Our department has been hit by some layoffs over the past year and we're running a skeleton crew. They got rid of most of our support staff. The remaining team members would rather worry about what others are doing rather than work as a team and figure out how to improve their own situations.

The one co-worker (who does network administration) spends long hours in the office. Part of it is due to the workload but another part of it is due to bad time management (his own fault and management). He'll walk past my desk and make snide remarks like "working hard?" and "do something". If I offer to help, he acts like he doesn't need it. He's kind of the insecure type and likes to do everything himself and then hold it over everyone else. I'm afraid he might end up burning out.

Another guy has been bitching about his workload. He spends as much time worrying about what others are doing than getting stuff done himself. He thinks he's too good for "grunt work" and wants to be a manager. When his plate is full, he makes sure everyone else knows it when he has to do get stuff done.

They're not bad guys but the stress seems to be getting to everyone. I'm the only one left who knows how to code so a lot of time is spent on programming projects but also have support duties. I can't get a whole lot done due to the interruptions. The guys in the office don't consider what I'm doing to be "work"....and seem to think that I should be helping them with support and not programming. So basically they think I'm supposed to work on IT support and then go back to the office to work on programming projects while they surf the internet. I don't whine and moan and complain like everyone else does so they assume that I don't have enough to do. So now I get to listen to snide remarks about my workload. Management likes my projects because they save the company money.

What is the best way to deal with this situation?

closed as off-topic by user40980, gnat, Ixrec, Bart van Ingen Schenau, user22815 Jan 18 '16 at 22:14

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I suggest you remember clearly who pays your paycheck, and cater to their needs. I'm not talking about "sucking up", but genuinely caring about how you can personally be most useful to them. Regarding the co-workers, patience and grace will take it a long way. If you take the high road, you will stand out in due time.

The company where I work has several competitors (financial software). Most of them focus on solving the problems of all the low level workers, and don't put a lot of focus on the high level management. We, on the other hand, make the software work well for the low level people, and really, really, really focus on making it flow for the CEO/CFO level.

The end result is that out of dozens of clients, the highest level of management at these companies cannot say enough good about us, and therefore recommend us, and pay us, and recommend us, and pay us, etc...

I recall reading a story very similar to this in the book "How to Win Friends and Influence People", about a man who rose above his (similar peers) to become the most trusted employee of the company. Wait, maybe it was "Seven Habits of Highly Effective People", but regardless, I'd read both if I were you.

  • So I should basically ignore the co-workers when they act like this? I read the Carnegie book and will check out the other one. – Lance Dec 11 '10 at 23:37
  • @Lance: Pretty much. If you think you do a good job and your management is happy, why care what anybody else thinks? I worked one summer during college in a factory that paid people crap, and most of the other workers had bad attitudes. For my own self-esteem, I just did the best job I could, despite occasional snide remarks about working too hard and showing everybody else up. When I left to go back to college, they put a note in my personnel file that I was an instant re-hire. I figure if programming ever dries up, I'll go back there and make collets. – Bob Murphy Dec 12 '10 at 2:25
  • Also, your co-workers might be jealous that your management is happy with you. If that's true, definitely ignore them unless they start doing things like sabotaging you. – Bob Murphy Dec 12 '10 at 2:28
  • I think there is some jealousy at play....and insecurity. Haven't really seen signs of sabatoge, but there is one guy that I think set me up a couple times. – Lance Dec 12 '10 at 3:40
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    "If you think you do a good job and your management is happy, why care what anybody else thinks?" I guess I have this idealistic view that we can all be a team, work together, and have fun. – Lance Dec 12 '10 at 3:42

My experience is that the perception that you're not getting anything done is just as (if not more) lethal to your job as not actually getting things done. It sounds to me like these people kept their jobs by creating that perception about other people thereby distracting attention from themselves. Don't let them do the same to you.

Don't forget to sell yourself. Make sure everyone knows about the work you're getting done. Be less modest than you normally are. And be assertive. If someone walks by your desk with a snide comment like "Working hard?", tell them to mind their own business.

And lastly, start sending out resumes. If things are this bad, there's a good chance your company will go out of business in the near future.

  • "It sounds to me like these people kept their jobs by creating that perception about other people thereby distracting attention from themselves." Hmmm, good point. There were some people in our group who were slackers but they are gone. I guess they're so used to having slackers on the team that they're not sure what to do now that the slackers are gone. – Lance Dec 12 '10 at 3:46
  • @Job - I like that response. The one guy who walks past my desk will keep walking even if I do respond but I havent' tired that one. Should I yell follow him to his desk and ask him if he needs help, or just ignore him? – Lance Dec 12 '10 at 3:51
  • @Lance, it is a polite game of chicken. One of the best ways to stop someone from bullying you is to show no signs of discomfort - they will grow tired and bored of it. Following someone to their desk means that you have come down to their level. You do not want that. They might hate you for it - not good; they might decide that you are one of their own, and spill some beans about some other lazy asshole that you obviously do not want. It is hard to say why someone walks by your desk all the time. I think politely ignoring that person and playing it by the ear is the best bet. – Job Dec 12 '10 at 4:21
  • @Lance (follow-up) You simply want them to stop annoying you. Of course you do not want them quietly hating you either, but neither showing too much weakness, nor reacting aggressively would help. The strategy is best adjusted based on the person's unique way of being difficult (hence my link to a book), but in general the approach can be summed up as a modified tit-for-tat. You try to cooperate (be nice and forgiving) at first. If they still act to annoy you (they might not know it), then you need to push back intelligently. How exactly is hard to say - depends on details, but don't lose cool – Job Dec 12 '10 at 4:27
  • @Job, he walks past my desk because he has to walk past my desk when he leaves his office. have another co-worker who likes to push buttons and will have to try this. Ignoring him doesn't work and neither does overreacting. I think part of the problem is lack of appreciation by management. These guys don't feel appreciated by management or the end users, and are looking for attention. The thing is I'm a not a manager and I don't get paid to babysit. Thanks for the suggestions! – Lance Dec 12 '10 at 18:23

Don't care what other guys say. Talk to your boss and consider changing your job to a dedicated role with specific responsibility.

  • +1 for not caring what the other guys say. – Gary Rowe Dec 11 '10 at 23:27
  • "dedicated role with specific responsibility." It's a corporate environment so that would be a longshot since all branches are structured the same way. – Lance Dec 11 '10 at 23:36
  • @Lance I have work in many corporate and I have never that kind of problem. Maybe it's company specific. – Amir Rezaei Dec 11 '10 at 23:45
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    I don't think this is good advice. Don't let what others are saying get to you. But also don't kid yourself into thinking that what the others are doing doesn't have a political impact. – Jason Baker Dec 12 '10 at 0:46
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    @Lance, moving to a place that is somewhat of an IT hub (and can provide opportunities for a partner, if there is one) can be better for your career(s) in the long term. If this is to be done at all, then sooner in life is better than later. – Job Dec 12 '10 at 3:23

Life is too short to spend it in a miserable environment. Even in this economy, there are great companies out there dying to get a hold of talented people.

  • Yeah but none that are close to where I live. :( I don't live in an area with a lot of tech jobs. I would either have to move or long commute each way. – Lance Dec 11 '10 at 23:38
  • @Lance - Don't rule out telecommuting. – Andrew Hare Dec 12 '10 at 0:54
  • @Lance So your company has you by the you-know-whats? All the more reason to do something about it. – JP Alioto Dec 12 '10 at 2:41
  • All you need to do your job is an internet connection. This career is like being a carpenter, or a bartender, or, a mercenary. Move man! You can code in that environment, you are an asset. "This economy" need you! Where do you want to live? – chiggsy Dec 12 '10 at 4:53
  • @JP: That's one way to put it. :) Telecommuting gigs are hard to come by so I'd likely have to move which I'm not sure about....but I don't want to wait too long. – Lance Dec 12 '10 at 18:26