I share an office with a slacker. Three-hour long lunches, sometimes not returning at all. When at their desk, anything but work. On average, this individual works one to two hours a day. This has been going on for ages. Part of me wants to tell the manager but 1) I don't want to be a rat; 2) it may make the manager feel as though they are not on top of their employees and they could shoot the messenger (me!); 3) it may result in the micro-management of the rest of us; 4) my co-worker may find out I'm the rat, thereby jeopardizing our relationship; and 5) do I really care enough? The perks are 1) that this person may start working, which would reduce my already overwhelming workload (as I'm having to carry the weight of their slackery); 2) the organization/company will not be ripped off any more re: time theft; and 3) I would be less distracted and thus, more productive. And, yes, I've spoken to the individual first and they're not interested in making any changes.
You know, over the course of my professional life, I've pretty much come full circle on the question of so-called "ratting out" one's colleagues at work.
I remember my first-ever (career-related) job, fresh out of school, me a little green around the horns, as a junior reporter for a weekly newspaper on Long Island, thinking: "Not only will I admit openly and honestly to all my own mistakes, but I will also nobly 'fall on the grenade' as the occasion arises and take the blame for my co-workers' screw-ups as well."
My new-found colleagues, when they discovered this was my policy, couldn't believe their luck! A rube, a patsy, a sucker with a target on his back had wandered into their midst, willing to take the blame for their mistakes? They started dumping their blunders, slip-ups, faults and errors on me wholesale. After a few months, "my contract was not renewed," shall we say, even though I was good at my job and worked hard.
Nursing my wounds, back on my mother's couch, I thought: "Hmm, have I maybe misjudged human nature?"
But still, the misguided urge to cover for colleagues persisted until fairly recently. I was trying to cover for a co-worker who was actually hurting me professionally, when my boss – a boss of the laser-like focus, don't-even-try-to-b.s.-me variety – sensing a problem, said, in effect: "Dave, you owe it to me, and the company, to tell me what's really going on here."
And I realized he was right. He had hired me. He was putting bread and meat on my family's table – not the person I was covering for. So I spilled the beans.
I think you should too. "Rat" your colleague out to your boss. For any number of reasons. For one thing, a person such as that is potentially dangerous – they could, and I think would, do anything to cover their backside if it came down to it, including feeding you into the (metaphorical) wood-chipper.
Also, it's hurting the organization. If that makes me sound like too much of a "company man," well, then, so be it. I've referenced the book Sapiens before, by Yuval Noah Harari, but let me do it one last time. It's a big, fat book full of excellent points, but here's the gist: 1) It is our ability as a species to organize/co-operate that has enabled this slow, weak, fangless, clawless, mostly hairless animal to be at the top of the food chain; 2) what we call "gossip" is a crucial tool, as it helps us identify weak links in the organizations we create.
You have identified a weak link in your organization. That weak link is hurting not only the company as a whole but also your own ability to perform your duties, as you attempt to pick up the slack for this slacker.
As I see it, your path is clear – a path straight to your boss's office, whereupon you unload forthwith and in great detail your colleague's goldbricking.
Don't worry about being a rat, for reasons stated above. And don't worry about your boss becoming upset and "shooting the messenger." Quite the opposite. You are doing your boss a favour, you owe it to him or her and the entire organization, and you should be and I believe will be thanked for coming forward.
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