My column, Workplace Referee, is designed to help employees and managers gain better insight into each other's point of view (POV). Have a situation you'd like me to address? Please submit it by email here. Don't worry, I'll keep your identity private.
My Boss Expects Me To Pick Up My Coworkers' Slack
Employee POV: My boss has a terrible habit of asking me to do more than my team members. What makes it even worse is that when he asks me, he makes excuses for the lackluster performance of the coworker who didn't get the job done. I'm tired of doing double the work. If my boss held people more accountable, this wouldn't be a problem. Pretty soon, I'm going to just say "no" and see what happens. If he forces me to keep doing everyone else's work, I'll quit. What's the point of being good at your job if the reward is more work?
Manager POV: My team is pretty average in their experience. I have one super star. I've been giving him more work because he seems to be less busy than the rest of the team and can handle the extra workload. I've let him know he is a top performer. I've also let the rest of the team know their goal should be to become as proficient as him in their jobs. However, while he is great at what he does, he's not so good at coaching others. You can tell he likes being seen as "the best" - and isn't forthcoming with information and guidance. This is making it hard for me to get the rest of the team to a higher skill level.
Who's at fault? In this situation, both the employee and boss are missing the bigger problem. Instead of focusing on improving the performance of the rest of the team, they are reacting to the situation. The quick fix of having someone do the work isn't the right answer. Moreover, the employee thinks it's the manager's job to upskill the staff, while the manager feels the employee's job to help them get better. I can only imagine what the staff thinks about the two of them!
What can both sides learn from this?
In this situation, I would advise each side as follows:
Employee Takeaway: Being the martyr isn't helping you, your boss, or your coworkers. Given your expertise, it's time you step up and think about how you can become a better mentor to your peers. Training others to be as successful as you is a great way to gain more credibility in your field and industry. Whereas, acting like the know-it-all and failing to assist in the development of those less skilled than you will define you as the type of coworker to avoid. Being the lone wolf isn't going to help your career in the long run.
Manager Takeaway: Stop praising this employee by throwing his coworkers under bus. Instead, sit down with him and discuss ways you can help him become a better coach to the rest of the staff. Perhaps, you can send him to a course on mentoring? Or, give him more direct feedback on how he can do a better job of empowering the rest of the team. If the two of you can tackle the problem together, you can help everyone improve their skills and abilities. Not to mention, help your entire team learn to support one another more effectively.