How to deal with difficult co-workers?
March 1, 2014 8:32 AM   Subscribe

In December I started working for a mill that manufactures flour, and although most employees there are excellent and fun to work with, I am discovering that many of my immediate co-workers appear to sabotage others for their own benefit.

I work as a truck driver (one of four), and I drive the mill’s fleet of trucks and trailers, either to deliver bulk flour in pneumatic trailers or to haul wheat shorts in custom-built grain trailers.

Among the drivers (my immediate co-workers) there doesn’t seem to be much respect or honesty with issues and duties. In fact, I would describe it as outright lying and attempting to sabotage each other’s jobs, such as blaming the another driver for any damage or mishaps, withholding paperwork, etc.

One driver blamed me for leaving a compartment on a trailer open and driving home with it open, thereby causing snow to accumulate inside the trailer and freeze it shut. However, I wasn’t the last to drive that truck or trailer, he was, which he eventually had to admit to.

On the weekend my supervisor forgot to have the paperwork ready on Friday for the driver that was to take a load of bulk flour out, but instead of admitting to this mistake and correcting it, decided to schedule me to take that load and was going to blame it on ‘driver error’. Unfortunately for him I was snowed in and wasn’t able to make it to the mill, so he had to take the load and admit to his mistake.

On Thursday night my supervisor was to take a load of bulk flour out and plugged the trailer’s pipes. Instead of correcting that mistake Friday morning, he left it in the yard all night for someone else, i.e., me, to deal with, and decided to take the whole day off when he scheduled himself to work that day. Even the upper management was annoyed with this, and more than one person said the reason he didn’t come in was because he didn’t want to have to admit he screwed up. It took me almost 13 hours in -50˚C weather to unplug the trailer and clean his mess. Now he wants me to sacrifice my only day off in like a week and a half to do what I was scheduled to do yesterday but couldn’t because he wasn’t there and I had to finish what he didn’t do on Thursday.

Working where I am right now is really my first time being employed full-time, and I am finding all this dishonesty, blaming others, and unfair treatment frustrating to deal with. How can I cope with this?
posted by 8LeggedFriend to Work & Money (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You've complained about this job in the past and received advice to keep your head down, earn a lot of money, and stay as long as you can. I think that applies here, too. Make your life outside of work positive and fulfilling, and you won't care as much what you do at work. Focus on the great things this job can bring you.

You could also try to find a similar job at a different company, or try a different career altogether, but you may find that there are drawbacks to every job, and that most of them do not involve such significant remuneration.
posted by chaiminda at 8:38 AM on March 1, 2014 [7 favorites]

You can't. It's a toxic work environment. It was before you got there, and it will be after you leave. Expend your energy on finding a new job.
posted by moammargaret at 8:40 AM on March 1, 2014 [6 favorites]

Part of this is that you're new, and probably an easy person to blame stuff on. Thus far, none of the shit thrown at you has stuck. Cleaning up someone else's mess is a pain, and unfair, but if you're getting paid for it, you might as well do it--will you get overtime? If not, and it's really your first day off in 10 days, you should. Don't quit without having another job. I know this sucks, but you need the experience, you want the money, and you can handle the bad stuff thrown your way.
posted by Ideefixe at 8:44 AM on March 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

From an emotional perspective:
You've said before that you've taken this job to pay for future schooling. Do you have any definite time limit as to when you'll end the job and go to school?

If you do, then counting down the days to when you quit might be one way to deal with it.
Also, you might want to consider trying to look for a different job in the medium-term...

From an ethics reporting perspective:
Is it possible for you to document these violations and report them to upper management?
Upper management's response (or non-response) may determine your next step.
posted by Tsukushi at 8:47 AM on March 1, 2014 [3 favorites]

Do the work you're paid to do. Don't make waves. Let it go.

When you're blamed for something and it wasn't your fault, you can either suck it up (because that's how this particular culture operates) or you can document whenever it happens and go to upper management.

Unless you're talking about mistakes that are costing the company a lot of money or creating deadly situations, you will find that upper management does not care.

Do the work you're paid to do. Create your long term plan and remind yourself that this job is a step in the process to better things.

I am not saying this doesn't suck. It does. But it's called having a job, unfortunately.
posted by kinetic at 8:56 AM on March 1, 2014 [3 favorites]

Don't let them get to you. Think of it as training for future office politics - because petty-minded, insecure, immature adults exist in every profession.

Keep your options open, and keep looking for another job. And remember-

The only constant in life is change. -Heraclitus
posted by invisible ink at 11:32 AM on March 1, 2014 [2 favorites]

You could try to come up with a checklist of the things people most commonly screw up and develop your own, personal process for documenting things proactively.

For example, if you have an iPhone, you could take a quick video around the interior and exterior of the truck when you get it and when you pass it on to the next person, and send an email saying, "I took care of doing a, b, c, d, etc and am passing the truck along in good condition" at the end. Check for paperwork as soon as you can, and acknowledge to people via email when they have handled things well on their end before passing things along to you.

This is designed to put you on people's radar as someone who is detail-oriented and not a plausible person to pin a fuck-up on. If someone knows you will be getting the truck after them, you WANT them thinking, "Shit, I'd better pay close attention to the condition I leave this in because the next guy is going to document every Frito he finds on the passenger seat."
posted by alphanerd at 2:00 PM on March 1, 2014 [9 favorites]

How can I cope with this? It will get better as you show yourself to be reliable and not willing to take crap. Keep it that way. Stop trying to change people; it's not working, and it's making you miserable. You get paid to show up and do a job so do that. Other people are being jerks. That happens all the time. How you feel about it is not affecting them - it's affecting you. Learn some meditations to help you let go of it when you leave work. Try to establish friendly working relationships. Try to see what other people do well. You may be seeing only the screwups, which will not make you popular, and may be missing what others do well.
posted by theora55 at 8:32 PM on March 1, 2014

There are a couple good books by Albert Rozen that have helped me. One is called Neandrathals At Work and the other is called Emotional Vampires.
posted by melangell at 6:49 AM on March 2, 2014

« Older Writing for computer games?   |   Should I tag along for a trip to Long Beach? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.