Saturday, June 20, 2015

It's Just Not Fair!

People often say 'it's unfair that he gets away with doing nothing,' but at the end of the day, it really doesn't change anything... By pointing out that it's not fair, we just make ourselves feel bad and the situation doesn't change. Instead, focus on being the best that you can be.  - Stever Robbins / Jacquelyn Smith

One of the most common ailments I hear from domestic staff industry colleagues swirls around the issue of workplace fairness, known within polite human resource management circles as internal (or external) inequity; a worker experiencing the perception - the worker's own, valid reality - of someone within their domestic staff (or in another household) getting a better deal

And it doesn't really matter what the deal is; it could be wages, task assignment, number of hours worked or time off taken, benefits, appreciation from their manager (which is often the estate principals, themselves), or just a sense they're being held more accountable for results while one or more of their co-workers "gets away" with a wide variety of misbehavior or dishonesty.

These concerns are not to be dismissed lightly. As noted before in other posts, the organisms within any tide pool will create equilibrium - with or without the assistance from official channels - and how yourself and fellow honest working types proceed is best kept on the high road and with a focus on long-term efficiency, as not doing so can nurture the most toxic of work environments - those which only the bravest (or the least caring) employees would be able to survive. This is where leadership distinguishes itself from management; workers are looking for someone to step in and organize a fair environment before it's too late. If you are the workers' Estate Manager, a performance management system, addressed in numerous posts, is where the repair should begin. But, what if you're not the Estate Manager - or worse, you actually are... yet have no authority to actually manage the staff?

What if... it's already too late?!  

This is where I usually get the phone call from a concerned Citizen, asking advice on what to now do, and most notably of late, the sub-topic of workplace slackers seems quite popular. Not a simple issue to resolve in one post, yet we can address it here with an interesting article from, whereby the author has sensible and drama-free suggestions for dealing with those on a team who, for whatever reasons, simply do not pull their weight or who have been adopted by the principals as a child and are now held less accountabile for responsible behaviors than the professional staff on board; introducing now: the lazy employee, AKA the slacker; and dealing with the unfortunate presence of this person effectively can be summarized as written in the top paragraph of this post:

Focus on being the best you can be.

Easier said than done? Yes, indeed, as no one ever said work would be easy, but it can be done. And to help us do it, Forbes contributing author Jacquelyn Smith has put together a great list of helpful suggestions for keeping a healthy and positive perspective on the matter - which, in fact - will be absolutely required for you to keep yourself shining brightly and to, yes, help all members on your team, including those who aren't pulling their weight.

What I like just as much as the list itself, is that she has updated her article every August between 2011 and 2013, starting with 10 suggestions, then 11, and finalizing with 12; I inherently just like people who keep improving upon any process, especially if it's their own. Take the time to really read each one, because even though the end result will be essentially the summary sentence written above, they each approach the situation from different angles which may apply to different teams and estates; I'm certain you will find one or more that applies to you.

Article reprinted below from


Do you work with someone who takes two-hour lunch breaks, makes dozens of personal calls and naps in their desk chair? Perhaps they frequent the restroom or surf the web all day, while you hustle to keep up with your daily workload. It's not uncommon to come across a lazy co-worker, and they're not always easy to deal with.

Carping and tattling won't get you anywhere - but there are a few things you can do to alleviate the issue. Here are 12 tips for dealing with a lazy co-worker from Stever Robbins (, an executive and personal coach, and top 10 business podcaster.

1. Don't let them distract you. Don't spend your day focusing on the fact that your lazy co-worker is constantly checking Facebook, texting or snoring at the desk next to yours. Try to tune them out and focus on your work.

2. Don't get caught up in the issue of fairness. Life isn't fair. "People often say 'it's unfair that he gets away with doing nothing,' but at the end of the day, it really doesn't change anything," Robbins says. "By pointing out that it's not fair, we just make ourselves feel bad and the situation doesn't change. " Instead, focus on being the best that you can be. 

3. Decide who you want to be. "These tips are really all about behavior, but there's a more important question: Who do you want to show up as in your life? he says. "Think of the people you deeply admire, and what personal qualities make them admirable? Regardless of the practical implications of your actions, ask yourself how the 'Ideal You' would deal with the situation. You'll behave very differently with Chuck Norris as your role model then with Gandhi as your role mode." Sometimes, who you are as a person is more important in determining your actions than momentary concerns of a specific situation. 

4. Don't let it affect your attitude. If you waste your time and energy on being angry or annoyed about your lazy colleague, your work performance may start slipping and you may be less pleasant to be around. A hostile colleague is just as bad as a lazy one.

5. Don't tattle. That might make you look like an apple polisher, so don't do it. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't speak up. "This one is tricky," he warns. "It depends on the situation and the boss. Some bosses might say, 'Thanks for letting me know. I'll investigate,' while others may tell you, 'It's not your job to worry about your co-workers' performance.' It could make you look bad. But if you go your boss and say, 'I'm at a point where I can't go any further with this project because I'm waiting for Bill to finish his part. What can we do about this?' It gets the point across without your seeming like a tattler." If they explicitly ask you to review your co-workers' performance, you should be honest, Robbins suggests.

6. Don't let their ways rub off on you. Don't get sucked into their routine of two-hour lunch breaks and dozens of trips to the restroom or water cooler. If they start chatting with you, let them know you're busy. "It's tempting to follow their lead if they are getting away with it, but don't fall into that trap," he says.

7. Don't let their work become your responsibility. If you're on the same team or share the same responsibilities, don't pick up the work they aren't doing. Remind them of tasks and deadlines, but don't let babysitting your lazy colleagues consume too much of your valuable time.

8. Don't let them affect your success. A lazy colleague can hinder your progress. If your boss notices work isn't getting done, don't let the blame fall on you. This is your opportunity to speak up, if you haven't done so already.

9. Use the opportunity to become a leader. This may be your chance to really step up and prove you can deal with difficult situations. "When you go to your boss, tell him or her that you've noticed your colleague isn't getting their work done, so you would like the opportunity to be a leader. Then, approach your colleague and say you want to help him meet goals and deadlines. This frames you as a leader."

10. Don't gossip or complain to other colleagues. It's unprofessional. "You could cause misunderstandings and hurt feelings," Robbins says.

11. Communicate with your co-worker. He or she might not be lazy. Instead, they might be unclear of their tasks and deadlines. "be clear about goals, deadlines and commitments," Robbins suggests. "Sometimes it's not that they're lazy, it's that they don't have a good way of organizing their work or managing their time." There's always a chance that they're preoccupied with a personal matter, too. "We need to remember that life happens," he says. They could be distracted by a health issue or family problem.

12. Don't say yes to projects that require your co-worker to work at full capacity. if your co-worker is chronically lazy and nothing or no one - not you, not your boss - has been able to make a difference, proactively work this into how you plan, Robbins says. "When you're given a project where you'll have to depend on your lazy co-worker, factor their anticipated laziness into your schedule. Don't agree to a time frame that assumes they'll deliver," he adds. You can also use this an an opportunity to ask for more resources. "For example, you can say, 'Hey, boss, I'm afraid I won't be able to finish the project by June with the current resources.' You're boss might respond, 'But you have Bob.' Tell him, 'Yes, but given the pace of Bob's work, I don't think he can deliver what we'll need in the time frame we'll need it.' Best case, you'll get the resources you need. Worst case, you've implicitly raised the issue of Bob's performance with your boss in a non-aggressive way."


Do you see anyone familiar on your own house staff in the above type of situations, and how you could address the issue on your team in a positive, productive way?  Perhaps even sharing this article during your next staff meeting just might be enough to solve the problem or at least get the discussion started!

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