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Same manager as my previous post. My colleague and I are working on the same project, and we are at the same level in the org chart (in fact, we are in the same role), but he is newer to the organization than I am by about 2 years.

Since I've been here for a while and I've done things like this in the past, I've got my part pretty much done and now it's up to my colleague to do his part before we can finish it. Our deadline is still 2 weeks away and I am fairly confident that things will get finished. In short, I am not worried, nor am I frustrated with my colleague, they just have other priorities right now.

My manager asked me if I was working on the project and I told her the same thing - My part is pretty much done, my colleague is working through theirs. My manager then implied heavily that she is not confident that my colleague will finish the work and that he needs to get it done right away, and told me that there were other things that this person hasn't gotten done yet.

I'm not asking for a critique of my manager here, rather: do I bring this up with my colleague? If so, how? I am very much not his supervisor nor do I want to bring it up to the supervisor, because at this point there is nothing actually wrong. However, I feel that if this is what the manager thinks, problems could occur down the road if I don't give warning.

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    Just out of curiosity, if you are done with your part and they have other (valid?) priorities, what are you doing now? Why aren't you helping or taking over their part?
    – nvoigt
    Oct 21, 2023 at 5:08
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    @nvoigt because their part is something that they have to do. Specifically, we are working on a client handoff to my colleague. I literally cannot do their part since it requires them to do a bunch of set up stuff and start planning for how they are going to take over the client
    – work572
    Oct 23, 2023 at 13:38
  • I like to use myself as the object in such scenarios. Something like, "Boss has been really grinding me to finish X even though we still have 2 weeks..." that should convey any urgency you wish to, while putting zero negatives on your colleague. I like to put myself as the subject if things are negative, and put "us" if things are positive.
    – Guarneer
    Oct 27, 2023 at 8:08

4 Answers 4

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You don't tell the colleague.

The management chain (be it manager, supervisor, whatever) is already aware of the situation. It's their role to signal concerns to your colleague regarding performance and such.

You're not in that chain. It's not your role to do nudge anyone to complete work, especially if you know one is admittedly already working on it.

However, I feel that if this is what the manager thinks, problems could occur down the road if I don't give warning.

And they are none of your business. You have documented that your work is completed. If problems could occur, they are for management and your colleague.

Management could be trying to offset the "hard talks" to you. Don't fall for it. Keep doing your work as specified in your contract and you are doing great.

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  • I agree but OP should still tell him that management is unhappy so that he might get a little concerned and change his attitude / work faster.
    – Or4ng3h4t
    Oct 24, 2023 at 13:52
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You can say to your colleague that your boss is counting on the job being finished on time.

This will make it obvious that conversation has been happening. Your colleague may ask if the boss mentioned their specific performance or contribution. You must redirect the conversation back to the business goal of finishing the project on time. Do not in any way, shape, or form say "the boss said _____ about you".

If things slip, just give occasional reminders about the business goal. That's the best you can do.

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  • "Your colleague may ask if the boss mentioned their specific performance or contribution. You must redirect the conversation back to the business goal" Well, how does this go? "Did boss mentioned me?" "Let's just keep the goal timeline." "Alright, but did the boss mentioned me?" Rinse and repeat?
    – LoremIpsum
    Oct 21, 2023 at 7:53
  • Do a Forrest Gump -"that's all I have to say about that."
    – Xavier J
    Oct 21, 2023 at 13:23
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    @XavierJ, what's the purpose of such evasion? To most listeners, the only difference between saying "yes" and saying "that's all I have to say", is that in the latter case you're clearly now dealing with someone who is non-straightforward. It would be a lot more effective to either not get involved at all, or else to acknowledge the essential facts. Few would press for a verbatim account of a conversation, unless you've already implied there is some kind of skulduggery.
    – Steve
    Oct 22, 2023 at 11:38
  • @Steve Maybe the co-worker can take the hint that their performance isn't quite up to snuff. It might be appropriate to suggest a conversation with the manager if more details are needed
    – Xavier J
    Oct 22, 2023 at 15:05
  • @XavierJ, if you're willing to hint something, then why not just say that something? Consider this: "Just had a conversation with Manager X as I've finished my part of the work. He's worried that your part of the work is still outstanding when your plate is also full with other things. Is everything manageable overall, and can I help with anything?". That's an example of a perfectly proper and workmanlike approach from a peer who is senior in experience. I don't see what is better achieved by conveying this more vaguely through the medium of hints. (1/2)
    – Steve
    Oct 22, 2023 at 15:47
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Stay out of it

Performance management is your manager's job and not yours. Whatever concerns your manager about your peer has: it's their responsibility to address it.

Unless there is a specific ask from your manager (mentor, take over, help out) ignore it. Even if there is a specific ask, make sure you clearly define the goal, scope and exit-point of your involvement before you engage.

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    Especially if all they did was imply. If they are explicitly giving you team lead responsibilities and asking you to help the other employee become more productive, that's a different matter. And the implication could as easily be "why aren't you helping them work past whatever they're hung up on, or taking some of the load off them." Don't try to read minds; if you think you are being asked to do something, get more explicit direction about what, and if unstated assume it's a request for you to improve the situation rather than to pass the buck to someone else.
    – keshlam
    Oct 21, 2023 at 15:36
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No action required

In line with the other answers, I really don't feel any action is required.

Your manager asked for a status report. You've explained that you're done, and that your colleague seems to be on track.

Being proactive

Your manager has suggested she has worries about things staying on track - apparently because of things you're not aware of.

It's not clear she's said this because she is expecting you to intervene with your colleague.

She may have been just thinking out loud, to mark the contrast with the confidence you've expressed about how things are progressing. If there is any reaction intended on your part, it may simply be greater alertness.

If the manager really does want the colleague giddied up, she could have the conversation with your colleague (either alone, or with the pair of you together) to ensure things are progressing correctly.

If you really feel some kind of action on your part is necessary (either because you think the manager has strongly implied this, or because you're not expected to be totally passive towards your less experienced colleague), simply approach your colleague, acknowledge the conversation with the manager, that the manager has said there's a few things on his plate besides this project, and ask whether there is anything you can do to help with the rest of the project while you've got some free time.

Unless there's already some kind of adverse atmosphere, few colleagues would take umbrage at a manager sending someone at idle to help someone who isn't, and complete things a little sooner if possible. Your colleague can then either accept or reject your offer. They may reasonably reject if they feel everything is in hand.

If your colleague rejects but progress does then derail, I don't see there can be any fault perceived on your part. It's not your responsibility to be insistent, if as far as you are concerned there are no grounds currently to think anything is amiss, and your manager doesn't feel sure enough to take direct action either.

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