A Shared Employee

Category: Newsletters Published on Oct 25 2016

Dear Karen,


I have an employee who does tasks for both me and another person in the company. Lately both of us have been dissatisfied with her performance. Frequently, I think that she is working on a project for me and later find out it has not been started. My coworker has been having similar issues. What can we do?


Dear Jordan,


The experience you describe is not unusual when you have one person that has tasks delegated to them from multiple people. Having been in this position myself early in my career, I know how challenging it can be when you have multiple people all asking you to do things and all wanting them at the same time. Sometimes it is impossible to meet everyone’s deadlines.


The first step in remedying this situation is for one person (let’s assume it’s you) to be responsible for helping the employee (let’s name her Pat) prioritize the tasks assigned. At the same time, Pat should be charged with the responsibility of promptly sharing potential conflicts with you.


Note that all other aspects of Pat’s job remain the same. The only thing that is changing is how Pat decides what should be done first. For now, you will guide her in appropriately prioritizing her duties. You will also act as an example of what she will eventually be doing on her own, so be sure to use this time with her as a teaching opportunity.


Once this structure is established, you will be in a better position to judge if the issue has been resolved. If so, make Pat independent by switching to reviewing her decisions and then just being available as needed.


If work is still not getting done, you may have a different problem. The next step would be to assess if you are expecting Pat to accomplish too much in the time allotted or if perhaps she doesn’t have the necessary skills, knowledge, or abilities to complete the job.


Good luck!