This question is about a retail environment

We are a high-profile shop selling expensive premium items. Customer care is obviously a high priority.

The colleague in question was hired primarily for her skill in talking to customers in Chinese, as we have a lot of Chinese customers.

The problem is that the co-worker, after working four months, has not picked up on anything that is required for her job.

She does speak to Chinese customers and even initiates some deals.


When it comes to anything but speaking to customers, she is a net negative for the whole team. She refuses to do basic tasks that are expected of every worker in the company. She does so in a pleading manner, so that usually at least one colleague (usually me) steps in to do the job. Even if she is willing to do a task, she usually has questions about obvious problems (multiple times for the same problem). In that case she ties down at least one other co-worker for the time being. It is the consensus within our team, that said co-worker is a nice person but is draining more of the team's productivity than providing to it.

Management is insisting that they need her

We are sure there is some person out there that speaks Chinese and actually does their job in beneficial way.

I'd like to stress, that we are not actually intent on "getting rid" of the colleague. We are just disillusioned about helping her to not drain us.

Due to the nature of this environment, her performance is "distributed" on ours.

What can we, as employees do in this case?

  • Who's responsible for hiring and firing?
    – Xavier J
    Dec 5, 2016 at 22:32
  • Management. As I said, they hired them for their language skills. But their underperformance get's "distributed" on all of us.
    – MrPaulch
    Dec 5, 2016 at 22:34
  • @MrPaulch Is this a commission sales environment?
    – Myles
    Dec 5, 2016 at 22:37
  • No, the whole "shop" has a commission, but not an individual worker.
    – MrPaulch
    Dec 5, 2016 at 22:38

1 Answer 1


Since management is responsible for hiring and firing, there's nothing you can do to make this team member carry her load. BUT you aren't required to carry her load, either. I think this environment you're in is one where you are hypervigilant about customer service, and this is causing everybody to take up the slack for this low-performer when she falls apart. In psychology terms, you are enabling the behavior by accommodating her shortcomings. She won't grow because she doesn't need to.

When she falls on her face during a customer interaction, and you've made steps to give her the proper training (document where, when, and who gave the training), let her dig her way out by herself. When the customers start complaining -- and they will -- and management approaches the rest of you, pull out your documentation. But stop helping. This is the only way things will change. It will be messy in the short run, but it will correct itself in the long run because management will be forced to step in and either get her on board properly (or fire her).


I just read about the "shop" commission - that sucks!

  • We were hoping, that the system will sort this out, or the co-worker will advance. But for the former there is a 3 month trial period, which has passed.
    – MrPaulch
    Dec 5, 2016 at 22:49
  • I don't know your locale, but if employment is on an at-will basis, then a trial period is a moot point if management needs to terminate her -- if it's severe enough, and they're not legally required to keep her, she's out.
    – Xavier J
    Dec 5, 2016 at 22:52
  • There are actual laws that protect employers after they have worked at a company for more than 3 months. After that they need two disciplinary warnings to be eligible for termination.
    – MrPaulch
    Dec 5, 2016 at 22:58
  • @JoeStrazzere then that makes this question a moot one, so we'll assume that's not the case. lmao
    – Xavier J
    Dec 5, 2016 at 23:13

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