the lazy coworker — with Han and Matt Know It All

On the latest episode of the Ask a Manager podcast, I talked with Han and Matt of Han and Matt Know It All, which is a very fun and useful podcast about advice columns. We talked about all sorts of things, including what it’s like for them to do a podcast as spouses, and we answered several letters together, including one from someone who’s friends with a very lazy coworker and wondering if she has an obligation to intervene and one about diet talk at work. We also revisited the recent letter here from someone wondering whether to date his boss’s daughter.

It’s 33 minutes long, and you can listen on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever else you get your podcasts (or here’s the direct RSS feed). Or you can listen right here:

{ 21 comments… read them below }

  1. Persimmons

    Misread that at first as “the lady coworker” and was ready to pull up my lawn chair all “this gonna be good”.

  2. Detective Amy Santiago

    Alison – I don’t suppose you’ve gotten an update from the LW who was working for her dad’s girlfriend and being pressured into going to couples therapy with them?

      1. Detective Amy Santiago

        I think about her a lot. I hope she got out of there and is doing well.

  3. designbot

    First of all, I love that there’s a podcast just for and about those of us who are obsessed with advice columns. I’ve found my people!
    Also, I do think if you’re going to remain friends with the lazy coworker, you do sort of owe him a heads up that hey, I enjoy you as a person but your approach to work puts me in a difficult position. If it were anyone else I would’ve spoken up about this already but have dragged my feet because we’re friends, and I won’t be able to do that forever.

  4. Meredith Brooks

    So interesting. At my company we just had a whole “respect in the workplace” training. For the most part it was pretty straightforward, but then there was the section about the responsibilities of observers. In one example a coworker overhears another coworker mutter under their breath that 3rd coworker is a jerk. The training says the observer should act on the situation, either by talking to the coworkers, their manager, or HR. To me, that felt like an extreme response to what might be a heat of the moment situation and made worse by someone (not a manager) intervening.

    So this first letter and this feeling of obligation was ripe in my brain. I don’t feel that we as humans are ever obligated (either out of kindness or otherwise) to speak out in situations that don’t affect us. I know that’s probably an unpopular stance to take, but I also think by enforcing some kind of societal obligation on all the wrongs, leads to empathy/sympathy/philanthropic burnout. We should always be mindful and certainly not contribute to judgmental, divisive, or hateful behavior. But, I think in caring for ourselves and acknowledging the situations or issues we care deeply about and speaking out on their behalf, we offer greater support than doling out whatever meager resources we have to all. (This is also based on a belief that everyone has different interests, issues, or causes they support — so there’s not a lack of support going on… and also based on the belief that while I may strongly support a cause like homeless cats and dogs and devote my time to them, I’ll also donate $25 for a friend of a friend who’s walking against an illness.)

    1. I can help!

      “The training says the observer should act on the situation, either by talking to the coworkers, their manager, or HR.”

      The cynic in me says this is so when the company is faced with something legally actionable, they can spread the blame around to other people.

      1. Meredith Brooks

        Fair. I think my company wants to be seen as progressive, but doesn’t quite know how to get there and this is their way of espousing a type of bottom-up environment, though it’s pretty tone deaf. But, it’s still a company like any other, so yeah, it wouldn’t surprise me if this was somehow either in response to something that happened or a way to protect themself from something legally actionable in the future.

    2. Logan

      I think observance status should apply to harassment (of the sexual / racial / ageism / etc) types, and not quietly calling another employee names. Maybe the person was being a jerk at the time! Maybe the frustrated employee was referring to a family member or their computer. Even if the comment wasn’t ideal, I agree that it takes time to report things, and if someone reports on every little thing then they will likely burn out.

  5. a1

    I listened this morning and was expecting links to the original letters somewhere here. I suppose I can search for them myself, but sometimes I’m kind of lazy. :-D

  6. Antilles

    This was interesting, though just as a general thing, I always find it more interesting when the letter writers themselves are part of the back-and-forth. I just always think it’s really cool with the usual format to hear the letter writers themselves respond to Alison’s advice in ‘real time’, provide additional details and comment on what they do (or don’t?) feel okay with.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      There’s no transcript for last week since the episode was all about tone and is dependent on the audio to convey that. But transcripts will start posting again next week as normal.

  7. Bacon Pancakes

    Finally caught up on some podcasts and I am curious: have we gotten an update from the daughter whose dad and step-mom wanted her to go to couples counseling?

  8. Belle8bete

    I also prefer hearing from the writer because we can get more information and less speculation! Everyone seemed lovely but I felt like folks ended up restating each other’s points a lot which became a bit much…

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