Advice Column: Response to Stressed out Employee

Dear Hailey,

How do I handle my lazy supervisor? We are working from home during quarantine and I can’t quit my job now but it’s getting extremely difficult to keep working with someone who lays most ,if not all, of the work on me and does the bare minimum. She delegates 75% of the work to me, logs off, and then tells me to just complete the remaining 25% even though she has done absolutely nothing the entire day. She’s so lazy that sometimes she doesn’t even check her emails and tells me to do it instead. It’s been going on for months now but it seems to be getting worse. What should I do?

Stressed out Employee

Dear Stressed,

It absolutely sucks to be saddled with a lazy boss. Especially in this already exceptionally stressful time, the last thing anyone needs is a crummy work situation. 

Do all you can to document all the work you complete. Do not allow your boss to sign your work as her own. As you document the work you are completing, and complete a work from home record. Do what you can carry out most of the communication with your boss in email form, so that it can be kept as a record every time she passes her work on to you. 

Address this issue of the heavy workload directly with your supervisor. Delicate situations are always better received when they are framed with your perspective. For example, “I am feeling overwhelmed, and need help with this heavy workload”, will be better received than “You need to pick up the slack and stop asking me to do all of the work”. Both statements are truthful, but the first frames your perspective and is not accusatory in any way. 

Most people enjoy feeling like “the hero”, so this reframes the work for your supervisor and makes her more likely to do her part. Maybe suggest the need to hire additional staff. Supervisors are almost always under certain pressures to keep their numbers/employees at certain levels, this could also encourage her to do her part. 

If you have this conversation and nothing changes, you might want to consider taking what you have documented of your work up the chain of command. Exactly how you proceed depends on the culture and structure of the company you work for. HR can be a good option, maybe your supervisor’s boss. HR employees are trained in conflict resolution, and can offer you solutions within the context of your company. 

This is an incredibly delicate situation, and only proceed with going to an outside party if your company has a history of listening and taking care of issues. We don’t want this to backfire and affect your employment. If your company is large enough to have different departments, consider attempting a transfer.

I wish you luck,


Posted in Q&A

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