Your career dilemmas answered by experts
Q: A colleague is always late because of his commute to work. I know it’s a pain for him, but it’s also a real pain for me and a couple of others in the team. He is often late for meetings, which can be problematic, and it puts greater pressure on us to address work as it comes in. I know it’s not his fault, but it’s not fair on us. Our manager seems to think we have to just grin and bear it. What can we do?
A: Your colleague is probably also frustrated by the delays, replies Jo Causon, director of marketing and corporate affairs at the Chartered Management Institute. But he may be unaware that others share his frustrations. Talking to him about the problem is the first step towards resolving it. Relationships with colleagues should centre on mutual respect, so if you can demonstrate a desire to understand the issue, you are more likely to get a positive response. And if you explain the problem in terms of the impact it has on everyone, he is more likely to want to try and remedy the situation.
You could make suggestions to your manager about how the team can adapt to work around the problem. You need to show that your colleague’s late arrivals are having a negative impact on overall performance and morale, but rather than present the situation as a problem, approach your manager with solutions. Whatever idea you come up with, make sensure it is realistic and can be applied to the whole team. Is it feasible for your manager to introduce flexitime? Or perhaps team meetings could be arranged for later in the day?
You need to show a willingness to help everyone. That means understanding your colleague’s problem and supporting your manager by providing ideas that he or she is comfortable with.
Commuting has an impact on the individual and their colleagues, so you are right to want to address the issue. However, your manager may have reasons for his or her approach, about which you are unaware. So when you raise the matter, talk through your ideas and make sure you sound positive.