Q: I have a co-worker who keeps taking on my responsibilities at work. He calls customers back, sets up meetings for my projects and assigns...

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Q: I have a co-worker who keeps taking on my responsibilities at work. He calls customers back, sets up meetings for my projects and assigns projects to my staff.

I’ve tried talking to my boss, but he says I’m just being territorial. How am I supposed to do my job with my co-worker constantly interfering?

A: Your boss is telling you he doesn’t want to get involved in the conflict between you and your co-worker. Most managers spend approximately 80 percent of their time mediating workplace conflicts.

Your boss figures if he can get you to fix the problem — whew! — he’s off the hook.

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If you want to change your boss’s mind, you need to make it in his best interest to put a stop sign in front of your marauding co-worker. At the moment, you have a problem and he does not.

So make a list of ways your co-worker’s behavior makes the company or your boss look bad.

Perhaps you’ve both called the same customer (making the company look disorganized). Perhaps you’ve both ended up doing the same tasks (wasting the company’s time and money).

Perhaps people outside your department have been asked by both of you to do the same thing (which makes your boss look bad). Now rank order these problems as you believe your boss would prioritize them.

Review your descriptions and make sure you use neutral language. For instance, “We both called Frank Evans last Monday. When I called, Frank was confused why both of us called.” You don’t say, “My co-worker, the undermining idiot, made me look like a bloody fool again!”

Now you’re prepared to sit down and let your boss know about his problems with your co-worker.

I know you’re mad, but keep that to yourself. Your boss will only take action if you stop hissing about territory and start being concerned about the agenda of your boss.

The last word(s)

Q: A supervisor in another department keeps making sexual advances, even though I’ve made it clear I’m not interested. How long do I keep putting up with him?

A: As long as it takes to read this answer. Talk to your boss and Human Resources. In this day and age, there’s no reason to put up with harassment.

Daneen Skube, Ph.D., can be reached at 1420 N.W. Gilman Blvd., No. 2845, Issaquah, WA 98027-7001; by e-mail at interpersonaledge@comcast.net; or at www.interpersonaledge.com. Sorry, no personal replies. To read other Daneen Skube columns, go to www.seattletimes.com/daneenskube