quality work goes unacknowledged in the face of his more spectacular failures, it’s time to polish up that resumé and start looking for another job.

If you have a problem with a friend, relative, coworker, or other person in your life, email Megan at advice@thegloss.com or contact her via Formspring. If you have a problem with your boyfriend, you should probably just try talking to him.

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