She comes in late, takes Fridays off and makes no effort to bring in new clients.
Q: I work in a very small office. My boss, the owner of the company, is a very nice, sweet person — a tranquil, soft-spoken Buddhist. And I think one of my co-workers takes advantage of him.
She comes in late every morning and takes Fridays off. Despite her huge salary, all her clients were inherited and she makes no effort to bring in new ones. (I have brought on more than 25 new customers in my short time here.) Most recently she took three months off, paid, for a supposed “hip replacement.” But I overheard her on the phone talking to a liposuction specialist, and it appears she had a nose job, too. In any case, our business suffered tremendously while she was out, because her customers did not place new orders, and she did not want anyone soliciting them.
The bottom line is that I think she is deceiving the boss and he’s too nice to see what’s happening. Should I say anything?
A: Framing this as a matter of protecting your overly nice and (from your description) possibly clueless boss seems fishy. I think the real issue is that you find this co-worker irritating. Start by separating legitimate problems from murkier and more subjective, or even outright speculative, complaints.
For instance, if you feel that the new business you’re bringing in hasn’t been properly valued or rewarded, that’s a real concern. Clearly it’s a problem if this colleague is territorial about her customers in ways that hurt the overall business. These are topics you can bring up with your boss in concrete ways, particularly if you can suggest solutions.
But if that conversation tips into your theories about a colleague’s personal life, based on overheard phone calls, you could find yourself on thin ice. The boss presumably knows that this colleague takes Fridays off; he may also know the full details (whatever they are) of her leave. Instead of coming across as concerned, you risk seeming like a busybody or a tattletale.
That doesn’t mean you might not have legitimate issues or grievances. Just make sure you frame them as directly relevant to you and the business. Don’t worry about the boss being too nice to someone else; focus on making sure he’s fair to you.
Submit questions to Rob Walker at firstname.lastname@example.org.