Similar questions have been asked her before about dealing with recommendations for someone you don't feel comfortable recommending, but I'm in a bit of a unique situation. You'll have to forgive me if this question gets a bit out of scope. It's hard for me to gauge what details are important.

This person currently works with me and I believe it'd be great for myself and this company if this person was gone. They are lazy (much beyond what is normal), moody (I legitimately believe they have a personality disorder), will find any opportunity to say something isn't their problem, take little pride in most of what they do, etc. I've worked with this person closely through two different employers and could go on forever.

I've never had such an unpleasant time working with someone. Asking this person to do more work, be nicer, etc is out of the question. Everything is a point of pride and things would only be worse (I know. I've tried). Here are my options and the problems I see with each.

1. Make this a management/HR issue.

We're a two-man department. As far as management is concerned our work is getting done and getting done well. Of course this is almost entirely me. They're aware of personality issues but have no idea to what extent this is a problem (admittedly this is mostly just a problem for me and I can deal with it but I'd rather not).

I also have a track record of handling my problems internally and there's something personally objectionable about going to management. Not to mention if he didn't get fired on the spot (which I couldn't imagine he would. Very corporate environment with behavior improvement plans and what not) it would make my job even harder. I share an office with this person and what work gets done and how and when is handled by the both of us.

2. Recommend my coworker.

To me this seems unconscionable. After working with this person under two different employers where he had very different job responsibilities and environments I am convinced their problem stems from some deep part of their personality. I can only imagine this person being successful in some sort of job where he does not interact with others and he has strict, tangible deadlines.

3. Don't recommend my coworker.

The big problem here is I want this person to find another job. A world with another person in this two-man department who cared about the people and the work like I do would be a dream. My quality of life would be hugely improved and life for everyone else here would see small benefits too (mainly just not having to deal with my coworker). Unfortunately I don't see them getting the job with them contacting me and then I say that I do not feel like a good person to give the recommendation.

Asking him not to put me down as a reference is also out of the question due to the personality issues mentioned above.

closed as off-topic by gnat, Chris G, JasonJ, Mister Positive, nvoigt Mar 17 '17 at 9:50

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  • 9
    What's your actual question? – enderland Mar 16 '17 at 19:55
  • What the correct thing to do is in this situation. I know it's an obtuse one and I apologize for that. Really struggled to get down on paper everything I felt was important. – DoverCliff Mar 16 '17 at 20:07
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    1 or 3. Your call. Don't give dishonest recommendations just to get rid of somebody. If your goal is to not have them work there, then 1, otherwise 3 and live with it. Or 4: Talk to them about it. Or 5: Find a new job. If you're looking for somebody here who will convince you that the "easy" way out (2) is the right choice so you can rationalize doing it, you've come to the wrong place! :) Sometimes life isn't easy. – Jason C Mar 16 '17 at 21:04
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    Your assuming this person would actually look for a job and get as far as a checking references? – paparazzo Mar 16 '17 at 21:07
  • @Paparazzi he has this weird, inflated, unfounded ego. He's also not that bad when you first meet him, he just gets burned out (I guess) very quickly. And on paper alone I think he'd get through most hiring processes assuming he has the work experience for the job. – DoverCliff Mar 17 '17 at 12:49

I think you do yourself and the company a disservice if you don't bring up the problems.The end result of this is that the person leaves or is fired or you leave because you have described an irreconcilable problem. Do you think they would rather keep this person and lose you from your frustration with this person?

Suggest you make it clear to your boss what things you are accomplishing.This is a situation where you have to toot your own horn. Often when people are like this, they are also very good at taking credit for the work of others, so the first priority is to make sure management knows what you are doing and get credit for your successes.

Suggest you let the tasks assigned to the other person fail instead of rushing in to fix them before anyone notices if you are doing that. You want a clear difference between your work and his. If you have to take over something because he failed at it, then let it fail and then fix and let your boss know that you fixed his bad work. You can be very matter of fact about it, you don't have to accuse him, just say that such and such wasn't working and you stepped in to fix it. What you are doing currently is masking his bad performance and thus enabling him to leech off of you. You are not doing anyone any favors by doing that. You have trained him that being lazy and expecting others to do his work is a good strategy.

You might even try a frank talk with him before you do this - telling him that he should be fully up to speed and you don't have time to do his work and yours. I know once I had to tell someone exactly why a different person was getting a promotion and she was not. It was an excruciating conversation. And we shared an office and it was uncomfortable for awhile. But it was necessary. I am not saying this conversation will work out well, I expect it won't from what you wrote. But being uncomfortable after telling a few difficult things to someone is just something that you occasionally have to do at work.

Is it uncomfortable to do this? Yes. But it will make him more likely to leave when his bad performance is noticed and all he really has to do is step up his game to fix it but I am betting he won't want to. I wouldn't worry in this case about be asked to give a recommendation. I have never yet had a leech ask me for one if I didn't let him leech.

It might also be helpful if you search out some books on co-dependency as they have some strategies on how to have these types of conversations when you are no longer willing to let them depend on you to fix everything so they don't have to bother.

  • +1 but one problem for letting his work fail is that he doesn't have much work to fail at. We decide in-department (between the two of us) who will do what. For the first six months or so I just ended up working on most things, but at this point I explicitly tell him I am handling most projects myself just so we don't have that awkwardness of every time an issue coming in figuring out who's going to do it and every time I say I will anyway. Obviously this is a hole a dug myself, but it does make the situation more challenging. Still, thanks for the answer! I'll try the books too. – DoverCliff Mar 17 '17 at 12:46

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