General Etiquette > All In A Day's Work

How to correctly tell boss that coworker is a bad fit?

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I guess that my title is the short version.  Slightly longer version:  I took a promotion in March to a position which is not my favorite job in the world, but my boss kind of begged and wheedled and I knew that I could do it well, so I took it.  Nobody else would even apply for the job internally, and it needed to be filled asap.  It's been fine.  I've streamlined most of the tasks and it's not nearly as bad as my predecessor had made it sound. 

They also had to hire a new clerk who serves as my backup among other tasks.  Hiring for this was actually done before I took over my position, the original backup had taken a really great promotion and new clerk got a ton of good training from her but did not take notes.  It turns out that the note-taking wasn't the problem.  New clerk just doesn't pay attention to detail.  Repeatedly.  It's as if he 

The biggest issue is that I'm going on maternity leave in about six weeks.  Technically, new clerk should be fine taking over my duties.  The know-how is there.  The issue is that he doesn't pay attention and skips necessary duties as he feels like it.  He gets extremely defensive when called out on any mistake, has flat out lied to my boss and me several times in the past week, and I'm really worried that I'm going to come back from leave to a giant disaster.  I've already decided to take a modified leave instead of 12 straight weeks, just to be safe.  Whenever we've gone to our boss, she makes excuses for new clerk.  I think that she doesn't want to deal with another new hire just before our busiest time and my leave.

This is a mess, I know.  But what do I do?  When I've pointed out errors in new clerk's work and ways to double check it, he says "Oh, I did that this morning."  Um, no, you didn't.  I can see the time stamps when you accessed the file, and you didn't even look at it until after I emailed you!  It's stuff like that

I know this is probably not an etiquette issue, so mods, feel free to move this. 

gramma dishes:
I'm honestly not sure if there is anything more you can do here.  You've already brought it to the attention of your boss who doesn't seem to be willing to address it appropriately.  It's kind of out of your hands at this point, isn't it?

Your boss is probably thinking that no matter how bad this employee is, he/she is better than the option--trying to find a new employee and train them in 6 weeks.

Maybe view this as part of the preparation for going on leave. Make up a list of things that the employee isn't doing, isn't doing on time, isn't doing correctly.

Then name the list, "Things to check up on while I'm on leave," or something like that. Go over it with your boss, not as "Employee messes up these things," but "Someone needs to keep an eye on these issues while I'm away or there will be a big mess."

So not, "Sam always skips Step 2 because he is lazy," but "Double check Step 2 is completed daily, or XYZ will result, leading to two days of TPS reports with the wrong in-process figures."

Well, you're a more dedicated employee than I am, because there's no way I would be modifying my maternity leave in order to cover for my lazy coworker.  I believe in working hard and doing a good job, but maternity leave is important, and to cut it short just because your coworker is lazy and your boss doesn't want to deal with it?  Nope. 

I think camlan has good ideas about how to neutrally phrase coworker's shortcomings to your boss, and I like the idea of putting a list in writing.  I might also be tempted to say to your boss "Honestly, I'm worried about what's going to happen when I'm gone because I spend a lot of time doublechecking and correcting coworker's work.  So here's a list of some things you'll need to keep an eye on."  If you think your boss wouldn't be receptive to hearing something so blunt then I'd just stick with "Here's a list of some things you'll need to keep an eye on." 

And really, you've done what you can to make your boss aware of the problem, and your boss is deciding how she wants to handle it.  I think you can go on maternity leave with a clear conscience.  You'll have a lot of clean-up work to do when you get back, but that's how your boss has chosen to spend your work hours.  And as an added bonus of not covering for your coworker, maybe after you get back from leave your boss will be more willing to replace him!

Luckily we had a meeting with my boss this past week to go over duties so we would all be on the same page.  I made up lists and gave New Clerk and boss identical copies so that there would be no confusion.  I reiterated several times, "New Clerk will be doing his TPS report as well as my two TPS reports DAILY, they must be done daily with a review date for every item or there will be very bad results."  New Clerk will have several of his duties reassigned to other clerks as well.  We are going to have a few days between now and when I leave where New Clerk and I switch positions for a day (I've done his job before, no issue there) so he can get the full feel of it while having the benefit of asking for help with me right there.  I'll then be able to review his work right then.

As for shortening leave, I'm taking six or eight full weeks off, and then using the rest of my FMLA to work part time for the next few months.  It should actually work out quite nicely for our family, as anything above six weeks is unpaid.


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