Author Topic: Incompetent co-worker  (Read 4255 times)

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CNN

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Incompetent co-worker
« on: October 26, 2013, 06:20:06 AM »
I have a co-worker (AD) who I'm not sure if he is incompetent, lazy or just doesn't want to learn. In the 2 years plus that I've worked with him, he's been responsible for about 40-50% of work stress alone.

He is responsible for providing input to section every month for a report which determines the amount of money spent on projects and the likes. This means that he has to work within the budget provided and keep track of the amount of money previously approved. He's not the only one that has to do this and this work involves a simple Excel sheet. But the following scenario occurs every month

  • AD submits a provisional approval list. He is the only one that insists on doing so because he has made so many mistakes that he wants us to vet his work before he does a final submission.
  • We vet his work, point out the errors (lots and lots of them) and send them back to him.
  • He comes to copy our archived figures because he can't/won't figure out where he went wrong and he knows that we are careful with our own records. This basically defeats the purpose of two departments carry the figures as a way to check each other as we are always checking him.
  • He finally does the correct thing (note that the first steps might repeat themselves a few times) and submits a final list.

The next month, same thing again. This month, I was checking his records and realised that he didn't save the info he copies from us which is why he has to come for it every month. This was infuriating. I told him off and as usual, he went into his shouting defensive mode.

If anyone has followed me so far, my question is, what do I do next month? I don't want to review his work for him again, give him my data and all that. But that will delay my work. Reporting to his manager won't help (tried that before) and my own manager can only complain to his manager which doesn't help.

starry diadem

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Re: Incompetent co-worker
« Reply #1 on: October 26, 2013, 08:42:00 AM »
Document every interaction with him for this next round, esecially noting the time you and co-workers spend essentially doing his job.  Document this meticulously: dates, number of iterations of giving him the same information over and over, the occasions on which you've gone through with him what he should do to save data etc and the outcome of that (did  he save it this time? If not, how often did you have to give him the data?). If you can bear to, document more than one round and then estimate what his incompetence is costing in terms of lost hours of work on a monthly and also annual basis. Can you put a price n that? What's your hourly rate of pay, for example, that you can use to estimate costs. Also, documenting more than one round will show if he is repeating the same mistakes/omissions every time.

This is the sort of evidence to present to the 2 supervisors, with numbers and dates, so they can really see the magnitude of the problem.
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Pen^2

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Re: Incompetent co-worker
« Reply #2 on: October 26, 2013, 09:16:19 AM »
As starry diadem has suggested, document every single tiny thing with times (e.g. how long you spent picking up his errors) to the minute, so it's easy to see how much time he's wasting. Type it up into a spreadsheet or something and print it off. Take this to the supervisors, and if it's clear that, despite so much of the company's time and money being wasted by this guy, they just don't care, go higher up.

Try to adopt an attitude of, "This is a problem which is bad for all of us, and how can we all find a way to fix it?" rather than a kind of, "This is a problem, you fix it." If they aren't the most effective managers around, then they may respond to this by seeing you as the problem instead (I've known a lot of people who view those who point out problems as the problems themselves--they'd rather just not know). Hopefully someone else here can suggest some good phrases to use.

veronaz

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Re: Incompetent co-worker
« Reply #3 on: October 26, 2013, 11:37:30 AM »
Agree with documenting and presenting to supervisors.  But....why has this been tolerated for two years? ???

CNN

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Re: Incompetent co-worker
« Reply #4 on: October 27, 2013, 10:16:25 AM »
I'll try the documenting process. But I work in a government office in a developing country. People are used to sliding by. It's annoying.

jaxsue

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Re: Incompetent co-worker
« Reply #5 on: October 27, 2013, 01:31:10 PM »
Agree with documenting and presenting to supervisors.  But....why has this been tolerated for two years? ???

ITA. Maybe it's one of those jobs where tenure is involved? Still, at a time when qualified people can't find jobs it seems ridiculous that incompetent employees remain employed!  :P

TootsNYC

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Re: Incompetent co-worker
« Reply #6 on: October 27, 2013, 07:50:13 PM »


The next month, same thing again. This month, I was checking his records and realised that he didn't save the info he copies from us which is why he has to come for it every month. This was infuriating. I told him off and as usual, he went into his shouting defensive mode.


I don't want to do you a disservice and assume that I know what *you* meant by using the phrase "told him off." I personally would never use that phrase except to describe a true, angry, "dressing down." 
    If you use the phrase the way I do, no wonder her went into shouting defensive mode!


Quote
If anyone has followed me so far, my question is, what do I do next month? I don't want to review his work for him again, give him my data and all that. But that will delay my work. Reporting to his manager won't help (tried that before) and my own manager can only complain to his manager which doesn't help.

Perhaps you coach him. In a positive way.
    Perhaps you point out that he can and should save this information, and perhaps help him set up a folder in his email or on his server folder or desktop where he can put them.
    Perhaps you teach him the shortcut for moving emails to folders, so that part of the "filing" is fast, or show him how to rapidly access the folder on the server.
   
Yes, it's a lot of babysitting.  You shouldn't have to do it. But it will get you what you want more reliably than all the other drama will.

lady_disdain

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Re: Incompetent co-worker
« Reply #7 on: October 27, 2013, 08:55:11 PM »
I have more than a little experience with public service jobs in developing countries - enough to refuse to take one myself.

The problem is actually quite simple: he has no motivation to work properly because his job, salary and prospects depend very little on his actual productivity and competence and a lot more on keeping his head down and not making waves. He probably doesn't have goals and targets, his boss probably doesn't have them either. So, just pass the work on to someone who will do it.

I am sorry. I have no practical advice for you. I know I can't handle this situation either!

Girly

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Re: Incompetent co-worker
« Reply #8 on: October 27, 2013, 10:09:17 PM »
I'll try the documenting process. But I work in a government office in a developing country. People are used to sliding by. It's annoying.

I work 'with' a lot of people like this, and it's infuriating.

I finally had to have a sit down with myself and tell myself that no matter how upset I got, nothing would be done, they would never be fired, and I'd just have to learn to deal with it.

It still infuriates me.

veronaz

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Re: Incompetent co-worker
« Reply #9 on: October 27, 2013, 10:47:24 PM »
Well, itís a myth that government workers canít be fired for incompetence.  Iíve seen it happen at various levels.  A lot depends on how well the person is liked, how connected they are, their level of incompetence and how well a case (for firing is put together).  Ths can only happen if other people stop doing the person's work.

OP Ė I think that allowing him to submit a list for approval and correcting his mistakes, over and over, as a big part of the problem.  He knows you/others will essentially do his work for him.  Month after month.

Why not just stop doing it? ??? Itís not your responsibility.  Send him ONE email reminding him of deadlines, and tell him you no longer have time to do his work and your own (worded diplomatically).  Then when the report is not submitted on time, tell (whoever) itís because he didnít provided correct information in a timely manner.

lady_disdain

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Re: Incompetent co-worker
« Reply #10 on: October 27, 2013, 10:54:56 PM »
Well, itís a myth that government workers canít be fired for incompetence.  Iíve seen it happen at various levels.  A lot depends on how well the person is liked, how connected they are, their level of incompetence and how well a case (for firing is put together).  Ths can only happen if other people stop doing the person's work.

The OP is not in the US. Many countries, specially developing world countries, do have laws that forbid firing government workers except in some very specific cases and, even so, it is very hard to prove. Incompetence is often not a criteria.

veronaz

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Re: Incompetent co-worker
« Reply #11 on: October 27, 2013, 11:11:51 PM »
Well, itís a myth that government workers canít be fired for incompetence.  Iíve seen it happen at various levels.  A lot depends on how well the person is liked, how connected they are, their level of incompetence and how well a case (for firing is put together).  Ths can only happen if other people stop doing the person's work.

The OP is not in the US. Many countries, specially developing world countries, do have laws that forbid firing government workers except in some very specific cases and, even so, it is very hard to prove. Incompetence is often not a criteria.

For now we're not talking about the specifics of firing laws.  All I'm saying is to stop doing his work for him, and see what happens.

MrTango

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Re: Incompetent co-worker
« Reply #12 on: October 28, 2013, 09:39:45 AM »
The next time he comes to you for the information, send him an email with the corrections (as normal) and also include a note about how each time you have to review his work, it takes you x minutes/hours.

Copy your boss when you send it to him.

dawbs

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Re: Incompetent co-worker
« Reply #13 on: October 28, 2013, 09:44:00 AM »
The next time he comes to you for the information, send him an email with the corrections (as normal) and also include a note about how each time you have to review his work, it takes you x minutes/hours.

Copy your boss when you send it to him.

You may also want to use this as a form of documenting.

"Per our verbal discussion/agreement/pick best word here as of 10-18-13, the numbers included in this document need to be checked against the Widget Departments internal records.  Please send the file on once you have completed that step."

veronaz

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Re: Incompetent co-worker
« Reply #14 on: October 28, 2013, 09:50:06 AM »
The next time he comes to you for the information, send him an email with the corrections (as normal) and also include a note about how each time you have to review his work, it takes you x minutes/hours.

Copy your boss when you send it to him.

You may also want to use this as a form of documenting.

"Per our verbal discussion/agreement/pick best word here as of 10-18-13, the numbers included in this document need to be checked against the Widget Departments internal records.  Please send the file on once you have completed that step."

Definitely use it as part of the documentation.  But stop reviewing and correcting HIS work.  That is HIS responsibility and you need to say that in the email.