Today I had a situation where, in a private department chat, some colleagues complained that some emails are not being delivered and a colleague, whose team is responsible for them, said that he does not have time to check what's wrong.

Knowing him quite well (working with him for more than three years) I said that if he would spend less time on social media during work time, he would be able to look at it.

This triggered him and he started arguing strongly.

What would have been a better way to tell him to spend less time on non work related stuff?

Everyone in department knows that he does so, I simply was the first one to say it out loud. I'm not his manager nor team leader, just fed up with such fake statements.

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    It sounds to me like his work is not getting done in an appropriate amount of time. This is probably an issue that should be taken up with his manager. Commented Oct 17, 2017 at 18:10
  • @FrustratedWithFormsDesigner if the OP's job is to manage this coworker (which is not) then you are right. However, it is not his job to see if other are doing theirs. Only if it affects the OP performance it would be worth considering to take it to management.
    – DarkCygnus
    Commented Oct 17, 2017 at 18:22
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    @GrayCygnus: It sounded to me like it was affecting the OP's team, since complaints about emails not being sent were reaching the OP. I think if affects the OP's team negatively and reflects negatively on the team then it is worth bringing up with management. Though, I wasn't there, just going by what was described here. ;) Commented Oct 17, 2017 at 18:27
  • @FrustratedWithFormsDesigner yes, if that is the case it could be worth bringing it up :), though I am not sure if the OP wants to take the lead on that, as his coworker will probably not like that situation. If it is affecting a team then maybe the team should address the problem, and not depend on the OP to fix it for them.
    – DarkCygnus
    Commented Oct 17, 2017 at 18:33
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    I really don't want to take the lead on it nor I have right experience, position and knowledge to do so. There are certain people that can resolve these kind of issues, I simply should have not been that loud. Although this worked, but there are some side effects now. Commented Oct 17, 2017 at 18:41

2 Answers 2


What would have been a better way to tell him to spend less time on non work related stuff?

A better way would have been discussing this privately with him, not saying it out loud in front of others. Probably the reason why it turned to a uncomfortable situation.

Although he should not be doing non-work things during work time and you are right on saying so, it would be better to discuss privately, as it is something that could compromise him if it goes too public.

As you say, you are just his coworker, so technically it is not your job to see that he is doing his job.

However, if this is something that is somehow affecting your work then you could consider escalating it to your manager, if he does not respond when you politely talk to him in person, but try to do it as your last resort and not just because you are "fed up" by his comments (you don't want Work Karma to come bite you some day).

  • Most likely yes. What if it would end up exactly the same way in private chat too. Not saying that it would but it would be okay to know how to react to it. Try to calm him down? Ignore? Commented Oct 17, 2017 at 18:16
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    People usually respond better when talking one on one, even more if you put it in a polite and constructive way. I am sure that if you explain to him that you are saying this for his own good and company reputation he will understand and take it easy. If he takes it wrongly again, then there is few things you can do to change him. You are in a way doing him good by making him notice that (as he could get in problems for that). As I said, only if this is affecting your job you should consider bringing it to your boss.
    – DarkCygnus
    Commented Oct 17, 2017 at 18:18
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    This has affected my work experience in the past where I ended up with a conflict. I am way too straightforward and I like when people are straightforward with me. But my team leader has asked to be politically correct and I insist not to be so because I value honesty regardless how bad it can sound. Commented Oct 17, 2017 at 18:22
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    Honestly, I think that you are trying to do managerial work when you are not his manager or boss, even if you mean it with good intentions for him. Although you are straightforward (which is good in some places) being to straight forward may not be advisable always, as some situations require more tact than others. Being aware of this can spare you future inconveniences of this type. Hope my answer helped you :)
    – DarkCygnus
    Commented Oct 17, 2017 at 18:25
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    @EvaldasBuinauskas remember that there is a difference between being honest and being rude. Context is everything.
    – Erik
    Commented Oct 18, 2017 at 6:40

How he spends his time and how much work he gets done should not matter to you - that's an issue between him and his manager.

If he claims to be unable to help with something it's his job to help with, or if he takes excessively long to get back to you on high-priority or blocking issues, you can first confront him about that, noting that it's high priority or asking if he is the right person to be asking about that or who would be, after which you should raise the issue with your manager.

Do not bring up how he spends his time to him, your manager, or anyone else. If there's a problem with a coworker, it should be phrased in terms of how it's interfering with you and your ability to do your job, you should not speculate about possible causes of the problem.

  • @EvaldasBuinauskas as a side comment, I suggest you wait at least a day before accepting answers on your questions, so you can poll several different opinions before deciding which one is better. :)
    – DarkCygnus
    Commented Oct 17, 2017 at 21:04
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    @GrayCygnus isn't it okay to re-accept if a better answer comes? It could be few days later or months later and something brilliant comes in Commented Oct 18, 2017 at 4:06
  • Well, maybe you can, but users tend to stop answering if they see an accepted answer already (one may think that it is not worth the shot anymore), as compared to waiting some time to get more answers that in turn give you a better idea of your possible solution. Personally I wasn't aware of the re-accept thing, I thought it was for just some short time period that was possible. Maybe im wrong on that.
    – DarkCygnus
    Commented Oct 18, 2017 at 4:14
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    It is my business and my employer and fellow employees should prefer it that way. Bonuses and raises are often based on profit. Profits go down when people are on the payroll who don't pull their weight. It's bad for morale. It means there's a manager not doing her job. Saying nothing produced this problem in the first place.
    – user8365
    Commented Oct 18, 2017 at 18:39

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