Someone's not pulling their weight

02 May, 2008

Q A colleague is persistently late for the start of their shift. As well as causing inconvenience and annoyance to colleagues, this person is being paid for work they do not do while others are not paid for unscheduled hours they put in - about two hours or so every fortnight. Management are aware of this long-running situation but appear unwilling or unable to do anything meaningful about it. Any suggestions?

A If it's any consolation, your problem is not unusual. According to a survey by Investors in People, 79% of workers believe that underperforming "dead wood" colleagues are causing problems. It found that 46% think they are working directly with someone who fails to do their fair share of the work, and 40% add that bosses are doing nothing to address the issue. Those who do the extra work end up feeling undervalued and often start looking for a new job.

"Left unchecked, staff who don't pull their weight can breed resentment among colleagues and cripple an organisation's productivity," says IIP chief executive Ruth Spellman. "It's vital that managers are equipped with the skills and confidence to tackle the issue before it becomes a problem."

Investors in People offers the following advice to managers:

Create clearer goals and objectives to ensure people feel valued and motivated

Provide your staff with a personal career development plan with appropriate training

Make sure you recruit the right people for the role

Lead by example

Talk to staff, providing performance reviews and feedback.

As this person's colleague, and not their manager, it's obviously impossible for you to impose new working conditions, but you should again talk to your superiors about your concerns.

You don't have to specifically name the person you're annoyed about - why not simply suggest the ideas listed above, perhaps with other general thoughts about how life in the shop might be improved for staff and customers alike? If your manager won't listen, then it sounds like you're working for a company that doesn't deserve loyal staff. It could be time to move on before your justifiable resentment eats away at you.

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