View Full Version : I don't understand protecting incompetant workers, weekend job

Zoe Girl
1-31-11, 8:18pm
I only work this job 2 days a week however it really gets my blood boiling at times. The bottom line to me is that there are 2 people who cannot come close to doing the same job as others in their position and everyone in the store seems to know it including the managers but they are protected in some way. It is really making me nuts.

So one weekend has these 2 workers and the alternating weekend has different workers in this position. The weekends are really different. What seems so clear cut is being answered by all sorts of crap about sparing their feelings, which I don't care about (especially since both are creating issues for one of our coworkers who is struggling with cancer, minor stuff that does not need to be stressing here in the middle of radiation treatments). Here is the recap of the weekend

* 3 separate times I was called up to help cashier since we had lines and each time there were people who should be cashiering in the office working on some game to encourage different kinds of sales. I went to the head manager for the weekend and today he talked to not just the person who was in charge but the person who was off last weekend who has been telling him this is a chronic problem. He is now going to make sure he emails BOTH people so the one who made the error doesn't get her feelings hurt.

* There is a person who has been allotted 3 hours to do a specific job daily. When another person does this it easily gets done in that time. However the problem person keeps on complaining that she needs 5-6 hours on the schedule so they change the schedule and cut hours from some other area and another worker. Over and over this has come up but when push comes to shove they just give her the hours.

There are more things but those seem the most clear cut. I am really ready to try and have a conversation with teh store manager and ask what I don't understand about this. I really like him and respect what he does however with these 2 employees he seems to protect instead of manage. If he cannot or will not do anything about it then I need to transfer stores and tell him that is why. My friend and coworker is ready to do this as well (she is the one with cancer). It is way too much stress to continue to deal with them and we cannot fathom what is so special about them that they have this magic protection. It makes me upset because I worked there while losing my house and these people were above me and still asking me how to do their jobs, but if I had their job and income I would have been better off.

I am reading Crucial Conversations which is a great book for dealing with these difficult situations, i am wondering if anyone has experience or advice on how to deal with this. It has been 2 years and I cannot keep this up forever. But also the more interesting question is 'what is it in an organization that keeps supporting employees who are not capable, what is in it for the manager or organization after all'

iris lily
1-31-11, 9:54pm
I don't know that you need to understand, but certainly you can give your manager your observations about blatant poor performance of your colleagues. If you do it in a freindly way, simply and without drama and using specific examples, that seems reasonable to me. But leave your personal resentments behind in this conversation because it will get you nowhere. And sure, transfer to another store if that's an option.

I can think of several reasons why employees who are losers are not fired and those reasons are seldom shared outside of the management circle.

Zoe Girl
1-31-11, 10:07pm
I know one reason for one person and I won't even share it here because I am not supposed to know. It is okay if management wants to protect her or the other person but I don't have to support it which is my bottom line. Maybe then the cost-benefit balance will tip towards at least not protecting them when they do not do their job well. My personal issues will stay out of it, but I am tired of supporting the less qualified in their jobs when I struggle myself. That is all, ...

1-31-11, 10:08pm
It's pretty simple - do your best and don't worry about your co-workers unless they are your responsibility. Your energy will be much better spent if you concentrate on your efforts and less on others performance. I suspect that your type "A" personality is probably causing you to worry too much about others - it is a common problem.

Don't sweat the small stuff and it is all small stuff. ;)


Zoe Girl
2-1-11, 10:45am
I do pretty much leave them alone but one is very persistant in coming over and trying to get me to do things for her. She is sneaky about it and uses flattery but after the fact you are smacking yourself in the head that you answered her question or did her task or whatever, again! I want to do my job and like a lot of others at this point we are not willing to work well above our job description simply because we can after last years reviews (very low) and promotion options (none). I did one project really above and beyond my job because I could and it was interesting. This lady had it cancelled and didn't even tell me or have anyone else tell me until I found out in a roundabout way that what I was writing was not being published at all. No one even called me, and the only reason I heard was that it hurt her feelings that someone else was recognized. To me that is an editing issue, tell me it sounds biased and offer some of your own accomplishments and I will write about those. In any case I quit that project that I created to meet a need that a upper manager expressed to me, plus I got a very low average review in a year where I created and managed several new things that worked within our overall structure. I am pretty burned on doing my best because I can't even get feedback. Honestly I ended up getting a write up since I run late all the time now, my morale is in the toilet and I only stay for my friend with cancer and health insurance until July. I can't even find out how to apply for a job that would actually pay my bills in this organization even though I have the education and work background of anyone when they started.

Okay I hear it is my problem because I am the one expressing this, that is true. If I didn't express it then maybe I would go home without any ties to work. I am more integrated in my life I think, everything is connected for me. I am learning assertiveness in big leaps and bounds right now and it is well overdue. So I want to do this, I was never able to talk to a manager about what happened with my newsletter and why I quit doing it, the front manager changed so maybe no one even noticed (but when I did it I got great compliments). So sticking to how it affects me and being assertive, I can address that.

2-1-11, 11:08am
I have found through experience, that if something isn't making sense to me, that chances are, I just don't have all the information. So I really try not to worry about others "getting away with things" because there may be more going on than is obvious to me. As a manager, I'm sure some of my staff wondered why I wasn't doing something about a situation. Often I was, but doing things behind the scenes, or sometimes letting data accumulate if I needed to take action. Sometimes these things take time.

As far as others conning you into doing their work, well only /you/ can stop that. You can smile sweetly and say something like "gee golly I'm really sorry, but I'm swamped myself right now, wish I could help" every time they ask. Eventually they'll get it.

2-1-11, 11:16am
Zoe, I would focus more on the things you can change (being late for work, for example) and less on how others are performing or not performing their jobs. As to the person who asks you do to things and you later wish you had not agreed, learn to say no to her. The fault is not only with her for asking, but with you for accepting.

Zoe Girl
2-1-11, 11:38am
I guess my problem is that I really care about the company and the managers. They are ready to have a mutiny on their hands with these two people frankly. The entire store is baffled and frustrated and it affects all the work we do when we see this on a constant basis. I t would actually be easier for me to just shut up and keep going and not caring, and I have heard this message my entire life. I just think there has got to be some connection between keeping my mouth shut and head down and the pitiful underemployment I have had my entire career. I did go to one manager when one person first got her job out of the back offices and told her the entire cashier staff was ready to mutiny. I was able to explain clearly what the problem was and have an effect.

iris lily
2-1-11, 11:49am
As a manager I am not annoyed or upset when a good employee gives specific, objective information about work that is not being done or is being done poorly. This would, of course, not in any way be tied to your own performance appraisal as in "sure I am late but Suzie is incompetant."

But with me, you'd better not try to represent anyone besides yourself because you instantly lose credibility. I am interested in YOUR information, I'm not interested in your opinons about what everyone else is thinking because I can't trust it. See the difference? Objective, verifiable, measured--that feedback is invaluable and frankly is rare coming from employees.

Zoe Girl
2-1-11, 12:08pm
Thank you Iris, when I did this before with a manager who has now quit I did it like that but with some information from others. Basically I told her that X number of people had approached me privately to say what was going on that upset them. I was able to honestly say these employees were hard workers and not prone to gossip in the workplace. What I was able to do from my own observations and the information from others was break it down to what made sense in a couple key areas so that it was usable to the HR person in talking to the person in question. So I heard many stories about who a cashier would call over this shift manager to answer a question for a customer and expected to be backed up in what they were saying and instead the shift manager gave out completely incorrect information. That was one thing that could be clearly addressed, asking experienced people about how things worked instead of telling the customer with authority an incorrect answer. There were 3 general points I was able to bring to our HR manager based on all the stories I was hearing, honestly most employees wanted to just tell the latest dramatic event and get sympathy for working with her which wouldn't have worked if they went straight to the HR person that way. I am not even sure the HR person could have filtered these stories into usable information to do corrective action. So then there is my personal aspect (which I do not bring up in these meetings) that I think I have a unique skill in getting to something effective from a whole lot of drama, I am just not in a position to do this in my job description and I frankly don't want to step on people's toes in the process.

2-1-11, 12:42pm
I'm with Iris lily: go have a brief chat with your manager about what you have seen with your own eyes. If the conversation is going well, then you can say something like: "If you go ask <two or three names here>, I think you'll hear similar stories." At that point it's up to the manager to deal with the issue. You've done your bit by telling the facts as you see them. If nothing happens, quit in July with no regrets. If something does, hopefully it all ends up better.

Just don't expect anything to happen immediately.

2-1-11, 2:13pm
I'd like to parenthetically point out that anti-union apologists are always railing about how incompetent people are kept on and lazy people supported in union jobs. Your experience shows what my life experience has taught me--that incompetent and lazy workers are kept on in all kinds of organizations, union or otherwise. In fact, in my experience, they're promoted as often as not.

If I were you, I'd start to emotionally disengage from this job. It sounds like you're investing far too much energy in it for the return you're getting.

Zoe Girl
2-1-11, 3:03pm
Thank you, Yes I know that this happens in all organizations whether union or not. I have seen enough. I can disengage but I don't want to be a doormat kind of passive either. This has taken about 2 years to build up and part of my emotional engagement is because of my coworker with cancer. I am seeing the increase in stress these 2 women are causing by their refusal to just take responsibility and do their jobs better. I cannot make that part of what I bring to the attention of management but that part makes me want to act really rudely. I mean we don't know if T is going to live and if she doesn't what will happen to her children (one severely disabled). Just 2 weeks ago we attended a funeral of another coworker who had cancer and died. So usually I have this a little more distanced but seeing how scared my friend is and then how certain people are creating more stress instead of being human,.. I am just done with this. T does have upper management support for doing what she needs for treatment and for not worrying about her job security but not protection from baseless claims against her.

2-2-11, 7:55am
T does have upper management support for doing what she needs for treatment and for not worrying about her job security but not protection from baseless claims against her.*You* can't protect her either. Been there, done that, lost the battle. At best, you can make managers aware of the issues as you see them and let them decide what's best for the organization. That's their job.

I didn't say you shouldn't support T. You can, and should, and it sounds like you are, to the best of your abilities. But, she must fight her own political battles; you can't do it for her without appearing just as biased (cliquish, pick your favorite grouping term) as those you're railing against.

2-2-11, 9:23am
Are you sure that neither of these employees has a disability that might cause them to need more help? Sometimes employers get tax breaks for hiring employees with disabilities. Also sometimes their co-workers can get extra pay for mentoring them, ie being an in-house job coach.

Zoe Girl
2-2-11, 8:51pm
I am very sure, one talks about how she knows so much so if she is not able to do the job then it is news to her. The other has a situation with her husband and I assume that is why they help her. I usually would support that but what I know of what her husband has done (very very secret but I have the blessing/curse that people feel comfortable telling me things cuz I don't blab) I cannot feel real good about it but have not even hinted that I know.

2-2-11, 10:52pm
Zoe, if you were a lifeguard watching this scenario happening in the water, what would you do? Do no more. Protect yourself or you will be no help to anyone.

2-4-11, 12:19pm
I am observing some similar things happening at one of my jobs right now, too. In my instance, I think it is because the managers themselves are pretty incompetent, and are not willing to confront really blatant problems taking place with the employees they supervise. There has been drama almost daily for the past couple of weeks because of people not doing their jobs, manipulating others into doing their jobs, reporting what others (including the managers) have said behind someone's back, etc. It is exhausting!

I try to keep the drama in my peripheral vision, so to speak -- to be aware of what's going on without responding to it or engaging in it. I keep my head down. I work hard to do my job well, and to avoid situations where I'll wind up doing someone else's job, instead. I do not go out of my way to protect my co-workers from the consequences of their own actions. I do not feed the drama, either by fanning the flames among my co-workers, or by going over the situations in my own head.

I do not know how long this situation can go on, but it's pretty clear to me that it's not sustainable forever. I figure I can keep my head down a whole lot longer than they can keep going round after round of ridiculous drama -- in fact, I'm banking on that.

2-6-11, 11:47pm
Perhaps it would help to point out that research has demonstrated repeatedly the negative effects negative employees have on the overall work environment and -- ultimately -- the bottom line. This quote from a recent post on the Harvard Business Review's blog by Bob Sutton (the author of the wonderful books "The No A**hole Rule" and "Good Boss, Bad Boss") seems particularly appropriate to this context:

"Studies on workplaces suggest, along similar lines, that bosses and companies will get more bang for the buck if they focus on eliminating the negative rather than accentuating the positive. For some time, I've been campaigning for a certain form of this, urging companies to eliminate the worst kind of colleagues from their workplaces. Research by Will Felps and his colleagues on "bad apples" is instructive. (You can hear him talk about it on This American Life). Felps decided to look at the effect of toxic colleagues on work groups, including what I would call deadbeats ("withholders of effort"), downers (who "express pessimism, anxiety, insecurity, and irritation," a toxic breed of de-energizers), and assholes (who violate "interpersonal norms of respect"). His estimates that a team with just one person in any of these categories suffers a performance disadvantage of 30% to 40% compared to teams that have no bad apples.

Similarly, another study by Andrew Miner and his colleagues tracked employees' moods, and found that the impact on an employee's feelings of a negative interaction with the boss or a coworker was five times stronger than that of a positive interaction.

So, negative interactions (and the bad apples that provoke them) pack a real wallop in relationships at work and elsewhere. They are distracting, emotionally draining, and deflating. When a group does interdependent work, rotten apples drag down and infect everyone else. Unfortunately, grumpiness, nastiness, laziness, and stupidity are remarkably contagious." (http://blogs.hbr.org/sutton/2010/09/bad_is_stronger_than_good_evid.html)


Zoe Girl
2-7-11, 9:28am
Thank you Lhamo, that is very informative. I am reading a book calle courageous confrontations and they said the bottom 20% of workers takes 80% of the work from managers. That rings true! It was a good weekend since the 2 problems did not work this rotating weekend however my coworker found that the report she was trying to write is no longer possible because one of them threw away all the data from the last year that was in a binder (can't be recreated). Also we had to change out end caps (the end shelves on the cashier lanes) because they were set according to the plans and then she just changed them which affects not just us but the people who stock in the early morning and goes against them in a report if they don't have the correct things stocked well. This was just what happened on a weekend she did NOT work, when she is here it is constant. The issue I brought up the last weekend that I felt so good about handling well, I heard back that the manager talked to her and she just said it wasn't true and is denying that it ever happened even though 3 of us went to the manager without knowing about the other people, so the manager let it go.

The only good news is that after many years my coworker is really working on leaving this area of the store or this store. That is huge in the middle of cancer treatments but I think she sees that it is finally necessary. This amount of stress could actually put her life in danger. I guess that how this area of the store runs after T leaves will be the consequence for the managers not finding a way to deal with this, Hey I know I would have a really hard time dealing with her. The background I have with her tells me it is almost impossible. I had a talk with her once in private and was very blunt and probably over the line. There were more blatant things happening, like I have evidence she stole work from T and I went to 2 managers and the problem lady still has her job. So I sat her down and told her there was a terrible feeling in our area among the 4 people and honestly from what I saw she was the cause. I told her that as someone who told me that I was working at that store so she could help me be saved by God that I expected behavior that made me want to listen to what she had to say, but her behavior was nothing like I would emulate. I can see no other option besides all of us leaving, like there have been so many people transfer outof this area and store already, I just didn't want to AGAIN take the financial hit for someone else's bad behavior. It is too much some days.