I know someone who has worked for umpteen years. During those years this person has arrived to work late more times than not. The person says they just cannot make it on time no matter what. The company has even tried changing the hours, yet the person will still arrive late.
This person also took off three months of work when things went wrong at home. No, this person did not go out on personal leave, this person just called in sick everyday for three months.
When work slows down, and this person does not have enough to do in the afternoon, this person reads their paperback novel for the rest of the day. I asked, "Don't you get in trouble?" and the response was "They like me."
Anyone one else would have been fired. Please explain how this person keeps their job? I just do not get it.
by Ronnie Ann, Work Coach
I can understand how unfair that seems! While ideally I’d want to know a few more facts, I’ll do my best to give you some answers.
Let’s look at the issues you raise one by one:
Arrives late: While some jobs require a person to be on time with absolutely no give whatsoever, many places understand there’s more to a job than just punching in on the dot. In this case, it seems the person (let’s assume it’s a she for this answer) has a flexible employer. The fact that she continues to arrive late and still has the job could simply mean the company understands she has personal issues – possibly health problems or problems at home – and is still willing to cut her some slack as long as she gets the work done.
In her post Always Late for Work? Melissa Dylan suggests ways for negotiating an issue like this:
“If you really can’t make it in on time—and some people really, truly can’t, no matter how hard they try—sit down with your boss before she has a chance to approach you…If you show that you’re working on your weaknesses and indicate a willingness to make it up in other areas, it will be easier for your employer to accept tardiness.”
As long as you have something to contribute, a good company will work with you to resolve personal issues.
Reads paperback novel at work: From what you write, it seems she gets her work done. Maybe that’s enough for the company - especially considering how long she’s worked for them. Also, there are companies or departments with unsteady workflows that expect people to keep themselves occupied during slow times so, when things speed up, they have ample trained help available. Not knowing her job or industry, I can only guess this could be part of the thinking.
But I’m also curious whether this is accepted practice for everyone in her department or only this one woman? If it’s only this one woman and she makes it obvious, that would be horrible for morale and show there’s a management problem that needs to be addressed. Otherwise, if this is accepted behavior for anyone, then it’s ok.
Three months off with no leave: As for being allowed to call in sick every day during a tough time, without knowing more I’d say this may be a reflection of a very understanding company with informal policies and room for special arrangements. But if this company requires others to follow strict rules and only makes exceptions for this one woman without good reason, then there’s clearly a real management problem here that’s bigger than just the decisions surrounding this one person. (I kind of doubt that’s the story here.)
What you didn’t tell us is whether you work with her or you’ve simply heard about her work habits. If you actually work with her and are not being treated fairly yourself, then you might want to speak with your supervisor. But please know you’d be most effective if you don't make the discussion about her, since you don’t know what might be behind her “special” and unequal treatment. The real issue is: How can you make the job better for yourself? Is there something you need that you aren’t getting? Keep the discussion focused on you and stay away from what an employer would see as “sour grapes” since that would probably come back to bite you in the end.
But if you don’t work there and are only hearing about this, my guess is that even though it seems she’s getting away with something, in actuality, she may be within the bounds of acceptable behavior in her particular company.
This reminds me of a woman I worked with who always seemed to be on the phone or talking to someone in her office about personal matters. She also came in late almost every morning. It looked like she was getting away with murder just because the boss liked her and she knew how to get around him. But the more I found out, I realized she was getting a lot of quality work done – faster than most - and her boss understood this and let her do things her own way. As far as I’m concerned, as long as the work is getting done and the company is satisfied, a good boss (and there are plenty out there) shows flexibility where possible.
For me it’s mostly about perspective. We can never know what another person is going through until we walk in their shoes. If someone has a job that cuts her some slack but it doesn’t take away from me at all, then why should I worry about how she’s being treated? If I like her, I should be happy for her. If I don’t like her, well… then I think there’s more going on with my feelings than with her work habits.
Best advice is not to worry about what she is or isn’t doing and focus on improving your own job conditions if you aren’t getting everything you deserve! If she weren’t serving the company in some way – no matter what – she wouldn’t be there. That’s how business works – management makes room for certain quirks as long as they get what they need.
Of course, we don’t really have enough details to know what the actual story is… but if what she says is true and the real explanation turns out simply to be that - a la Sally Fields - they really like her, then the company might very well be cutting her some extra slack. So what? It happens. After all those years, she’s probably earned it. And if this bugs other employees she works with, their most effective “revenge” would be to focus their energies on getting the company to like them too!
Hope that helps a little, Diane.
Susan Ireland’s Two Cents
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