In our professional life we get to know one employee who is not easy to get away with. That one person is toxic and annoying. You are embarrassed because that person does not know how to read social signals and act accordingly. Whether you are in a meeting or a lunch, when she sits beside you, she drives you nuts. Since you have your own work, targets and challenges to meet, you don’t want to waste time waiting around for her. She may not be doing all these intentionally; she may be nice and honest. But at times you don’t simply know what to do with that person. It happens. What you need to do is learn some tricks to deal with such clueless workers.
When the person is a co-worker…
- Analyze the behaviors of the worker: You must closely analyze the behaviors of this worker and whether she can be rightly termed as ‘clueless’. You must not be wrong in judging her. Sometimes it happens that an individual is really talented but not suited for the particular role, she is playing. Or she is new in the field, so taking more time than usual to learn and gain perfection. Don’t draw conclusion too early. Instead you must help her to learn skills. Spend some time with her asking where they do need help. If possible, talk with your manager regarding her behaviors and try to come to a conclusion that is beneficial for the whole team.
- Act in a professional way: She might be driving you crazy. Whatever may be the situation, don’t act in the heat of the moment and let your emotions rule over your logical mind. Expressing your bitterness will affect your performance and break your long-built good image. Don’t take resort to condemning, shouting publicly or badmouthing. Remember, she might not be getting the signals you are sending. Since you are at workplace, you must follow the office ethics.
- Have simple, clear conversation: While talking to that person, always be clear in your words. Be straightforward without sounding harsh. Explain the same point twice if you think she just pretends to understand but actually does not. Don’t be sarcastic because she may not grasp what you are actually trying to say.
- Discuss the matter with management: You have tried all the means, but failed. You talked with your team members and all of you took steps to resolve her issues, to increase her productivity and help her evolve as a better professional. Now is the time to let another person, someone of higher authority, step in and take the matter in their hands. To fix the problem, the management can talk to her, train her, change her role. If needed, they will fire her. It is up to the management how they will deal with the issue.
- Confront her if she tries to home in on your achievements: In every office, you find one employee who tries to be the focus of attention by taking credit for work she hasn’t done. If you come across such event, try to confront her politely. Be firm while maintaining that you have accomplished that specific target. So you should be on the receiving end of all praises, and not her. Tell her to reveal the fact as soon as possible. Give her some deadline and tell her you will be taking matters into your own hands if she delays. If this does not work, send a mail to your manager and her mentioning you want to have some serious discussion.
When the person is your boss’s favorite…
- Find out to what extent this clueless worker’s actions are having negative consequences: If you think her behavior is harmful to the extent that it is negatively affecting the team spirit and some team members have been looking for ways to ignore her by moving to some other projects, bring it to your boss’s attention. If your boss likes her and she is trying to use this factor to remain in the limelight without doing any productive, quality work, talk to your boss. Tell him that she is not adding anything valuable to the team work.
If the fact is that you don’t like your co-worker simply because your boss likes her, you must think twice before taking any step. Be rational while judging her. You raise a complaint against her for no good enough reason; your boss listens to you and moves her to some other team. A new member comes who gives you the same bolts time and again. Is this going to work? So what is the real problem? If you have a personal problem with her attitude and actions, it’s better to ignore her since her behaviors are not causing any potential loss to others, or more specifically to the company.
- Focus on your achievements and learn to promote those: If you think your boss is not giving you constructive feedback that you deserve, you must take small efforts to get noticed. Your boss may shower praises on your lazy, inefficient co-worker during team meetings or group lunches; you must not get bogged down by all these. What you can do is to do some mouth publicity of your own achievements. For example, in a team meeting where discussion is going on regarding a presentation where your involvement is required, you can ask your boss or other members whether they liked some earlier presentations that you made for some ‘abc’ projects or ‘xyz’ projects. When your boss walks in to your cube to assign you some work, don’t just say ‘yes’. Instead take his pre-occupied mind to visit some of your recent accomplishments asking him how much he liked your work or whether he thinks of ways you can improve. Thus you can let your manager and others know that you are far more capable than that credit-gobbling team mate.
Whether the clueless employee is a co-worker, or someone your boss likes too much for no good reason, you must treat her professionally.