I have noticed that a colleague in my team is consistently leaving way before the 8 hours of the day.

I am not sure how come this has not been noticed by our team manager.
Personally this is starting to affect me as I need to step in and finish tasks not done on time by the colleague. I have actually stayed some extra hours on occasions due to that.

I am not sure what is the best way to handle this.

  1. Talking to the manager without taking to the colleague first seems to me very strict. Also I don't know if the manager would think that in a way I think he is to blame for not being aware what's going on.
  2. Talking to the colleague directly seems a difficult conversation as I am not sure what reaction I would get or if I would get emotional in the end and be aggressive (not intentionally but don't know how the discussion would evolve).
  3. Not finish tasks and let projects fail so what's happening is clear. I haven't done this because I think it is best to focus on what needs to be done and address other issues later.
    What is the best approach?
  • Are these tasks assigned to specific people, or is there just a list of tasks to be completed by the group collectively? – cdkMoose Aug 8 '16 at 20:48
  • @cdkMoose:Some are interdependent. So the assigned task appears to be done but when it will be in production many cases will fail and due to interdependencies it will not be immediately apparent what happened – smith Aug 8 '16 at 20:52
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    Why the down vote? – smith Aug 8 '16 at 21:03
  • Are these roles salaried with no set hours and do you know what start time they normally start at? – Pepone Aug 8 '16 at 22:33
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    If there are tasks you need him to finish, talk to him directly about the tasks. Don't mention that you think he is leaving too early. – Brandin Aug 9 '16 at 7:23

Raise the issue with your manager. Focus on how it affects you, not the other employee. There may be a medical, legal, personal or some other situation the manager cannot discuss with you. The discussion should focus on solutions around your workload, even if you have to pull it back in that direction. For your concerns, this is really only about workload--if she were leaving early and you didn't have too much work to do, there would be little cause to grumble. You'd probably both leave early. If the solution is for her to stay, that's for the manager to decide in light of things you may not know. If the solution is to get someone else, again, that's the manager's call.

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    The problem isn't that the person leaves early. The problem is that their work isn't being completed on time. Focus on that. – Chris G Aug 8 '16 at 21:27
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    +1 for this answer. Let your manager know you are having to complete their work as well as your own. It's your manager's job to handle the situation from there. – Maybe_Factor Aug 8 '16 at 22:59

The first approach would be my suggestion as there may be the chance that this has already been noticed and resolved but it wasn't something to tell everyone else on the team. The other colleague may be working at night to make up the time, using paid time off that has to be used up, or other arrangements that could happen in some positions. These are possible as it isn't like you know every word of what has been discussed between the colleague and the team lead here.

Choosing to not finish tasks, which is where you'd be mimicking not putting in full days, would be a passive aggressive move that may cause more issues in the end I'd suspect. I would also consider discussing your staying extra hours to get things done as there may be a problem of unreasonable expectations here too.

  • The expectations are not unreasonable. I strongly believe that working at night etc is certainly not happening due to how sloppy things are done – smith Aug 8 '16 at 20:49
  • @dan1111, how about refusing to do your own work? That is how I understood the remark as sometimes work will get reassigned. – JB King Aug 9 '16 at 18:52
  • @JBKing, I understood it to be doing the colleague's work due to the comment on needing to "step in" and finish tasks. Even if it is shared work, the OP is working extra hours to take up the slack, and I don't think it would be passive-aggressive to stop that. Of course, refusing to do one's own work would be a different matter. – user45590 Aug 10 '16 at 6:10

My first instinct is: Raise this with your manager ASAP.

The person may need to leave early for reasons unbeknownst to you, but that's up to management to handle. Mention that tasks are being left up in the air and that the unfinished tasks are your concern, it makes you seem concerned rather than petty. From the tone of your post I am making the assumption that this is a sincere concern.

So, to address your points directly.

  1. Bringing it up to your manager if done in the context of having concerns for the work getting done and the difficulties it is causing for you is a mature approach. It's not "ratting out" a coworker if you approach this with tact. "Gee boss, I really even hate to mention this, but Richard's leaving early is making me rush around to the point I'm afraid I'll start making some mistakes". Sounds a good deal better than "HEY!!!! Richard's leaving early all the time and it's not FAAAIIIR!!!! If you take this approach, again, put it in the context of the job and not interpersonal difficulties.
  2. If you bring it up to the coworker directly, again, tact reigns supreme. "Richard, I know you've been leaving early, my concern is not so much with that but the fact that you're leaving tasks unfinished. That's affecting me because I am stepping in and finishing them. Please, before you go make sure your tasks are done. It's gotten to the point where it's affecting me. Please finish your tasks, I may get busy to the point where I cannot finish yours and mine". Or something of that nature. If you cannot approach it this way, #1 is the way to go
  3. Letting projects fail will hurt the company, and if it comes back that you knew about it and did and said nothing, it could come back to bite you hard to the point where your career at that company is jeopardized. Do not take this option unless ordered to do so by management.

I would absolutely agree that you should raise this issue ... and that you should raise it only with your manager. You should not discuss it directly with the employee.

You have reason to discuss the matter with your manager only because "in your opinion, there's something that's negatively impacting your ability to timely perform the tasks that s/he has assigned for you to do." Absent any indications to the contrary, s/he naturally expects you to more-or-less accomplish the things that you've been assigned, and s/he expects you to be pro-active with regard to any "surprises."

However:   be absolutely certain(!) that your approach is "strictly business." This matter does not concern "that (other) person." It only concerns you. Your assigned tasks, and your (percived) difficulty in completing them.

Anything(!) beyond those very-strict boundaries "is not your concern, nor within the realm of your authority." Instead: "that's why your manager gets paid the big bucks." (koff, koff ...) Furthermore: be very careful to respectfully receive your manager's response, no matter what that response may be and whether-or-not you personally expected it and/or agree with it.

(Please think ahead: "someday, that shoe will be on the OTHER foot." You will be "on the other side of that desk," as I have been, and then you will fully sympathize with what I mean. This is "a TWO-way street," and your manager is a part of it too, albeit with a very-different [by design] point of view.)


You, and your team, need to be careful not to be an enabler. There are certainly some people in the workplace that will take advantage of the fact that you will cover their lack of effort. It may be that the reason your manager hasn't noticed is because the work is getting done.

Whether you should talk to your manager really depends on the full team relationship and may or may not be a good idea. It could be viewed as helpful by your manager, or you could come across as a complainer. Without knowing your team's culture it's hard to say how it would be received.

Real outcomes should make it t apparent to your manager what is going on. Do your job and work the expected amount of time. There may be random times that some extra effort is needed, but otherwise don't go out of your way to put in extra hours to cover someone else. If you and everyone else on the team just worry about getting your tasks done, it should become evident to your manager that this other person is not doing their job. There may be some short term deadlines missed, but this shouldn't be enough to make a project fail unless your manager really isn't paying attention or won't take action.

It may be that the other employee has a legitimate reason (health, etc) for needing to leave early, but even in that case, it is not your job to make up for their work unless your manager has already talked to you about it, which apparently they have not.

  • Why the down votes? I find it interesting that this is very similar to Joe Strazzere's comment on the question which received 2 upticks instead of the 2 down votes I received. – cdkMoose Aug 9 '16 at 15:17
  • What do you mean by the term complainer. Who is viewed as a complainer? – smith Aug 9 '16 at 18:26
  • Some managers (not good ones) would rather not be bothered with the situation and view you as the problem by bringing your "complaint" to them. They'd rather you just make sure you get the work done. That is why it is important to know what type of manager you have before having any discussion. – cdkMoose Aug 9 '16 at 19:24

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