Monday Management Topic: Managing Co-Worker Struggles
Sometimes the common good for all out-weighs loyalty. In an ideal world, we would all get along on the job and no one would ever step out of line or make terrible decisions. A work environment would consist purely of friendly interactions and hardworking people. However, this isn’t an ideal world. For some, each day may involve picking up the slack for their peer who spends all day on personal calls, while others may contend with sexual harassment.
While at times it seems easiest to let these issues go, there certainly times when it is best to act. Bay News 9’s recent story of a pilot’s blood alcohol level hitting .27 percent while on the job is a frightening example. FFA flight inspector, Paul Kahle sensed alcohol on the breath of the pilot (Phillip Yves Lavoie) upon his landing and asked for a sobriety test. His own attorney even reported that Lavoie had been drinking before his flight departed Tampa. Surely, one of his co-workers witnessed signs leading up to the incident, if not his drinking just before departing on that very flight. Not only could this behavior have led to a crash which could have killed innocent people, but now Lavoie himself is possibly facing 15 years in prison.
So be it a small or big issue, here are some suggestions when it comes to reporting co-workers:
1. What are your motives?
We’ve all been guilty of jealousy or inaccurate opinions of others. First things first, you should re-examine the scenario. Have you had problems with this individual in the past? Are you projecting wrong doing on to their harmless actions? Irene S. Levine of the NYU School of Medicine suggests your concern could be “a passive-aggressive way to sabotage a co-worker about whom you have ambivalent feelings.” It is hard to step back and honestly evaluate, but this step can save you a load of frustration down the line. Sometimes it is you who has to overcome personal issues, not the other person.
2. Determine the severity of the situation.
There is no unfortunate history between you and this particular co-worker. You feel confident they are genuinely doing something inappropriate. The main question to consider during this evaluation: are their actions interfering with productivity? If the answer is no, then you are more likely dealing with a difference of personalities. If it isn’t interfering with the co-workers job performance or your own, then move on.
3. Decide on the best approach.
Perhaps the co-worker spends all-day on Facebook, which prevents them from completing work and leaves you to pick up the slack. This type of situation is best to face head on. Refer to this conflict resolution conversation guide in beginning a discussion with the co-worker in question. Despite your frustration with the individual, it may be they aren’t aware they are causing a problem. Even if they are, it shows your good character to give them a chance to change before burdening your supervisor with the problem.
4. Recruit authoritative assistance.
If the conflict resolution attempt yields no results, it may be time to approach your boss. If you do take the concern to your supervisor, stick to the facts and focus on positive results, not punishment.
5. Perhaps your situation is very severe.
A co-worker keeps making distasteful comments, or you’ve seen them sneaking some alcohol shortly before the end of their shift. Even if these actions are not directly affecting you, it is important to report the behavior. These are issues to immediately report to your boss; don’t try to take on finding a resolution yourself. This is never easy, because you want the best for your co-worker, but it is better for them to face the situation at an early stage rather than later on.
The big takeaway when it comes to reporting co-workers: save everyone pain down the line. Whether you take the first step and realize you need to seek emotional guidance in the situation or you take the final step and report a very serious issue to a superior, your actions are better for the common good of all in the long run.