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

A mini case study

Our Co-Worker is Making Us Crazy Part 2In Part I of the mini case study we learned about the situation with Janet and of Anna’s request, on behalf of the team, that the supervisor, Samuel, intervene. When we left the story, Samuel was considering how he would approach the situation.

Samuel reached out to a few peers to help him in thinking through the best approach with Janet. He acknowledges that he probably should have addressed the situation much sooner, but was hoping that Janet would “settle in” and the group would work it out amongst themselves.

His peers provided the following advice:

  • Samuel should deal with the situation soon as it is already been going on too long and it may appear to Janet that the behavior is acceptable.
  • The conversation should focus on how she must behave within the group and the processes, procedures and “ways of working” overall that must be followed by everyone in the group.
  • An action plan should be created to ensure a list of actions that will be taken, accountability for taking action and a timeline to do so.
  • What will happen if changes do not occur should be clearly stated in the action plan (part of accountability.)

Samuel did some homework of his own and learned:

  • Janet was not pulling her weight in responding to customer calls – significantly less calls routed to her than to others in the workgroup because her phone was often busy.
  • Of the seven customer complaints that had come in over the last year, four of them were attributed to Janet.

Samuel scheduled the meeting the next day with Janet. He started the conversation with the statement that her co-workers felt like she wasn’t part of the team and it appeared she didn’t want to be a part of the team. He was also concerned about her lack of productivity and issues she has had with customers during calls. He noted that while he didn’t expect that Janet would be best friends with her coworkers, she must learn to work with them and to share the workload.  He also asked Janet if there were particular concerns she had or issues that prevented her from working within the processes and procedures that were expected of the group. Janet had none to share but she did note that she hadn’t had to work in such an environment before. She was a bit overwhelmed by the group.

Together, Samuel and Janet worked on an action plan that included the following information:




Reach out to coworkers to establish a better working relationship with each of them.


Samuel will “ease the way” here by reaching out to the others in the group to let them know that Janet will be reaching out to get more involved in supporting the group and the efforts of the department through getting to know her coworkers and enabling them to get to know her.

Janet will set up one-on-one meetings with coworkers to get to know them better and so that they can get to know her.


Within 2 weeks – initially reach out to all coworkers.

Work with coworkers to coordinate:
Lunches, breaks and other times away from the desk

Participate during the daily morning 15-minute meeting when the group coordinates the day among themselves.


Reduce personal calls to during breaks/lunch times and be sensitive to noise levels so as not to disturb coworkers.



Attend the online customer support webinar to reduce customer complaints.

Take time during the day, coordinating with coworkers to be “off the phones.”

Within 2 weeks

Additional conversation between Janet and Samuel led Samuel to believe that Janet was willing and motivated to correct the situation. Samuel left the meeting feeling confident that progress would be made. He also realized that some of the problem was on his shoulders for not dealing with the situation much sooner. Part of his onboarding would include him spending at least a day with each new employee to ensure they understand the culture of the group and to help them to fit in to the group.

QUESTION: What would you have done in this situation?

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