This site explores scenarios of corporate dysfunction that can derail your career. The Navigator provides guidance of how to advance your career despite these obstacles.

A co-worker confides in me that they are resigning in a month and does no work

A Reader Writes:

I and another co-worker were given 3 months to complete a big project.  I had worked with her in the past and we always managed to divide up the work equally and efficiently between us.  This time is different.  After the first 4 weeks, she has contributed incomplete or incorrect parts of the project, as well as not being that responsive.  When I asked her for an explanation, she confided in me that she will give notice in a month because she has another position lined up, but that I should not tell our boss.  This puts me in a bind.  There is no way I can complete the project myself and my reputation is threatened.  If I ask my boss to get me a new project partner, I will have to tell her why and divulge information I was asked not to.

Dear Reader,

Your situation is somewhat better than a project partner who does not tell you that they plan on leaving, they just stop helping you without explanation, a fairly common situation.  Doing the right thing here is clear: Your obligation is to your organization who pays your salary to complete projects to run a business. Your co-worker has the same obligation that must be fulfilled through her very last day of employment at the company.  Say to her: “I wish you a lot of success at your new company next month, but I need your help because I will continue working here and want this project to succeed.  If you can’t turn around the deliverables I need in the next week or so, you will need to go to our boss and remove yourself from the project so our boss can find another partner for me.  If you can’t do that I will need to go to our boss to ask for ways to salvage the project.”

the NavigatorA co-worker confides in me that they are resigning in a month and does no work
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A senior manager makes remarks about my appearance every time I enter their office

A Reader Writes:

As an IT support tech in my company, I visit many senior manager offices to fix their equipment.  While in their offices, most managers make small talk with me while I am working on their problem. One particular senior manager always makes remarks about my appearance with such things like “those slacks are so slimming on you!” or “what have you changed in your diet to look so good today!”  I get so angry at her that I want to go to HR and complain, but she is the head of HR.  How can I get her to stop?

Dear Reader,

The Navigator would like to challenge the two assumptions in your question. First, reporting things to HR is not an effective strategy to improving your employee experience. The Navigator’s views on this are well known:  Human Resources are not your advocate.  They are an agency of the company.  Involving HR in most circumstances should only be considered after you have tried many different approaches at your disposal to remedy a situation.   Your second assumption is that leaders in an org chart are more appropriate in their people skills than those with lesser titles.  If any example is to be learned here, it is that you have been shown how not to treat other employees.  When you one day become a leader, you will treat people with respect and bring out the best in them.

Next time the Head of HR says a patronizing remark to you (and no one else is around), calmly say “I know you are well-intentioned when you remark on my appearance, but I am not comfortable with it.  Maybe we could talk about other things as I get your laptop up to speed?”

Even if she responds defensively, she will hesitate to do it in the future.

the NavigatorA senior manager makes remarks about my appearance every time I enter their office
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