geeezus please do your job!
March 29, 2011 7:23 AM   Subscribe

How do I address my manager about the obvious not work related tasks she doing all day? All of us see it and it's completely disrespectful and frustrating.

We all pull our weight, with the exception of her. Please help us find a positive way to talk to her without her feeling attacked. I would really like to avoid tears.

I would also like to add, that she considers us to be her friends. She doesn't have any outside of work and often times treats the workplace as a social gathering.

We work in a bakery and instead of her actually baking, she'll take 2 hours to make herself and her husband lunch. Other tasks include testing recipes for private classes she teaches?! Just yesterday she made mayo for the following day's sandwich? I couldn't believe the outright disregard of her assigned duties. At the end of her shift my co-worker and I noticed all her duties of that day which wasn't much was then shift onto tomorrows list. Lastly I would like to add that if this was a random occurrence I wouldn't mind the slack, but this is an everyday occurrence and it's just not cool, especially because we do way more and get paid less!!!!!
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (33 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Does this affect your work? If not, leave it alone. If it does, go to the owners and talk to them.
posted by TheBones at 7:27 AM on March 29, 2011

Is she an owner / the owner too?
posted by Perplexity at 7:27 AM on March 29, 2011

Is she the owner? If she is, you're SOL. If she's not, talk to the owner.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:27 AM on March 29, 2011

Unless you have some kind of very flat organizational structure you can't as pretty well be definition your manager's actions aren't judge able by you. If you do have a flat organizational structure where manager doesn't mean much more than "gets trusted with the keys" then you should be able to just tell her she isn't pulling her weight and if she doesn't pick it up go to the actual manager. Though if it is as obvious as you've presented they probably already know.
posted by Mitheral at 7:31 AM on March 29, 2011

Tell your manager the truth and it will set you free. Do you want to be free?

The way to deal with this is to take on the jobs that your manager is neglecting, take on even more of her job than that, get promoted for it, and then deal with it on equal footing.
posted by bfranklin at 7:32 AM on March 29, 2011 [2 favorites]

If she's the owner and you aren't able to complete your work because of her slacking, tell her you don't fee like you are able to finish your work and hiring someone else would really help.
posted by TheBones at 7:34 AM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

You can't win here. If you go to someone over her head (if such a person exists) then she'll see it as a violation of your friendship that you didn't come to her first. If she's the highest authority, then you're just screwed because she'll still feel personally attacked, and with her back in the corner she'll surely dig in her heels. Hell, even if she capitulates and admits she has a problem, she's still going to be more watchful around you from now on, which may make things more toxic.

I vote for ignoring it, or trying to pick up some of the slack as bfranklin recommends, or else looking for a new job.
posted by hermitosis at 7:35 AM on March 29, 2011

This isn't universally applicable, but I've learned an important lesson from situations like this: the more I focus on doing my own job exceptionally well, and devote less time to obsessing over how others do their jobs, the happier I become.
posted by itstheclamsname at 7:42 AM on March 29, 2011 [48 favorites]

Your manager's performance of her duties is the owners' problem, not yours. However, if you are being overworked (for any reason) you're free to ask for a raise. If your manager refuses you a raise, you're free to ask the owners. If you're refused a raise by the owners, then, and only then, could it make sense to talk about what your manager does or doesn't do with her time.
posted by MattD at 7:48 AM on March 29, 2011

She is not the owner. We have been ignoring the lack of work for months. There are things that must be baked and she divides up the work amongst all of us. She will assign each of 10 more items and give herself 4, and usually not complete all of it. I honestly feel we could run the bakery without her.
posted by myyellowbird at 8:06 AM on March 29, 2011

Is the issue that her slacking is making your work more difficult?

Or is it just that she works less than you do but gets paid more, and that's annoying and frustrating?

If it's the first thing, then I'm going to go against the grain and say you can talk to her about it, but only informally and indirectly. She's supposed to do task X, you need to do task Y which depends on task X, and instead she's screwing around making mayonnaise or something, you can say something like "hey, I see on the duty list you were going to do X, when do you think you'll have that done so I can start on Y?" You'll be tempted to add a meaningful glance at the mayonnaise. Don't do that, just play it straight, as though of course she would have completed her work already. "Hey, a customer is asking for some of the [things you were supposed to bake this morning], where did you put them? Oh, you haven't made them yet? Huh. Okay, let me know when they're ready?" Or if you're all rushing to get something done as a group and she's off doing her own thing you can interrupt her and ask her to help you -- but frame it as you asking her for her managerial help, not you telling her off for not pulling her share of the load. Don't ever use the words 'disrespectful' or 'frustrating', confrontation isn't going to help: just try to distract her and interrupt her non-work-related tasks by putting work-related tasks in front of her.

If it's the second thing, then leave it alone, do your job, and accept the fact that some people get paid more to do less and that's just the way it is.
posted by ook at 8:08 AM on March 29, 2011 [5 favorites]

As long as someone does their job, I could careless if they take "downtime" to do other tasks. Like hey I finished all my baking now I have time to make some mayo! Not oh I made lunch all day I guess i have no time to do my job.
posted by myyellowbird at 8:11 AM on March 29, 2011 [2 favorites]

Does she do more managerial tasks that you are not responsible for - inventories, invoices, dealing with vendors, budgets, etc? She may consider the 'work' she does with you guys somewhat of a help but not by any means required.
posted by amicamentis at 8:19 AM on March 29, 2011

You sound really resentful, which is a hard place to be in. But you are also in a no-win situation. Unless there is an owner who would want to know this so that she could be disciplined or fired, and whom you have a very good reason to think could not possibly already know about it, there's nothing to be gained from going over her head. As for confronting her, it is unlikely she'll say, "Oh, oops, you're right, I'd better get cracking," and much more likely that she will, deliberately or otherwise, start to make your work environment more unpleasant than it already is.

Also, if it was important to you to be anonymous, you should stop commenting in the thread and ask a mod to anonymize the comments you've already made.
posted by not that girl at 8:20 AM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

No she doesn't do any managerial tasks. One of us takes care of the ordering.
posted by myyellowbird at 8:22 AM on March 29, 2011

No need to go anonymous, she has no idea what metafilter is.
posted by myyellowbird at 8:25 AM on March 29, 2011

Yeah, you sound irritated with the principle and the non-morale involved here. Understandable, but still: there's really no position for you to occupy between blowing this up (and as you say you want to avoid that) and doing your work, for which you're being paid, which pretty much excludes your worrying about your manager's sandwiches and mayo.
posted by Namlit at 8:27 AM on March 29, 2011

She will assign each of 10 more items

Do you have time to do the assigned items? Are you paid as well as you'd expect to do the assigned items? If so, no problem there.

and give herself 4, and usually not complete all of it.

What happens when she doesn't complete the items she assigned herself? Do you have to finish her work? If so, this is a bit underhanded, but perhaps you could stretch out the tasks you're assigned in the first place, so you don't have time to pick up the items she originally assigned herself ("Sorry, I don't have time to do Y4 for you, I'm still working on X9")—then let her take the fall if they're not completed on time. Obviously, this works best if you can get all your coworkers do it, not so much if you're the only one.

I honestly feel we could run the bakery without her.

Maybe so, but that's the owner's decision to make.


Also, if it was important to you to be anonymous, you should stop commenting in the thread and ask a mod to anonymize the comments you've already made.

Check myyellowbird's profile. Unless they've used the same handle elsewhere on the internet, the comments are de facto anonymous.

posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:35 AM on March 29, 2011

No need to go anonymous, she has no idea what metafilter is.

And yet... this wouldn't by any chance be the bakery that comes up as the first Google result for your username (with spaces added), would it?
posted by staggernation at 8:42 AM on March 29, 2011 [3 favorites]

We all pull our weight, with the exception of her.

What does that have to with the bottom line? Is something not getting done? Is the bakery somehow being negatively affected?

Part of being a manager is delegating tasks, which she seems to be doing. If you have a problem with her, you need to talk in terms of business, not that you're annoyed and pissed off. You need to be able to point to repeated instances where her behavior has affected the business in a negative way and these need to be verifiable, possibly by the owner or another worker.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:48 AM on March 29, 2011

no that's my website
posted by myyellowbird at 8:48 AM on March 29, 2011

The bakery is being affected negatively by her lack of work. Yes she does delegate work when she is there, but often times she'll ask us what needs to be accomplished. On the weekends when she is off, myself and another co-worker divide up the work equally. Lastly if we do finish our work we will move onto her list or check inventory and bake what's needed and not assigned by her.
posted by myyellowbird at 8:55 AM on March 29, 2011

Nobody says that the manager has to do the same amount of work that everyone else has to do. The fact that you an a coworker divide it up equally when she's not around means nothing.
posted by theichibun at 8:57 AM on March 29, 2011

The bakery is being affected negatively by her lack of work.

You need to be able to define and articulate that to the owner in a business manner.

"Hey owner, manager person is delegating more than we can handle, so it forces us to open late or lower our quality standards and customers have been noticing. What should we do?"

Even something like "Hey, the extra work she's piling on us is making me come in earlier and stay later, driving up our hourly labor costs."
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:00 AM on March 29, 2011

Lastly if we do finish our work we will move onto her list or check inventory and bake what's needed and not assigned by her.

Why do you do this? If you keep saving her bacon, you're training her to continue slacking.
posted by jon1270 at 9:04 AM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

People who are at work should be working, unless they are on break or unless there is absolutely nothing to do. She is using work time to do personal tasks and therefore wasting the company's time and money while dumping more work unfairly on the rest of you.

I would ask her about it directly before going over her head. The way I would frame it would probably be in terms of how when the team sees her spending so much time at work doing personal tasks, it hurts the team's morale because she is not pulling her weight. I would also mention how much more quickly you could get X tasks done if she spent more time working on what she has delegated to herself, thus saving the company money.
posted by Lobster Garden at 9:07 AM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Don't go to her. That can't possibly work out well. Just stop covering for her. Talk to the owners if you have to. But don't have an "intervention"; it will not work to your favor.
posted by spaltavian at 9:32 AM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Playing dumb might help.
Oh, hey, is that the cream filling for [Task 3], can you put it (here) when you're done? What, that's mayo? (blank look) Okay. Is mayo [Task2]? Oh, for lunch... I thought we had to get [Task3] done today, or do we have till tomorrow for that? Huh.

One possible area to push is not actually her time, but her use of equipment - When do you think you'll have the mixer and bowl clean so that I can [Task 2]? Those aren't the eggs I was supposed to [Task 3] with, are they?
posted by aimedwander at 10:26 AM on March 29, 2011 [2 favorites]

It's hard to tell how to answer this one. Very often, the manager's job is to make sure X, Y, and Z are getting done. It's important to understand the distinction that and actually doing X, Y, and Z yourself. For example, when I started my current--management--job, I was told in no uncertain terms by my employers that my predecessor had spent way too much of her time doing her staff's job instead of her own.
Now, your bakery sounds like a much less formal workplace, so that may not apply as much or at all. But unless it's very informal, you--as someone who is not the manager or owner--may not really be in a position to know what the manager's duties really are or are not.

That said, to take at face value what you actually asked, and assume that this woman does in fact shirk nearly all of her duties and pile them on you and your peers under the not-watchful eye of management, there's not a ton you can do that won't very likely have negative consequences for you.
For whatever reason, the ownership of your workplace has designated this person Manager. Maybe they've worked with her before, maybe they know her socially; I don't know. But they picked her. If they're not around enough to assess whether she's doing her job, they're just as big a part of the problem as she is.
If you take it upon yourself to inform them of this, the most likely outcome will be that they decided you're a tattletale and a difficult employee. I've had a couple of these over the years. They all think they're helpful, but they really sow discord and bad morale. Do not be one of these people. If you alert them: do it once, do it seriously, do not be snide, do not follow up with them to see what they're doing about it, and do not presume to tell them what the solution is; it will be too easy to blow you off as a complainer otherwise. (As an aside, I suppose if all of the employees who are supervised by this manager were to get together and notify ownership as a united front, that might help, though one person is almost certainly going to do most of the talking and then that person is right back to flirting with the tattletale role. In either case, the same don'ts apply.)
Honestly, though it sounds to me like your best bet might just be to focus on excelling at your work until you can find another job. Maybe as the manager in a different bakery.
Good luck!
posted by willpie at 11:37 AM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

I wonder whether you could avoid the drawbacks of addressing the specific problem by addressing a more general one. Instead of focusing on ways to get the manager in particular do her tasks, could you come up with some kind of system that makes task-tracking in general more visible to all of you and to the owners? For example, you could suggest a way to color-code and track what tasks are initially assigned to whom, what those tasks' statuses are, who ultimately completes the tasks, and when they're completed, for example. If done in the spirit of a suggestion for overall business efficiency and effectiveness, it might be hard to turn down, while also not coming off as too personally targeted.
posted by daisyace at 1:23 PM on March 29, 2011

Keep a log and send it anonymously to the owner.

It needs to be as objective as possible and make it clear that it is an ongoing issue.

Don't discuss this letter; don't make it obvious that it's from you because you're the only one complaining about her. Stay subtle.
posted by the young rope-rider at 1:40 PM on March 29, 2011

I think you're fooling yourself if you think you can have a constructive conversation about this with her. You can either go to the owner and accept the consequences of that, or suck it up and get on with your work.

I'm in the same situation and I'm trying to find a way out, but until then I'm stuck with it.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 3:03 PM on March 29, 2011

I think if you consider going to the owner, you'll need to get all the other employees to join you.
posted by elpea at 4:29 PM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

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