Co-Worker “No Shows”

A reader writes….

My co-worker, Sue, is absent all the time, and it’s starting to affect me both personally and professionally. I need her to complete her portion of work so that we, as a team, will meet deadlines. Her constant “no shows” are making me dread work. It also seems unfair that I’m here every day, yet she doesn’t seem to be committed to the job. What should I do?

Dear, “No-Show Dread,”

 I definitely sense some resentment, and it sounds like in your case, absence DOES NOT make the heart grow fonder!

While there may be a good explanation for Sue’s absence, I can understand your frustration. We all make an effort to show up on time, put in the long hours, and in many cases, rely on our co-workers to collaborate on ideas, complete tasks, or get through projects. How can you “rely” on someone… if they’re never there?!?

I suggest you speak with your manager about the situation and how it is impacting your performance. Your boss may be thinking about Sue’s best interests (whether the absences are due to medical reasons, personal difficulties, etc.). It’s also very possible that Sue has made an arrangement with your boss to deal with her extenuating circumstances, and your boss may not be willing or legally able to share that with you. Even so, it is important that your boss realize the issues your co-worker’s absences are creating for you professionally.

You can gracefully address the situation, without sounding nosey, by keeping the conversation about your productivity concerns. Keep emotions and/or personal feelings out. This is business. You were hired to get a job done, and if you are prevented from achieving that objective for whatever reason, it’s important to raise the red flag.

Ideally, your boss would respond in one of two ways:

1)   Remind Sue that her team relies on her regular attendance and if she cannot fulfill her role on the team, a change will be necessary.

2)   Realize that Sue’s extenuating circumstances do not make her a good fit for this particular team and alter her job responsibilities so they can be completed within the schedule that Sue can work, leaving the rest of the team to move forward with their responsibilities.

Go get ’em tiger!

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Debora
    Mar 04, 2011 @ 17:25:39

    Co-Worker Absent Article.

    Just my feelings and I may be wrong…Having been on both sides of this issue my feelings are that any good project manager should have structured and implemented a backup plan to deal with unforeseen situations. Confidentiality is a must in the workplace when it comes to personal issues, and as long as you’re doing your job as it relates to the project should be your only concern unless your work is generated by the absent individual. A good project manager would have had procedures in place to handle the problem. My question is where is this resentment coming from and are you a real team player. No one will ever be 100% happy with their work 100% of the time. Don’t use another individual as an explanation for your performance issues.


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Anita Clew's blog posts are intended for general guidance and should never be taken as legal advice. In all instances where harassment, inequity, or unfair treatment is believed to be present, please consult your HR Department or legal representation.
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