This story was related to me by a friend. My friend has a coworker who calls in sick frequently. He says that the coworker rarely works a full week in the office. When she calls in sick, her workload has to be spread among her staff and her colleagues because they are on tight deadlines. Her portion of the work has to be done in order for them to proceed with their portion of the work, so they wind up doing it for her because she is often gone.
When she returns to work, she is often grumbly and upset that work progressed without her. She complains often about being "left out of the loop."
This coworker was out of the office on vacation last week. Yesterday, she accosted my friend for leaving her out of the loop on some decisions and actions that had to take place while she was gone. Before she went on vacation, my friend and the coworker sat down and discussed the things that needed to be done, and the coworker agreed that my friend would carry them out. He did precisely what they discussed, so he was stunned that she was so upset that he had carried out these tasks and that she accused him of leaving her out of the loop.
The coworker went to their boss and complained about my friend, saying he had done these tasks and intentionally left her out of the loop on the them. My friend was called into the boss's office with the coworker to discuss what happened. My friend was able to show that he'd discussed these actions with the coworker before she left on vacation, so he was simply carrying out what he thought they'd agreed to. The coworker would not agree that my friend had done nothing wrong. Instead, she insisted that he should have e-mailed her last week to tell her that he had carried out the tasks; therefore, he left her out of the loop. FWIW, the boss doesn't think my friend did anything wrong.
My friend is wondering how to handle this coworker, who believes it is his responsibility to ensure that she is always in the loop. When he told me this story, I said that I didn't think it was necessarily his responsibility, particularly in this situation. She was on vacation. They agreed he would carry out certain tasks during that time. He doesn't report to her -- they are equal colleagues. She didn't ask him to contact her with a status report while she was on vacation.
I suggested to him that the issue seems to be less that he is keeping her out of the loop and more that she is leaving herself out of the loop. If she wanted to know what was happening in the office while she was on vacation, what prevented her from e-mailing my friend to ask about the status of the tasks?
I recommended that he avoid JADE-ing and suggested that he might say something like, "When you're away from the office, you are always welcome to e-mail me to find out the status of projects."
Would this response to the coworker's complaints be polite/acceptable given the situation?
FWIW, she often makes the same complaint about other coworkers and staff in the office -- they leave her out of the loop. I would argue that there is nothing keeping her from requesting status reports if she wants them. In addition, while she just returned from vacation yesterday, she called in sick today. My friend is still trying to wrap up portions of the projects that have to be completed. He anticipates that the coworker will growl at him again when she returns to the office tomorrow.