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  • Writer's pictureJulie Y Barris

Useless Colleagues. Do I Report Them?

HR here I come!


I would like your take on, probably, a common issue.

I work on a tech development team with eight members, including myself, and I would say that six of us are hard-working and self-sufficient while the other two need a lot of help and constant guidance. For the sake of clarity I will call person number one, Jimmy, and person number two, Sally, neither being their real names.

For Jimmy, you could argue he is a hard-worker, but when working on individual tasks what he works on is pretty pointless. Our manager sees all the things has completed as positive contributions to our team, but honestly nothing has really been improved by them.

Sally's problem is that she needs to be retaught how to do the same task many times and still has problems when working on it. If she does the same work continually, she is fine. But let a month pass by and she has forgotten how to do it all over again. Retraining her takes time away from someone else's schedule and delays what they were working on.

What can I do about Jimmy and Sally? Regarding Jimmy, should I just keep my mouth shut and mind my own business, or do I tell my manager that Jimmy's work is not useful and explain why? And with Sally, I can't imagine my manager isn't aware that we frequently have to retrain her, but he is too nice to do anything. What can/should I do about it?

— JP


Dear JP,

Sorry to hear about your colleagues. You are right. Yours indeed is a common problem at work places today. To most people, an office is like a second home, and the people whom you work with your second family. You don't get to choose who's in it. Unless you want them out of the picture forever — hence getting them fired — that's an entirely different story. It sounds to me that isn't your intention here. So I'll scratch the "how to get rid of my useless colleagues 101" off my list. There are some things you can do to combat this unpleasant situation however.

What You Can Do

Know that you can't make someone step up their game if they are, in fact, incompetent. Having to teach a person the same trick repeatedly is time-consuming and non-productive, not to mention slap-in-the-face annoying. Keep in mind though that no one's perfect. Not even you. Bad #coworkers deep down are still good people, despite their not being fastest workers or the smartest of your bunch. You might find it more #beneficial to cut them some slack, and much less stressful to get along than to clash with them because of the "strange" ways they think, or how they choose to do things that might not be the most efficient according to you. Ultimately, forgive and forget makes the world go round.

#Standup for your opinions but be nice about it. No one can improve if they don't realize there is a problem. You might actually be doing them a favor by making it known, but you can choose to do so discreetly. Have you tried to approach them in a friendly fashion, express to them your concern, or guide them through things using a different method (i.e. some people might find written instructions more helpful than hand-on trainings, vice versa)? If you simply don't have the #patience for them anymore and have therefore decided to bring it up in a team meeting, do it, but be mindful with your tone of voice. You don't want to come off condescending or demeaning. In case you don't know everything about who's friends with whom behind the scene, pointing fingers publicly could sometimes backfire.

"If you simply don't have the #patience for them anymore and have therefore decided to bring it up in a team meeting, do it, but be mindful with your tone of voice."

Test the waters first. Your manager probably already has the best idea of everyone's strengths and weaknesses. After all, he's the one who hired or agreed to hire all of you. He or she might not always notice there's a change in the team's dynamic however, unless you, or your other teammates, bring it to his or her attention. You never know, maybe in actuality your concern isn't all that new. It's certainly more likely for your manager to take actions if more of you find it a problem. So next time when you have a private one-on-one with him or her, slip a word or two in regarding your two colleagues to see his or her reaction first, before talking profusely about their #negatives.

Finally, everyone hates a #backstabber, that's fact. And there's no such thing as a secret at an office. If you aren't quite ready to be that guy, that #officebitch (hey you can't help what others might think of you), minding your own business may not be all that bad for the time being. Remember, you still have to work with them at the end of the day, and chances are you will be dealt the same kind of people at one point or another again in your life. Who knows? Maybe they would wake up one day and decide to change their ways of thinking without your intervention, maybe they would be hit by a #miracle, or maybe you would. Be #openminded is the key here — for your own sake — to let go of that frustration inside you.

Need relationship advice? Ask away! We are not far away. We are just one screen away. To submit your question, click here.


Julie Y. Barris

Founder | Chief Editor | Advice Guru of Moody Melon Magazine

I am an author, artist, entrepreneur, and a graphic designer with a unique vision to contribute to the world one idea at a time. Besides creating and inventing things, I’m also fascinated by the human mind. I enjoy helping others help themselves by giving them advice on family and relationship matters.


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