22

I would like to know how to deal with this situation.

Basically our manager had a clear schedule on who is working and not working over Christmas. I took my vacation accordingly as I was the prime person for the December month-end activities which is a regular part of our job on a monthly basis.

I completed what was necessary on the 23rd December before leaving on vacation for 3 days and so did my co-worker who was off for the next 4 days.

I was supposed to finish the month-end activities on the 27th December upon my return, but when I logged in I found my co-worker worked on the 24th, 25th, and 26th of December and finished all the work that was on my plate to finish on the 27th.

Now, I arrived early in the morning on the 27th, got online on time, and when I opened up the system I found all this!

I really don't know how to react to this! I feel upset and I am a little bit worried about my co-worker as well!

The reason why I feel upset is because we decided who was going to work on which tasks, I was not late on any of those, and there were absolutely no requirements to work on Christmas and the day after. I planned my work accordingly so that I could stay on the course to finish the month-end activities and now I got up on the 27th and saw that everything was done over the holidays. I was thinking that if they had said they were going to do this before, I could have planned my vacation accordingly but when the work was distributed they didn't raise this issue at all.

Also, I am worried about my co-worker as they were supposed to rest over the holidays but were still working and maybe they feel some sort of competition or something between the both us.

Could you please advise me how to tackle this issue as this is not the first time my co-worker has done this, working over holidays / weekends and doing my work?

  • If this is not the first time, have you tried talking to them? Did they say why they did it previously? – Stephan Branczyk Dec 27 '19 at 14:26
  • Could you elaborate a bit about your relationship with this person? Because you seem to assume ill intent where there isn’t any obvious indication of that. – Sebastiaan van den Broek Dec 28 '19 at 8:31
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    Did you check whether they did their own share of work also? Otherwise it might be that there was a mix-up in who was supposed to do what tasks. – jpa Dec 28 '19 at 13:47
  • Were you there (in this team, doing this month end process) this time last year? What did the co-worker do on that occasion, if so? – seventyeightist Dec 30 '19 at 19:08
  • Does the company benefit from them completing that work ahead of schedule? Is there a chance the manager has reassigned the work (failing to communicate this change)? What did your manager say when they became aware of your colleague working over the weekends last time it happened? – Igor G Dec 31 '19 at 0:55
28

I really don't know how to react to this! As I feel upset as well as have little bit worried about co-worker as well!

Don't overthink it, be happy that the work is done. Enjoy the rest of the holidays.

Could you please help me how to tackle this co-worker as this is not the first time, he has done this: working over holidays / weekends and take up my work?

In general, for other times (when/if it happens), ensure that:

  • The work division / assignment is formalized, and it is clear that the co-worker is overstepping to take up your job - you did not ask them to get it done.
  • Keep your manager informed that the work which was assigned to you to be done at a particular time, is already worked on by the colleague and you have no part in ensuring the correctness / applicability of the result / outcome.

Also, next time the planning meeting comes up, bring this topic up and mention that if they believe they have less on their plate, they can either look for more work to be assigned by the boss / manager, or talk to the boss of utilizing their free time effectively. Stepping into someone else's assignment actually messes up the plan, instead of making it better.

And, I am worried about her as she is supposed to rest over holidays but still working and may be he feels some sort of competitions or something between both us.

I'd say, until proven otherwise, assume good intentions. Maybe by doing your work, they're trying to be nice and making themselves useful. It's true that by doing this sort of overstepping they are actually creating problems instead of helping, but it may also be an honest mistake.

Talk to them, tell them that what they're doing is actually not helping. They may realize the mistake and never do it again!

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    I think this is a good answer except for the sentences of, bring this topic up and mention that if... and tell them that what they're doing is actually not helping... may give the impression that the OP is trying to directly control the workload of the coworker and may further the potential conflict that already seems to be brewing. Better to just talk to your boss about your own work, and if you have issues with a coworker doing some of it, tell your boss (not your coworker). Let you boss deliver the message, if appropriate, to the coworker. – dwizum Dec 27 '19 at 15:37
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    @dwizum actually I was assuming that in the planning meeting the boss would be involved, and phrase it in a way that appears as a problem resolution instead of complaining. I agree with your stand. – Sourav Ghosh Dec 27 '19 at 15:43
  • Thank you so much @SouravGhosh! I really appreciate your time for helping me out! – user2040021 Dec 27 '19 at 19:36
  • Great answer. My one change would be that I'm not sure that the first place of bringing up an issue like this would be in a group planning meeting. It may be easier to talk 1 on 1 with the coworker and 1 on 1 with the manager prior to bringing it up at a group meeting - that way the coworker has some foreknowledge and doesn't feel attacked in front of the boss. But that's a play-it-by-ear thing - different offices work different. – bethlakshmi Dec 27 '19 at 20:22
  • and you have no part in ensuring the correctness / applicability of the result / outcome. If it is feasible due to the nature of work (for example, programming) the OP should check the correctness of the result. Saying "since my coworker did it I will not check anything" might not sound great to the manager if the product is defective; the OP cannot just ignore his responsabilities. Specially if the OP has no other tasks to do during that time (if he has then it would be nice to find a balance between checking and doing productive work). – SJuan76 Dec 27 '19 at 23:06
6

It doesn't matter why they ended up working when they weren't supposed to. It isn't any of your business. Their plans could have fallen through, a vacation got cancelled, family changed plans, who knows? It doesn't matter. If its square with their manager it is a done deal.

I was supposed to finish month-end activities on 27th December, upon my return, but when I logged in I found my co-worked worked on 24th, 25th, 26th of December and finish all the work pretty much which was on my plate to finish on 27th.

Now, I came early morning on 27th, got online on time, and when I opened up system I found all these!

Well the work was planned when everyone believed that nobody would be there on those days. Those plans changed, so the plan needed to change. Suddenly 24 man hours got added to the sheet. They chose to do work that needed to be done rather than sitting around doing nothing for those 3 days. I don't see any issue here. It doesn't read to me like they were trying to do your work because of anything to do with you, but rather because they needed work to do. Pick up the next work item and move on.

Could you please help me how to tackle this issue as this is not the first time, he has done this, working over holidays / weekends and take up my work?

Talk to him in a kind and respectful manner. Stick to the facts, don't make assumptions or accusations. Part of working in an office environment is addressing conflict in a respectful and productive manner. Keep them from being defensive by using phrases like "I know you didn't mean any harm by ~, but...". Always frame your opinions as opinions, its very important to soften things you believe with "I feel that..." rather than stating it as an objective fact. Avoid putting them on the defensive at all costs. Start with the assumption that nothing they did was done out of malice, focus on listening and understanding their point of view, and make your goal to meet a mutual agreement and find mutual understanding. It just takes practice.

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    Habitually doing someone else's work for them unannounced is ... pretty weird. It takes away your agency, and it could be a sign of some strange competition. I don't think it's as normal as you're making it out to be. The coworker is who should have picked up the next work item and moved on. So, though your suggestions are all valid, I don't think the OP needs to declaw themselves by going all wishy washy and "I know you didn't mean any harm but..." because you don't. If someone is out to get you you stand up for yourself. Be nice yes but leave options open. – Lightness Races with Monica Dec 28 '19 at 14:44
  • (My approach to this would probably be "next time I'd rather you didn't do that") – Lightness Races with Monica Dec 28 '19 at 14:45
  • Co-worker wasn't "there on those days" contrary to original plans (giving 24 extra work hours for the team) though. They worked (or logged in remotely? unclear) part of those days unplanned only in order to complete those tasks. – seventyeightist Dec 30 '19 at 18:48
  • @seventyeightist where are you getting this from? Thats not remotely what the question says and I don't see any comments from OP where that info was added. All OP says is that they worked on those days. – Josh Dec 30 '19 at 19:49
  • @Josh it's in the title: co-worker worked on those days "while they were off". (And I infer that there wasn't just a change of plan like co-worker was going to be officially working those days after all, as it wouldn't be an issue in that case!) – seventyeightist Dec 30 '19 at 20:17
5

There are a few different things that might concern you about this. If you take a look at what you're thinking and figure out which of these are problems for you, you'll be able to make a more targeted solution.

Possibilities:

  1. You're worried about your co-worker's well being.
  2. You're worried it'll reflect badly on you that someone else did your work.
  3. You're worried that your co-worker doesn't want you to do this work for some reason.
  4. You're annoyed that you got up to do work that was already done.
  5. You're paid hourly and have no work to do, so you won't get paid.

What to do for each of these:

  1. Are you friends? If so, talk to them. If not, let it go. As others have said, there are lots of reasons someone might work on a holiday. If it's really bugging you, let your boss know and then let it go.
  2. Let your boss know. It certainly isn't your fault the work got done. If your boss wants to do anything about it or wants you to do anything differently, they'll let you know. Otherwise, it's similar to if you had a task and got it done early.
  3. Don't borrow trouble. If this isn't actually why they're doing it, and you act on this assumption, you'll look like you're being oversensitive. In case it actually is the case, tell your boss what happened (but not why you think it happened).
  4. Let it go. You aren't any worse off than you would have been if they didn't do your work. Kick back and have an easy morning. "If you were going to do my work, you should have told me so I could relax more," wouldn't make you look good.
  5. Tell your boss. They'll need to make sure this doesn't happen again.

Note that there are really two themes here:

  • Tell your boss
  • Don't worry about it

I'm a manager. I often find that team members' concerns boil down to fear that they might get in trouble for something. As soon as I assure them they won't, the concerns are gone. If you talk to your boss, they should be able to assure you this isn't going to harm you in any way, either because there's no problem in the first place or because the boss will fix it.

4

Four possibilities:

  1. A simple oversight.

  2. That person is depressed or has some other issue.

  3. She may not like the quality of your work.

  4. Fourth possibility. That person is committing fraud. In auditing, one clue, that someone is committing fraud, is that they're not taking their vacation when they're supposed to, and they're not letting others do their work, for fear that their fraud/embezzlement could be discovered.

Whichever it is, it's very unlikely that this has anything with you. It's a possibility, yes, but only a very tiny one.

  • #3 is completely about the OP, and if that it is the case it should be dealt with by the manager because there will probably be further issues with the OP in the future. – SJuan76 Dec 27 '19 at 23:19
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    #2 -- some family or in-laws your co-worker cannot stand for yet another holiday, so he or she invented a need to go working. Some loss in the family in the last year or even longer ago, so he or she cannot sit idle and celebrate or the emotions come back. The possibilities are endless. – o.m. Dec 28 '19 at 7:18
  • #5 This type of work is really interesting to the coworker and they wanted to do it / show that they are capable to doing these tasks. – Akavall Dec 28 '19 at 23:11
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    Unfortunately that takes away the opportunity for the OP to show that they are capable of doing these tasks, so they should have picked something else. – Lightness Races with Monica Dec 29 '19 at 2:03
  • I'd rule out #1 on the grounds that this seems to have been explicitly agreed in a 3-way meeting (OP, co-worker and boss) where each agreed their tasks. Having worked in a similar "month end rota" situation before - it was usually that the list of tasks (and timings to some extent) was fixed, but then we had to agree the "who's who" of doing each task. I'm just basing this on my experience, but it is possible/likely (?) that they trade-off month end responsibilities each time, so presumably OP and co-worker (and boss if they are part of it) have equivalent skills? ... – seventyeightist Dec 30 '19 at 21:12
0

Here's a couple of additional possibilities I thought of (further to the already excellent answers already posted!)

This is based on my experience in the past with a specific co-worker, in case none of the existing answers seem to address what you feel your co-worker's motivations may be.

Possibilities

  1. Your co-worker may be - for whatever reason - anxious about those processes being completed and it causes them to feel on edge / uneasy that the tasks that presumably would normally be done on the 25th etc are being left until the 27th.

"What if they don't get done? I need to make sure they get done as user2040021 isn't planning to do them until the 27th!"

Presumably given that it's a "month end" process you have a rota and tasks that must be done by x date.

  1. Your co-worker feels that those tasks you agreed as a group can wait until the 27th MUST actually be completed on their usual days.

This could be due to a lack of understanding of the process on their part, (or indeed on your and your boss's part, though this seems less likely because why wouldn't co-worker have raised objections at the time) - or potentially undermining the 'official' process for personal reasons, feel they can't officially disagree with a group consensus, maybe even as a passive-aggressive act or to show that they (co-worker) are 'more committed' than user2040021.

Responses

(1) can be handled with reassurance and further discussion about the process with most reasonable people. (2) is more problematic as it indicates someone that will agree/commit to something and then undermine it without communicating to others, for dysfunctional reasons.

I'm curious if the co-worker has done things like this in other situations, or has acted in possible 'passive aggressive' ways at other times?

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