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I've been working at a firm for about 7 years. The work load has been steadily increasing in recent times.

Just recently, I got posted to work with another co-worker. I have known this person for a while but haven't actually worked with him. This person is senior to me. As per my understanding, we are supposed to work on the new project together. But he doesn't do anything. Most of the time during the day, his PC stays locked or he'll be watching some news headlines or movie reviews!

I do all the work. He asks me to send all the mails. I talk to the clients. I'm working 12-13 hours per day. This is affecting my personal life. The pay and the place where I stay is good.

There are 3 other juniors who are working on this project too, and they know more about it than he does! This concerns me. I have tried indirect confrontation on why he doesn't work, but his justification is that he checks up on the juniors, clarifies their doubts, so he is actually doing his part. I disagree. I am a little hesitant for a direct confrontation since he is my senior; however, we report to the same boss.

I also found out from other sources that many people who were under him have left because of this behavior.

I am planning to talk about this with the boss. Is this a good idea? If so, what is the right approach?

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It's obvious what you have to do next: you set up a confidential appointment with your boss, and you tell your boss that your senior is not carrying his weight, and that the failure of the senior to carry his weight is impacting the morale of your subordinates let alone your own and destroying your work-life balance. I sense a fair amount of fear of approaching the boss in your post, and it is your fear that makes a simple, direct approach to the boss appear to be much more complex than it really is. –  Vietnhi Phuvan Apr 20 at 19:22
    
Could you go into a few more details of what you believe the Sr. should be doing that he isn't? Depending on the type of company and customer, you might be surprised with how much "useless" work a team lead has to do. In my industry, once a team gets beyond about 3-4 sw developers, there really isn't time for the lead to develop much software and successfully be the team lead. I've seen many who have tried (including me) and I've never seen anyone succeed. All that happens is the person ends up sucking at both jobs. –  Dunk Apr 22 at 19:06
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4 Answers 4

I m working 12-13hrs per day.

Right now, you are not part of the solution. You are part of the problem. Because you are covering him. As long as you put in longer shifts to make up for his failures, you help him and you hinder your management to detect his failures. Let him fail.

Put in normal hours. Do not drop the pencil at 8 sharp, but don't do somebody elses job after hours. It's your job to be constructive and communicative. If you see that you cannot make deadlines, inform your boss as early as possible and provide alternative solutions. For example, if you cannot make the deadline next week within normal working hours or acceptable overtime, tell your boss that you cannot make it and provide an estimate a) when it can be done instead if you work on it alone, b) how many more people you would need to get it done in time and c) what parts of the task you'd have to drop if you had to produce a result alone come next week. That way you are communicating clearly, you are already providing alternatives and you leave it to your boss which alternative he picks. He may even have another option in mind.

Make sure you do this in writing (perhaps email) so the senior cannot blame the failure on the team later.

If your team only pulls the weight of 3 members although it's 4 strong, it's up to your boss to decide what he wants to do about it. But he can decide that on facts he sees himself. If you talk to him about it, there are no facts. Just your opinion versus the seniors opinion. And the boss made him senior because he values his opinion more, so that will lead nowhere.

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I think this could be part of the solution, but I think it is not addressing the most important part: Your job is to complete your project successfully on-time despite any challenges. Just allowing the project to fall behind because you have decided you don't want to work so hard is not the correct solution. It is likely to end up hurting you as much if not more than this other person. –  ReallyTiredOfThisGame Apr 21 at 15:34
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@Chad - his job is to work hard, but not to the point that it is unsustainable. How will it help the project if he burns out or quits? 12-13 hours a day is going to hurt him and the project more than pulling back to 8-9. The challenges need to be reasonable. –  thursdaysgeek Apr 21 at 16:39
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@thursdaysgeek - Like I said in my comment I think that it is probably part of the answer to this... but it is not the whole answer. This answer is incomplete, and if it is the only step taken it will likely be damaging to the OP's career probably more so than the Senior who is not likely to be going anywhere anyway. My problem with the answer is not the content that is here but the other steps that are missing from the answer. –  ReallyTiredOfThisGame Apr 21 at 16:41
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I'm with @Chad on this one. I think everyone is evaluating this answer on how they prefer the situation. Don't be shocked if those in charge prefer it this way. If you think this is the first time this has ever happened, read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. –  JeffO Apr 21 at 16:53
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@Chad, where in my post was I suggesting that the Op would not want to work? All I'm saying is that he should do his job as his employer would expect him to (that does not include 5 hours overtime per day) and let his boss worry about what that means for the project. If his boss thinks the senior should work harder, ok. If he thinks they need another resource and hires someone, ok. If his boss thinks postponing the deadline is fine, ok. But it's not ok to do 5 hours overtime daily. That's slavery, not a good working environment. –  nvoigt Apr 21 at 17:02
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Confronting this person's lack of work is not your main priority (We'll get to that.).

Establish what your boss's expectations are of you. What are your responsibilities and Who sets your workload. Roughly how many hours are you expected to work and what are the expectations. What are the consequences of missing deadlines. What do you do when there is an inconsistency (e.g. The sr. tries to assign you work that doesn't fit your understanding of your boss's expectations.). Everyone should do this at the beginning of every job and/or when you get a new boss.

Second, based on the expectations, ask your boss how you're doing. Are you meeting expectations? Are there things you're not doing that you should. Confirm any tasks that you've been doing that you shouldn't. This surprises many people. I've worked at places where my direct supervisor instructed me not to take on requests of anyone else. Everything went through my supervisor (He did not micromanage every project so I had approval to work out task details but keep them in scope.).

There is a possibility that the sr. is doing exactly as instructed and is allowed to dump everything on you. Maybe it is assumed that you only accept the task if you have nothing else to do. If you want to complain that he isn't doing anything, that's your choice. Maybe the boss's aren't aware of it. Be prepared for negative consequences.

I recommend you confirm your boss's expectations and do not let anyone give you tasks that are not your responsibility.

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Depending on how you present this, I could see this going well or quite badly. Consider the question of how can you vouch that when the PC is locked he isn't at meetings with other clients? How are you to know that this project is his sole responsibility in the company? Do you know whether or not you are being groomed to step into a bigger role down the road?

In a sense, I can see where you have frustration though I'd argue be careful as chances are your boss may have a different perspective here. Are you out to tell your boss, "Hey, Bob isn't pulling his weight! Fix this, now!"? If so, that would likely not go over so great while at the same time, if you are too subtle your boss may not even understand your problem here.

There are 3 other juniors who are working on this project too and they know more about it than he does ! This concerns me. I have tried indirect confrontation on why he doesn't work, but his justification is that he checks up on the juniors, clarifies their doubts, so he is actually doing his part. I disagree. But I am a little hesitant for a direct confrontation since he is my senior, however, we report to the same boss.

While you disagree, there is something to be said for how well do you know the whole story here. Could there be more here than what you've described here? Could he have some political alliances that may make any conflict not worth doing? After all, others under this person have left so there is the potential that he knows how to handle office politics but not necessarily get a lot of work done.

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A possible angle to present this is workload."I'm tired, working too hard, can we discuss formally redistributing duties amongst the team?" –  yochannah Apr 20 at 16:45
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Perhaps, before you talk to the boss you should try "pushing back", not angrily or with accusations, but firmly and using logic. When he asks you to do his work you could say, in a regretful way, "I'm sorry...I just don't have time. I'm too busy doing my work."

This will probably not work, as he is so used to getting you and the other coworkers to pull his load for him. But it is a good way to set the stage for a more real solution to the problem.

I would recommend that instead of going to the boss and complaining about the coworker, you ask for a sit-down meeting with the entire team to discuss distribution of workload. Tell him that you are just being overwhelmed with all the tasks that you are handling, and that you perceive your coworkers as having the same problem. You could suggest that perhaps if you sat down to define all the tasks that need to be taken care of, you could find a way to help everyone work more efficiently. Talk about the efficiency of consolidation of tasks.

Be sure that your boss sits in on the meeting. You might get together with your other coworkers (excluding the problem worker) and suggesting this idea, so that you can tell your boss that you tried to solve the problem among yourselves but you need his input and experience to help you get organized.

If you can manage to get this meeting together, I foresee several possible outcomes. One is that tasks will get more fairly distributed and you will all have a legitimate and well-defined reason to refuse to carry the slacker. The other is that the boss will see first-hand how the slacker is not contributing his fair share and he will address the problem directly without you being involved. Another possible ending is that the boss knows this guy is a slacker and he is allowing it to happen, for whatever reason. If this last is the case you will need to decide whether you want to continue to work in this situation.

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