Wednesday, 24 June 2009

How far are you willing to let it go?

Everyone I know has a job, and with jobs come colleagues. Colleagues are an odd thing when you think about it, you spend more time with them than anyone else, they see you at your best and at your worst, and yet they aren't your friends. They are not people you choose to spend time with, you may not even like them very much, but you are forced into this situation of almost cohabitation during work hours. They are not friends, they are not strangers they are somewhere on the middle.

So here's the thing, a colleague of mine is going through some crazy personal issues, they are emotionally in turmoil. Of this I am all aware having made them tea and listen to their tales of woe, and to their plight I am sympathetic. Being a good colleague I have soothed and listened, especially when they started being brought to task with their work. Ay there's the rub. Their level of work is beginning to be affected, and being aware of what he/she is going through, how far are you willing to let it go?

You have sympathised with him/her, and listened when she needed you to but now he/she is dropping the ball with things and it's affecting you and your work, what now? Should you continue to let is go and hope that when he/she feels better things will improve? In other words behave like a friend. Or haul their ass over the coals until they bucks their ideas up? Neither options are great, either you are a doormat or the office bitch, not a persona you want to wear during office hours.

So is there a happy medium? Is it possible to be both a caring colleague and a whistle blower? What if the behaviour persists? It's not going to get better by itself, so biding your time is out, but is the answer really adding fuel to the fire that is already burning? What if you can't help yourself? I pride myself on doing a good job, when I am at work, my head is at work, and unfortunately this person's seems to be somewhere else. Is it acceptable for someone to bring down the team, like a lame doe at the back of the herd, or should the fat be trimmed?

Maybe it's kinder, as pandering to their needs doesn't seem to have helped, maybe some tough love is in order. I guess the big question is when someone's capability is being called into question, should their personal hardships be taken into account? If you look at their work with an ice cold eye and it doesn't come up to scratch, if you asses their recent abilities and find that they are not capable, then surely there's your answer. As harsh as it sound but should we really be taking into account people's personal issues when we are look at their ability to do the job?

Simple questions, are they performing to the standard required? No, but their dog died/brother is sick/husband left them... Here's the tricky bit, how much of their personal life should you be taking into account? If they are unable to perform the job that they are contracted to do then they are not capable. So in a review of their capabilities, the answer is no.

Harsh but true. One can always hope, though, maybe they will get the message and leave their personal stuff at home when they come to work, or maybe getting the boot is what they need. Yes, one can always hope for a happy ending, but London life, I find, is not always like that.

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