What about the co-worker with no work ethic?
Plus: When your boss takes credit for a job you did
Q. Everyone conducts some personal business on company time, but one of my co-workers spends more time booking vacations and massage appointments than completing her work. It’s extremely annoying, but no one seems to say anything. I’m not her supervisor, so I don’t know if I should address it or just shut my door.
A. Unless you work in the hospitality industry and your co-worker is planning vacations for your customers, I don’t blame you for being upset. But I am guessing you already know being “upset” isn’t going to change things and will mostly impact you in ways that are counterproductive. So I am going to give you an alternative way to look at this.
Why not see this as a wonderful opportunity to focus on making your contributions and work ethic even more obvious to your employer? While your co-worker makes plans for margaritas under a palm tree, why don’t you focus on standing out as a valuable, hardworking, productive part of your workforce team?
And just because no one is saying anything, don’t be so sure that no one is watching. There will always be people who work hard and others who just slip by. If it’s any consolation, very seldom do slackers get promoted and grow in their career, and if and when layoffs happen, they’re always the most vulnerable.
Although this doesn’t seem “fair,” concentrate on your own performance, and try not to spend any more time or energy thinking about someone who’s not really contributing, and whose career path seems unfulfilling at best and short-lived at worst.
Q. I worked really hard on a project for which my supervisor then took credit when presenting the final product to his boss. Is there anything I can do?
A. There really are two important things to do. First, learn something important about your supervisor, and second, remember how this feels and don’t ever do it to anyone else.
In an ideal world, you would work hard to make your boss look good, and your boss would work just as hard to showcase your talent and contributions to the company in ways that help you shine. But the world and your work situation in particular aren’t ideal, so as you get involved in new projects, look for ways to let others know what your contributions are on it.
Simply letting your boss’ boss know how much you’ve enjoyed working on a project and how much you appreciate the opportunities you’ve been given would be one fairly easy way to let others know of your contributions. You also might ask your supervisor what you could do to be more visible to upper management. Knowing your desires might influence future credit-sharing.
Finally, take some comfort in knowing that more often than not, most people see through people who take credit for the work of others and in the long run those who contribute consistently and with a positive attitude or with a little self-promotion are most often noticed for the contribution they are making to the company.
Q. I accidentally hit "Reply All" to an e-mail and a bunch of people I had not intended to include in the correspondence received a note that I meant only for one of my co-workers to read. While it was not anything too bad, I did make a snide remark about one of the recipients and now, “if looks could kill,” I wouldn’t be writing to you. What do I do since I can’t take back the e-mail?
A. Ouch! I’ve been there myself, and please don’t get me a T-shirt to remind me. I doubt you’ll find anyone who hasn’t made this mistake, and you should feel glad it wasn’t an email with more serious consequences.
That said, sounds like you owe someone a written or personal apology, or maybe both. Then in the future, rethink what you put in emails and make a habit of just not saying/typing anything that personal or anything you wouldn’t want to share with others.
The simple fact is that emails are not private or confidential and once you’ve pressed the send button then there is no telling where they will end up. If you make these changes you can consider yourself lucky. You learned your lesson!
And good luck with your co-worker. I hope he or she will give you another chance. Don’t make excuses, admit you were in a bitchy mood and apologize, apologize, apologize. It may not undo the hurt feelings, but if you’re sincere, it’s the best you can do.
Paul Boynton, president and CEO of The Moore Center, Manchester, is a author, personal coach, corporate consultant, motivational speaker, host of the television show and radio show, "Begin with Yes" and author of the book by the same name. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at beginwithyes.com.