Marsha walked over to Francine’s desk with an armful of papers hoping to get some help with an assignment due over the next week. As she approached her desk it became apparent that this would not be an easy conversation, Francine had that look on her face, intrigued with her cell phone, and certainly not interested in talking about a new project. Marsha was very nice as she approached her desk and was hoping it was just her mind playing tricks with her. Marsha began, “Francine I am really overloaded right now and would like some help on a project. Would you mind doing some research work for me?” Francine scrunched up her face and replied, “Marsha I don’t do research work, I have been here ten years and I have passed the stage of doing
research work, get a student to do it!” Marsha was stunned since Francine was Marsha’s assistant and her job description was basically to do what Marsha asked her to do. The research work got done, but not without the usual fight and tension that always seemed to accompany the task in question.
How many of us have seen this type of scenario in our office space or place of employment. It doesn’t seem to matter what industry you are in, there always seems to be one person at least in each office, maybe that person is you. There are three reasons for this problem, entitlement, laziness, and complacency. I have seen this happen many times in the past within my career and if it is left alone too long it can be very hard to stop or change later on. Many times this is because someone has been in their position for a long time and now feels above doing work that they believe is below them, maybe they have been promoted in their mind because they stopped being asked to do mundane work on a regular basis, maybe it is time for a career or job change?
How do you deal with someone in this position? The best way is to curve the behaviour before it gets too far along, and the best way to do that is through a regular performance evaluation. The second way of helping that situation is to make sure you are mixing up the work on regular intervals. To do this you have to almost create a project plan for your employee and the best part is you don’t have to tell them. To create your project plan look over the job description for your employee, this is also something that should be reviewed in the performance evaluation as well, and plan their workload. You would start with their basic duties that are the staple of work that happens every day. Then you might give them a project once in a while to help them grow, to feel like they are climbing the ladder so to speak. After the large projects give them something that is within their job description, but that they don’t normally do such as research work which may be at the other end of the scale. This way you are creating a wave and dip system for their position so they don’t get the feeling that all they ever do is major projects and never have to do any grunt work. If you want them to work on the major projects all the time then give them a proper job promotion or maybe it is time for a career or job change. I’ll
let you be the judge of that.
About the Author
Bruce Outridge is a leadership and business consultant/ speaker helping supervisors and their operational staff create successful careers. Bruce is a regular comunist in many magazines and blog in the transportation industry. For more information visit his website at www.outridge.ca