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How do we ask our employees to focus only on their own work?

Study guide

Having exemplary, committed and hard-working employees is essential for the development of any manager and company. These employees can have a huge impact on their work goals, the workplace and even their co-workers. But if an employee works too hard and even goes so far as to take on the duties of others, will he still satisfy his boss? Join us to explore how to deal with such employees with a real example and expert answers to this question.

Alison Green writes about work issues and management. He answers questions about this on One of the readers of the website asked the following question and then Green guided him.


I have an exemplary and versatile employee named Sarah who offers interesting and practical solutions with her creative mind. The problem is that he sometimes does things for others and responds, “I think it was easier for me,” or in his humorous language, he says his only intention was to do the right thing.

I have seen him several times while performing the duties of others. Sometimes I even find that Sarah is late in completing tasks that have a delivery deadline of the coming weeks. I asked him the reason for his behavior, and again I was faced with the same answer: “I was so busy that I thought I would do all the other things.” Some time later, I find out that Sarah is indirectly complaining about working on multiple projects. Also, if someone enters our office and has a question, even though I am the manager, they want to answer the client’s questions sooner than I do.

I have already tried to talk to him about this with such care and obsession that it does not offend such a great employee; But the outcome of the negotiations was not very good. He listened to me talk, then cried and said he would change his schedule and no longer work on any additional projects. Nevertheless, after 2 or 3 weeks, it was the same soup and the same bowl again.

Recently, this issue has become more acute. When I was talking to my boss about a project I was working on, Sarah would constantly jump in between my conversations or respond to my boss instead. Within minutes, he persuaded my boss to adopt a different approach to the way I was working; This was while he had no participation in that project. At that moment, I said, “I have been working on this project for 3 weeks. We only have one day to deliver the work to the employer. Obviously, you know better what is right and you know the needs of the customer. “So why aren’t you doing this?” And I left the room. Maybe it would have been better not to leave the meeting, but seeing such encounters from Sarah, in the presence of my boss, had upset me.

The rest of the day, Sarah kept saying, “I don’t know where to start. “The delivery of the project is for tomorrow.” I went home earlier than office hours and could not help. I know I did not behave properly as a manager; But I really wanted Sarah to understand the consequences of her behavior. The next day, when the project was handed over, he said he had a headache and asked for leave. We used the same things I did in 3 weeks. The next day, Sara came to work and acted as if nothing had happened.

What is your advice on how to deal with such an employee?


This is a great example of how managers need to deal directly with work issues when needed. Sometimes such situations become so complicated that if they had been dealt with explicitly earlier, such things would never have happened.

Your behavior in the last situation you had with your employee was not appropriate. I guess you intentionally put your employee in a position to defeat him. You showed him that there is no sense of responsibility in this matter (he was allowed to take himself out of the situation and behave as if it never happened) and it probably seems that he is in front of the boss. You are poorly seen. Your departure with your obvious dissatisfaction with that negotiation was not good behavior.

I fully understand your dissatisfaction with that situation, but the one who can fix it is you. There is no point in getting angry when you have an easier, clearer and calmer solution. This is exactly what happens when managers do not solve employees’ problems properly: they have the power to solve such a problem much earlier, but they go so far as to become very upset and lose their cool.

Well, you have to solve this issue. The solution is to talk decisively with your employee about right and wrong situations. If he reacts emotionally, you should not back down.

In a quiet place, sit next to him and say, “We have already talked about interrupting others or doing the work of co-workers without prior coordination. You’ve been following these things for a few weeks, but I see again that the same thing is happening again. For your own success and, of course, relationships with colleagues, we need to find a solution. The last time we talked, I thought we had reached an agreement. “Is there something I do not know about?”

If he gets emotional and starts crying, don’t let him impress you. Ask him out well if he is no longer absorbed in the connection. Ask him out well if he is no longer absorbed in the connection. Give him a handkerchief, pour him a glass of water, or do anything that makes him feel important, and then continue your conversation.

If he says again that he will not do anything outside of his duties, tell him, “This is not what I want. My request is that you no longer do the work of other employees; Because it weakens the morale of others and may disrupt our workflow. I just want you to focus on your tasks. I welcome your desire to gain new experiences in your field; “But my request is that you do not fall into the category of tasks assigned to others.”

By the way, I think it would be better to think more about describing Sarah as an “exemplary employee.” If an exemplary employee is told to stop doing the work of his co-workers, he does not say anything that offends them; Or if they can not complete a project, they do not take leave and do not behave as if you saw a camel, did not see! Exemplary employees are certainly not without flaws, but the general rule is that they listen to feedback and work to improve performance.

At the moment, Sarah is not an exemplary employee. By avoiding this important conversation with him, you have done nothing to help the situation or your employee (and ultimately, your anger about it made it happen). If you express your views to him on this subject and the changes that need to take place in a calm, frank conversation, in a kind but firm tone, and you can commit him to what he promises, you will do him a great favor.

Do you have similar experience in this field? If you had such an employee or were in Sarah’s position, what would you consider appropriate?




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