I was talking to a friend recently about their work. Specifically, about a problem individual at work. What was really interesting about our talk was how greatly it contrasted the way we thought about this situation. Unfortunately, I believe most people would agree with my friend. So I have decided to lay out my argument and beliefs and hope that some people find it thought-provoking enough to comment on.
First, the situation: At my friend’s work there is a coworker who is not very good at their job. I am not just saying that they can’t get their own job done satisfactorily, but that they even drag down the work of anyone else they interact with. My friend also related the fact that every person they had talked to about this coworker agreed completely with their assessment.
My first question was, “Have you told your boss this?” To which I got the reply, “I don’t want to be the rat!”
That stopped me. I had in no way considered that it would be a negative thing to do something that, in my mind, would improve the work environment. I started to consider this point of view and one question came to mind: who are you being the rat to?
Your boss? I know that if I was the boss, I would be very happy to find out about someone that I was paying that was not pulling their weight. I would also see it as a team morale issue. If this one person is pulling down my entire team, how much better would they perform without the, pardon the term, dead-weight? So I ruled the boss out.
Your coworkers? My friend had just told me that every coworker they had talked to had come to the exact same conclusion about this person. They all believed that this coworker was hampering them from doing their job to the level that they wanted. Removing this person would not only make them better at their jobs, but it would also improve their work experience because they would not have to deal with the frustration this person creates. So I ruled out the coworkers.
The dead-weight? Now I have two answers. The first believes that the dead-weight is dead-weight because they either do not like their job, do not care about their job, or for some other reason have stopped being passionate about their job. For this person, it seems to me like it would be somewhat of a release to not have to do that job anymore. They would be free to pursue a vocation that they are actually passionate about. They would be forced to consider what they really want in their life and to chase after it. In this case, my friend is not being a rat, but is instead helping the dead-weight to go find something they are truly passionate about.
The second scenario is that the dead-weight is hiding in their job, knowing that they are not being helpful, but just holding the space in order to collect a paycheck. They have found an “easy” paycheck that they think they can just sit on, at everyone else’s expense, forever. In this one case, my friend is being the rat to them. But in this case, is there anyone out there who cares? I most definitely would not.
In that case, they are taking a job away from someone who would be passionate about it. They are hurting the company they work for. They are hurting their coworkers. They are hurting my friend. In that case, be the rat.
I would love to hear what people think about my take on this situation. Please leave a comment, or feel free to email me at Ryan Lynch at 47LLC dot com.