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Our Co-Worker is Making Us Crazy! (Part 1 of 2)

A mini case study

Our Co-Worker is Making Us Crazy! (Part 1 of 2)Anna works in customer service in her organization. Customer service reps do not have individual offices and are in an open area. This enables them to collaborate to better support customers. The group consists of five customer service personnel, four of whom have been with the company for 5+ years. Nearly everyone uses headphones on their calls, keeps quiet in their work area, and take turns responding to incoming customer service calls (which are routed to open phone lines.) However, one of the five customer service reps, Janet, who has one year of tenure with the group, has been a consistent problem. Here is Anna’s story (which is similar to the story of the others in the group):

When Janet started with the group she was provided with an orientation about how the group worked. This included processes and procedures, rules of conduct in the work area, and how the group supports and cooperates with each other. She had 2 weeks of training that included this information along with shadowing others.

The group is closeknit and supports each other. At times someone must be away from their desk with limited notice and the others pitch in to pick up the slack. They coordinate lunches and other breaks. They limit personal calls to breaks or lunch so the incoming calls are fairly distributed. They are sensitive to the fact that they are in close quarters and therefore make efforts to reduce noise within the work area by not playing radios too loudly or talking too loudly with coworkers.

Janet, however, is a different story. She is frequently on personal calls. On one day in particular, she spent nearly two hours talking with friends about upcoming weekend plans. On that day another coworker was out ill and that left three of the others to handle all calls coming in since Janet’s line was tied up for that time period. She takes breaks and goes to lunch without regard for the others and frequently returns late. When coworkers have asked for her help, she has outright refused to support them.

The group finds her disagreeable and don’t want to confront her because they are afraid it will get worse. There was one time when a coworker did ask Janet what was up and why won’t she help out others when needed. Janet’s response was that she wasn’t interested in “being a member of their little team,” and “wanted to be left alone.”

Anna, speaking on behalf of the others, approached their direct supervisor, Samuel, for help. Samuel told her that the group should try to work it out amongst themselves as he felt that if he got involved it would appear that they were complaining and it may make the situation worse. The group, however, felt that it was the supervisor’s responsibility to correct the situation.

After Anna left, Samuel considered his options. He had never had to deal with such an issue before. He had been working with the group for a while now and they got along great. His boss, as a matter of fact, was always commenting in meetings with the supervisory team that Samuel had one of the best teams in the department – they worked well together and consistently got high marks from customers.

QUESTION: What would you do if you were Samuel?

Stay tuned for Part II where we learn what steps Samuel took to resolve the situation.

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