Author Topic: How to nicely tell a coworker to stop flirting and get back to work  (Read 9039 times)

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despedina

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We have a newer gal at work who was hired last Nov. Shortly after being hired, this woman, who we'll call "T" started telling the trainer and our director the sad tale of how she is living in a shelter with her small son and is renting a car everyday to get to work.  We felt so bad that instead of doing secret santa we donated the money we would have spent to her cause after our director called us to a meeting to share the situation.
T finally finished training and came out on the floor. Most of us in our dept have a client list and we have a few "assistants" that do order entry and cover for us when we are out. This is T's job. The first few weeks she was doing a stellar job no complaints. Then I started noticing that she is spending a lot of time sitting on the young mens' desks in our dept chatting. I noticed this because one of the men sits right next to me and she's there 5-6 times a day and in his "personal space", which he dislikes but can't find a way to tell her nicely to go away. These guys have simply been nice to her and she seems to have gotten the wrong idea. She's in her early 40s and them in their mid 20s and they simply are not interested. Normally I wouldn't care about something like this going on but recently her work load has declined significantly to where the rest of us are being asked to stay late to pick up the slack. I have been asked specifically to help T at the end of the night. The other assistants are also irritated because they can see they are doing the majority of the work.  My director has yet to do anything about it, probably becuase she is soft hearted toward this woman.
What I want to do is find a nice way to tell her to get back to work.  Any suggestions? Its really starting to be a problem picking up her slack

Firecat

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Re: How to nicely tell a coworker to stop flirting and get back to work
« Reply #1 on: March 04, 2013, 07:55:30 PM »
What if you were to walk up to her when she's having one of her chats and say something like, "Hey, T, did you take care of X yet? I need that to be done before I can take care of Y." And that gives the guy in question time to say something like, "I need to back to what I was doing, too."

something.new.every.day

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Re: How to nicely tell a coworker to stop flirting and get back to work
« Reply #2 on: March 04, 2013, 10:21:31 PM »
I think part of the onus is on the people with whom she is speaking.  We have a co-worker who often "makes the rounds" and talks to people.  After a bit, I learned he will not end the conversation, but takes the hint if I pick up the phone and say "Oh, I have a call to return." or start typing and say, "Well, I need to get back to this." 

Also, how is the work usually distributed?  Can't the people who are helped by the assistants assign tasks to them?  I would just make sure "T" has something to do at all times, since she is obviously not self-motivated. 

NyaChan

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Re: How to nicely tell a coworker to stop flirting and get back to work
« Reply #3 on: March 05, 2013, 12:07:21 AM »
Are you at all in a position of authority over this woman?  If not, I don't think it is your place to approach her about it beyond saying, "Hey, do you have that report that I need to complete my portion?" or "Hey, if you are done with your quota, could you help me with this?" to remind her.  I would take this up with the actual supervisor.

citadelle

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Re: How to nicely tell a coworker to stop flirting and get back to work
« Reply #4 on: March 05, 2013, 12:26:50 AM »
If you do take it to your supervisor, I would say that the work is not getting done, but I wouldn't mention the flirting. It isn't that important what she is doing instead of working, but that she isn't working. I think the flirting thing is a red herring. If you focus on that, she will deny it and then the real point is lost.

bopper

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Re: How to nicely tell a coworker to stop flirting and get back to work
« Reply #5 on: March 05, 2013, 09:10:47 AM »
"Boss, we have a situation I would like to talk to you about. Normally I would not get into how people work but this is starting to affect me and others.   I realize I may not have all the information  but this is what I am observing.   It appears to me that  Flirty's work load has declined significantly to where the rest of us are being asked to stay late to pick up the slack.  However, I also observe that she has time to sit at coworkerdude's desk and chat 5-6 times a day.  He has mentioned to me that he doesn't like this particularly but doesn't know how to get her to go away so he isn't encouraging this.  I would like you to observe for yourself and get her back on track with doing her assignments.

Possibly add:
" Now, here is where I am starting to speculate...given that she came in with her stories about how she was living in a shelter with her small son and is renting a car everyday to get to work and now she doesn't feel the need to actually work so much...I am wondering if she 1) has embellished her story about how hard she has it and is using us or 2) Had to live in a shelter because she lost her previous job because she doesn't have a good work ethic. Either way I don't want pick up her slack when clearly she has time to do what she was assigned.


To the coworker, give him some phrases:

"Sorry, Flirty, I don't have time to chat.  I have to get the TPS report out."
"Sorry, Flirty, I don't have time to chat. I have to call a client."

Or prearrange that when she starts walkign over you call him. 
Or just call him when she sits down and he can mouth "Sorry I have to take this."

Or you can say to her "Flirty, you seem to have a lot of time to chat with Jack but yet I am staying late to do work you don't have time for. Why is that?"
or "Thank God you are here.  For some reason boss gave me some of your tasks to do, but clearly you have extra time. Let me get them for you."
or 'Flirty, if you don't have anything to do it is protocol to let boss know so you can another assignment.  I can mention it for you next time I see her."

oceanus

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Re: How to nicely tell a coworker to stop flirting and get back to work
« Reply #6 on: March 05, 2013, 11:20:33 AM »
Good reply from bopper.  I agree with all of if.

However, I need to make sure I understand something:

She is living in a shelter and RENTING a car everyday?
So you folks gave her the secret santa money?
???

Seems it would make more sense to take turns giving her rides to/from work.  For a fraction of what she is spending on car rental she could buy an old car OR put the $$ towards getting an apt.
« Last Edit: March 05, 2013, 12:49:48 PM by oceanus »

Giggity

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Re: How to nicely tell a coworker to stop flirting and get back to work
« Reply #7 on: March 05, 2013, 11:33:02 AM »
If you're not her boss, it's not your problem.
Words mean things.

stargazer

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Re: How to nicely tell a coworker to stop flirting and get back to work
« Reply #8 on: March 05, 2013, 12:05:46 PM »
If you're not her boss, it's not your problem.

Actually, it IS her problem because she's being asked to stay late to cover what T does not get done due to this time she spends chatting.

oceanus

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Re: How to nicely tell a coworker to stop flirting and get back to work
« Reply #9 on: March 05, 2013, 12:09:38 PM »
If you're not her boss, it's not your problem.

Actually, it IS her problem because she's being asked to stay late to cover what T does not get done due to this time she spends chatting.

Yes, work is not getting done, and T perching at an adjacent desk getting her flirt on is distracting.  (Those guys needs to also be more proactive......."Excuse me, T, I have work to do.")

Giggity

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Re: How to nicely tell a coworker to stop flirting and get back to work
« Reply #10 on: March 05, 2013, 12:15:07 PM »
You still don't get to correct co-workers. That is the supervisor's job.
Words mean things.

Moray

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Re: How to nicely tell a coworker to stop flirting and get back to work
« Reply #11 on: March 05, 2013, 12:19:01 PM »
If you're not her boss, it's not your problem.

Actually, it IS her problem because she's being asked to stay late to cover what T does not get done due to this time she spends chatting.

The work not getting done is causing problems for the OP. This is true. It's still not her place to tell T to knock it off or police her (excessive) social interactions. She needs to take it to T's boss and make the focus on how [x thing] isn't getting done. The reason T isn't completing her work really doesn't matter.
Utah

MrTango

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Re: How to nicely tell a coworker to stop flirting and get back to work
« Reply #12 on: March 05, 2013, 12:23:33 PM »
I agree with Moray.  I would go to the boss and let her know that T has been spending a lot of time socializing around the department during work hours.

If boss doesn't do anything about it, then go over Boss's head to HR.

BeagleMommy

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Re: How to nicely tell a coworker to stop flirting and get back to work
« Reply #13 on: March 05, 2013, 12:46:08 PM »
Start with your supervisor.  You might say that there have been a lot of times when you and other employees have been asked to stay late to pick up T's slack and that it is becoming habitual.  If nothing gets resolved then you, and other employees, need to go to HR.

She may give supervisor another sob story as to why she's not meeting the quota, so be ready for that.

Deetee

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Re: How to nicely tell a coworker to stop flirting and get back to work
« Reply #14 on: March 05, 2013, 01:05:27 PM »
If and when you approach your supervisor you can discuss:
1) What amount of work she is assigned and completes
2) What amount of work the other people in her position are assigned and complete
3) What other people are needing to do when she does not finish her work.

Do not discuss:
1) Her clothing
2) Her age versus the age of those she is talking with
3) The discomfort of anyone else (unless that person has asked you to back them up on something)
4) Any flirting you find distasteful

Borderline for discussion:
1) Excessive socialising, but only as it relates to the fact that she appears to have time to complete the work.