'Help! My lazy coworker watches Netflix all day --  but she's the boss' daughter'

Ask the Insider columnist Ashley Lutz answers all your work-related questions, including the awkward, sensitive, and real-world ones. Have a question? Email [email protected]

Dear Insider,

I work in a small office, around 10 employees. There are four of us in an administrator role in an open office floor plan. Last year our manager “Linda” hired her daughter “Stacy” to help out on a temporary basis which turned into a full-time job when one of the admins was let go.

Stacy is lazy. She watches Netflix or plays puzzles while she’s “working.” She constantly calls out “Mum!” all day long across the room to ask Linda what to do next when we have a task flow management software that keeps track of our to-do list. She doesn’t check her email. She keeps her headphones in all day and does not answer the phone.

Her mistakes make us other admins look bad to the owner and they are constant. Her completed projects are full of mistakes. She is rude to her mum and argumentative in a teenage way (she is 20 and lives at home, this is her first professional job). Any attempts to teach her our processes and about the office have been rebuffed. It is more like she is Linda’s personal assistant than a team player.

Her mum said to just give her back tasks when they are wrong but that slows us down during our busy season and sometimes there are so many mistakes we don’t catch them all. The owner apparently had seen her watching Netflix and commented to us that he was surprised she could still do work. That was two months ago and we believe her mum may have told her to stop, but she still does it.

The other admin and I are stressed and not sure how to bring this up. We get upset when we constantly find her mistakes and she takes no initiative to not make them again. We would be reprimanded if we were on Netflix all day. Is there a way to bring this up without it seeming like we are snitching? We would not be allowed to get away with the things she does. The last admin was let go for less.


Covering for my boss’ daughter


Dear Covering:

The hassle you describe is a reason many big companies have policies against nepotism. Even if your boss’ daughter were the best admin on the team, it would 0nly be human for others to feel resentment or wonder if there were overt favoritism at play.

On top of this already-fraught situation, this girl sounds like a nightmare to work with. Confronting her incompetence would be difficult to navigate no matter who she was. Now you risk alienating your boss if you do so.

Because she’s the offspring of another employee and not the owner, the best approach here is to (mostly) behave as you would if she weren’t the offspring of your supervisor.

Office expert Lynn Taylor recently gave Business Insider some great advice on dealing with slackers in the office. She says to take the person in question to lunch and gently explain how their behaviour is affecting the team. You could say something like, “Stacy, you are great at completing projects quickly. But watching Netflix at work has become a distraction to the rest of the team.”

You should also change the way you deliver feedback. Instead of simply correcting her mistakes and resenting it, take a bit of time to explain what she did wrong. If she sends you the report with the same mistake, tell her you can’t accept the work until it is fixed. If your supervisor wants to know where the report is, explain what happened.

Separately, I would talk to your supervisor and say something complimentary about her daughter. Then explain the issues with her work. Try to keep the language as neutral as possible. Say something like “Linda, I wanted to give you a heads-up that I noticed Stacy makes the same three errors on many of her reports and I have talked to her about it. I also talked to her about watching Netflix at work because it has become distracting to the team.”

If things don’t improve after you’ve confronted the right people, I would tactfully have a conversation with the owner. Because he or she is paying this person, they should know about a toxic situation affecting productivity.

Ashley Lutz is a senior editor at Business Insider answering all your questions about the workplace. Send your queries to [email protected] for publication on Business Insider. Requests for anonymity will be granted, and questions may be edited.

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