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I struggle with what to say to one of my staff who thinks they work harder than their colleagues.  Yes they are one of my top performers, and yes they do tend to take on more and I appreciate it.  At the same time they are constantly commenting to me about other staff members and how they work so much harder and how unfair this is to them.

Have you experienced this and what do you say in these situations?

pucciot's picture

Yep - I've had one of these folks. You can use the MT Feedback Model - only if you are already doing FeedBack successfully. -- "Can I give you some feedback ? - When you complain that you work hard and other people don't, It may be perceived as you trying to make yourself look good at other people's expense. That tears down the team. Could you please improve that in the future ? " -- OR I have had to repeat this mantra a few times until they figured out that their complaint doesn't go very far with me and falls quite flat at my feet. It goes something like this... If the others are managed by you : "Well, Tom [insert direct's name here], I can see why you might feel that way. You work very hard. Maybe they do things that you don't see or know about. I am their supervisor and I appraise their performance. Please leave it to me and that person to sort out. I also supervise and appraise your work. I appreciate the hard work that you do and it will be reflected in your annual appraisal." If the other people are managed by other managers... "Well, Tom [insert direct's name here], I can see why you might feel that way. And I'm not that person's manager. Maybe they do things that you and I don't see or know about. And in any case, they are supervised and appraised by Mr. Rightdoor [insert name of the other manager]. Let's leave it to them to sort out. I supervise and appraise you. I appreciate the hard work that you do and it will be reflected in your annual appraisal." --- If the complaints continue several times ... "Well, Tom [insert direct's name here], I've already suggested that we leave that person's performance between that person and his/her supervisor. And your performance is between you and me. If other people hear you complaining about it too much, it might affect your relationships and goodwill with the other employees. And I will consider that "poor" performance between you and your relationships with co-workers. Let's not let that happen." I have started the habit of very clearly telling one of my directs, that has difficulty with the relationship performance, exactly what I consider "poor" performance. Those kinds of complaints are on that list. But, first try the two examples a few times. Yes, you will have to repeat them a few times before this person realizes that you have practiced a "canned" response to their complaints. Once they realize that they get the same flat water from the well, they will stop going to the well. They will stop the fruitless stimulus and response pattern they were hoping for. Good Luck. TJPuccio

pucciot's picture

Yep - I've had one of these folks.

You can use the MT Feedback Model - only if you are already doing FeedBack successfully.

-- "Can I give you some feedback ? - When you complain that you work hard and other people don't, It may be perceived as you trying to make yourself look good at other people's expense. That tears down the team. Could you please improve that in the future ? "

-- OR

I have had to repeat this mantra a few times until they figured out that their complaint doesn't go very far with me and falls quite flat at my feet. It goes something like this...

If the others are managed by you :

"Well, Tom [insert direct's name here], I can see why you might feel that way. You work very hard. Maybe they do things that you don't see or know about. I am their supervisor and I appraise their performance. Please leave it to me and that person to sort out. I also supervise and appraise your work. I appreciate the hard work that you do and it will be reflected in your annual appraisal."

If the other people are managed by other managers... :

"Well, Tom [insert direct's name here], I can see why you might feel that way. And I'm not that person's manager. Maybe they do things that you and I don't see or know about. And in any case, they are supervised and appraised by Mr. Rightdoor [insert name of the other manager]. Let's leave it to them to sort out. I supervise and appraise you. I appreciate the hard work that you do and it will be reflected in your annual appraisal."

 

--- If the complaints continue several times ...

"Well, Tom [insert direct's name here], I've already suggested that we leave that person's performance between that person and his/her supervisor. And your performance is between you and me. If other people hear you complaining about it too much, it might affect your relationships and goodwill with the other employees. And I will consider that "poor" performance between you and your relationships with co-workers. Let's not let that happen."

I have started the habit of very clearly telling one of my directs, that has difficulty with the relationship performance, exactly what I consider "poor" performance.

Those kinds of complaints are on that list. But, first try the two examples a few times.

Yes, you will have to repeat them a few times before this person realizes that you have practiced a "canned" response to their complaints. Once they realize that they get the same flat water from the well, they will stop going to the well. They will stop the fruitless stimulus and response pattern they were hoping for.

Good Luck.

TJPuccio

pucciot's picture

In case I wasn't clear with my previous response :

For the High "C's"  I have made a bulleted list....

You may wish to try one of two responses :

A - the MT Model of Feedback - if you are already successfully practicing it.

OR

B - This formula

1 - Acknowledge their feeling

2 - Express doubt that they see the whole picture  - just doubt - do _not_  justify other people's performance or try to give examples.

3 - Clearly state who is responsible for the appraisal of other people's performance (the other person and their supervisor)

4 - Reinforce who is responsible for the appraisal this direct's performance (this direct and you)  

5 - Assure this direct that you see and recognize their work and they will get credit for it.

Finally, if  repeating steps 1 -5 do not stop the complaints then add step 6

6 - Let the direct know that such continued complaints damage his relationships and are poor performance (on the heels of Step 5 they should realize that they will get credit for that, too)

TJPuccio 

 

edcrawfordlv's picture

Is it an unfair workload? Why is this staff member taking on more work than others? Is it because the others are dropping the ball? If this top performer is complaining about their work load versus others, they may start looking for a new job soon. Ed

Smacquarrie's picture

I'm not saying that this is the case here, you really need to have a good relationship with your direct to know this, but some people are not happy unless they have something to gripe about.
I agree with the earlier comment about using feedback to address the issue.
Talk to your employee and find out if they are truly unhappy about the situation or if the revel in the fact that they have more to do.
I was in a situation where others complained not about the workload but the fact that I was able to leave before the rest of them.
We had a daily quota to meet, which I did about 2-3 hours before the rest of them.
I would come in up to 3 hours before some of the team to work on side projects that I had, do my core work, and then leave at an earlier time because of this.
My manager basically told them that I had other duties I needed to perform and that it was best if did those earlier rather than later.

The complaints do need to be brought under control as they can easily get around and create an atmosphere of animosity among the team.
Talk to this individual and remind them that every employee is rated as an individual and as part of the team. These types of complaints drive down the teamwork aspect of their review.
Even the best superstar employee out there is useless if the rest of the team refuses to work or collaborate with them on a regular basis.

Just my 2 cents worth.
Mac

amac05's picture

Hi

I have just had some feedback from a tool we use in work, where my co workers answer questions anonymously. All data collated, it tells me 65% of co workers feel other co workers don't work hard enough. 

 

How can I deal with this in such a large group? My first thought is, does everyone actually know each persons responsibility? If no, then maybe they assume others aren't working.  

 

Any thoughts?

 

pucciot's picture

"How can I deal with this in such a large group?"

You can't.

Meaning that you can't deal with feelings, per se.

You can only deal with behaviors.

A - Always assume positive intent.

B - Even if the positive intent is not clear, act like there is.

C - Use FeedBack to let folks know that even if they feel this way that they should behave like it.  Monitoring and policing the work of others is not their responsibility unless they are that person's supervisor.  Unless the other employee does something grossly illegal or unethical.

D - Encourage them to follow rules A & B above.

 

Good Luck

TJPuccio

amac05's picture

Thanks for the reply, I will try this and see if I get any results!

williamelledgepe's picture

I like the conversation above - nothing to add exept a link to the Lake Wobegon Effect.  M&M have made reference to it a handful of times.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Wobegon#The_Lake_Wobegon_effect

"The characterization of the fictional location, where "all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average," has been used to describe a real and pervasive human tendency to overestimate one's achievements and capabilities in relation to others."