What to do about a nosy co-worker?

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Posted 1/23/2013 by wendy.merrill in NSBR Board
 

wendy.merrill
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Posted: 1/23/2013 5:32:28 PM
The co-worker I share a cube with is constantly looking at my screen, asking me what I'm doing/where I'm going. Like it's her job to be my babysitter (it isn't, she's not a lead or supervisor).
A while back our actual supervisor (who doesn't work in our building) counseled me on being late and taking long lunches. His exact words were "I've received some troubling information" (ie. someone tattled). I will admit that I'm that person that's always running behind and it's not uncommon for me to rush in 5-10 minutes late. I don't think it's okay and I don't make excuses, but I do try to be on time.
It's very rare that I take a long lunch and if I do and I feel like it's pushing it, I take leave.
I'm almost positive that my it's my cube mate told- she really went overboard on "Who would do that?!" when I told her. The problem is this girl is always leaving early. And every time I turn around, she's on facebook chatting with her daughter. Not that I'm being nosy, but facebook is pretty easy to spot.
Some days we are best buds and others she's cold to me and I really feel like she's observing me for her report.
I don't like to be fake and I really don't care to be her friend. But she is best friends with our lead and could really make my life miserable here. I wonder should I say something? Or just put up with it? She's retiring in 4 years. I don't know if I can take it that long.

Gsquaredmom

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Posted: 1/23/2013 6:03:50 PM
The only thing YOU can do is be punctual and do your job well.

Since she is best friends with the boss, if you say anything about her behavior, you are the troublemaker, especially since there is some validity to her observations. No matter what YOU say, it will sound petty and whiney---you are in a no-one situation.

What she does is her business. She will get what's coming to her eventually.

You need to set your watch 15 minutes fast. Leave a minute late for lunch and come back a couple minutes early. The error of the clock should always be on your side if you care about the impression you are making.



voltagain
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Posted: 1/23/2013 6:14:06 PM
She may not be an official lead or supervisor. But she very well may be that unofficially. Her message has been heard loud and clear by your supervisor.

You aren't going to win a "get even match" with her any time soon. First clean up your act. NEVER be late for any reason. Get in the habit of getting in 15 minutes early and cutting lunch short. There is no "try" in being on time. You either are or are not on time. Both are habits.

Right now you are easily scamming your boss out of an hour a week pay if not two hours a week with your tardyness.


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Posted: 1/23/2013 6:18:26 PM
An employee who is regularly 10-15 minutes late or going over the lunch break time wouldn't be employed very long in many of the companies I've worked. You should be happy that you've only been "counseled" on your chronic tardiness. Until you clean up your act, I don't think you are in a position to complain about another co-worker.

Sorry if that seems harsh, but chronic tardiness communicates a lack of respect for your employer, and sloppy work habits, and is something I've never been particularly forgiving of.


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Posted: 1/23/2013 7:21:20 PM



She may not be an official lead or supervisor. But she very well may be that unofficially. Her message has been heard loud and clear by your supervisor.

You aren't going to win a "get even match" with her any time soon. First clean up your act. NEVER be late for any reason. Get in the habit of getting in 15 minutes early and cutting lunch short. There is no "try" in being on time. You either are or are not on time. Both are habits.

Right now you are easily scamming your boss out of an hour a week pay if not two hours a week with your tardyness.


YOU need to be early every day, and take no more than your allotted time for lunch. ALWAYS. Mind your ps and qs.

Once you behave as an exemplary employee, then document everything she is doing. On facebook? Time and date. Leaves early? Time and date. Excessive personal calls? Time and date. Document, document. You will thn have an ace up your sleeve with regards to Miss Nosy Boots.

And there is no "try" to be on time. You leave home early, early, early if you have to, no excuses.


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wendy.merrill
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Posted: 1/23/2013 7:46:18 PM
Thanks for the responses. I know that I should be on time, I've never thought it was unreasonable to expect that. And the long lunches aren't an issue. Like I said, I take leave there.
I actually meant, say something to her. I would never tattle on another employee. That's just not my thing.
I wouldn't have an issue her tattling if she were also minding her ps and qs.

Gsquaredmom

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Posted: 1/23/2013 8:17:42 PM
I take leave there.
-------------------------------

But that is CYA after the fact and assumes she knows you are taking leave time. The perception that you are giving to people is what you have to control.

Tattling? This is not second grade. Don't assume because you would say nothing that someone else will not. She has likely been told by her friend to "keep an eye on you."

Change the impression you are giving others---change your work behavior---or YOU will be on the outside looking in. I don't want to sound harsh, but it is SO cut and dry to most of us here. No matter how you try to justify or be honest about your timeliness, it does not matter. You are giving the impression that this is something to worry about with you.

What you are doing now is not working for you. Change what you are doing.



Nyxish
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Posted: 1/23/2013 8:20:32 PM
Really, i don't see why it wouldn't be your thing to "tattle" on an employee who is taking jabs at your job, if she is legitimately doing something wrong. If you don't want to do that - ok, that's fine. But since you don't really have proof she's the one who said something, and she's the supervisor's BFF... i don't think there is anything you can say to her that won't make things harder for you... you know she won't have any problems.


Sucks.





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Gynergy
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Posted: 1/23/2013 8:34:22 PM
I agree with what others have posted -- follow the guidelines of your employer to the letter and don't give her anything to "tattle" about.

And I also recommend keeping what I call a CYA file regarding any of the (now extremely rare) occasions you must be late (kid is sick, huge pile up on interstate, etc.) -- ex: "arrived at work at 8:07 due to pile up on I-20 so worked until 5:10 to ensure I worked a full 8 hours." Then if anyone says anything to you about those rare occasions, you have documentation about how you ensured that you didn't cheat your employer of any work time (though they still may discipline you for being late).

As hard as it will likely be, focus on yourself and your job and try to be pleasant but not too personal with your cube mate. Good luck!


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wendy.merrill
BucketHead

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Posted: 1/23/2013 8:45:38 PM
Thanks again for the harsh comments. No, really. I guess that's a bit of an eye opener for me. In the area I worked before no one cared that I came in early (at first I did) and everyone else (not everyone but a lot) came in late and it wasn't uncommon for even the supervisors to take long lunches. I quite willingly settled into that mode. This area is different.
I can see that taking leave after coming back from late from lunch would appear that I am covering my butt. I never saw it that way but I can see now how others would.

I actually did document that she left early today just because today was a particularly "cold" day for her. Guess that means I better get my butt out of the house early tomorrow!

I still have a problem with her hovering over my computer screen but I suppose that's just something I'll have to live with. At least until I continually mind my ps and qs.

scrapbookwriter
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Posted: 1/23/2013 9:14:23 PM
I agree that you need to come in on time - but I also wonder if it might be possible to change cubicles and cubemates?

Annabella
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Posted: 1/23/2013 9:31:48 PM
Can you get a privacy screen? If not, make a joke out of it, don't go online for an entire day so whenever she comes over it's always when you're doing something work related they crack a joke "why are you always hovering over my screen"




Rhondito
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Posted: 1/23/2013 10:50:48 PM
If you weren't habitually late then she wouldn't have anything to report to your supervisor. It's your fault you got counseled, not her's.


Rhonda



benem
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Posted: 1/23/2013 11:26:29 PM
OP I am on your side.

I am late to work pretty much every day. No one cares. We have flex time. If I come in 15 min late I stay 15 min late to make it up.

My boss starts at 10 am so she doesn't even know when I come in.

I can't imagine anyone here being so petty.

That said, it seems like you work for people who watch the clock and I agree with the other posters. All you can do is make sure you are there on time or a bit early and that lunch is within your allotted time allowed. If you need to take a longer lunch you might need to email your boss that you will be gone longer but are taking leave to compensate.

I think I once worked for soneone who got bent out of shape if anyone was 5 minutes late. It was indicative of being wrapped pretty tight in far too many areas. Obviously I did not stay there very long.

Your best defense is to be the best and most productive employee you can be.


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fishwitch
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Posted: 1/24/2013 12:55:16 AM
All of these responses have been spot on. This really struck me as a great piece of advice.


he fact she is less than a nose to the grindstone employee is completely irrelevant. You need to be that kind of employee because she is on the lookout for you not to be. Sorry. After a month or so of strict adherence to work activities and punctuality, you could ask her "why do you ask me so many questions about what I'm doing? It's very distracting." At some point you can perhaps voice your concern to your boss, that her peering at your screen and interrogating you is distracting and breaks your concentration.



As for the tardiness. I have zero tolerance for that. On time doesn't mean walking in at the time you're scheduled to begin work. On time means that you're reading and starting work at the time you're scheduled to begin work. All the other crap - getting coffee, putting purse away, etc - that needs to be done BEFORE your scheduled work day begins.


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pjaye
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Posted: 1/24/2013 1:53:34 AM
You cannot assume it is her.
Unless you are the only two in the office then you have no idea who is responsible for passing on information about you.
You may think other people don't notice things but they do.
As a manager for many years, lots of people that you would never expect were the ones who came running to me with complaints about their co-workers.
It may be the person who you are friendly with, or it could be someone you barely speak to.
You target her in some way and it's NOT her, then you suddenly have a much bigger issue on your hands.

The only person you are in control of is you - don't give them anything to report on you for and the problem is solved.

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Posted: 1/24/2013 8:54:53 AM
You've gotten a lot of good feedback. If she is close with the boss, it would cross my mind that the boss put her up to this. Maybe.


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Posted: 1/24/2013 9:07:04 AM
Even though my boss is friends with X, she will ask me regularly if I saw her come in late. I'm not going to lie and cover for someone I'm not friends with.




JnJsMom16
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Posted: 1/24/2013 9:32:36 AM
I agree you should be on time and not give her anything to talk about. I recently read that instead of saying you have to be somewhere at a specific time that you need to know what time you need to leave the house. so, instead of being at work at 8 you need to leave by 730. by having the leaving time planned out being on time will be easy


Kimber

benem
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Posted: 1/24/2013 9:39:40 AM

On time doesn't mean walking in at the time you're scheduled to begin work. On time means that you're reading and starting work at the time you're scheduled to begin work. All the other crap - getting coffee, putting purse away, etc - that needs to be done BEFORE your scheduled work day begins.


Holy crap, talk about clenched too tight. Is it ok if people pee after they get there? Or do they have to wait for their 15 minute "break" so you are not paying them for the time it takes to void the bladder?

Once I worked for a group of magazines that had recently been bought by a company with its HQ in Michigan. Since we were on deadlines of course we all frequently stayed late or worked weekends (unpaid) to make deadlines.

The Art Dept found out that the new HQ had instructed our HR lady to walk over to our dept at 8:30 and report back the them who was not in yet. Really? All the nights and weekends we worked to make deadlines and they did this? So obnoxious.

My boss countered by walking around at 8:25, turning on computers and moving chairs around if you weren't there.

Of course they are out of business now.



wendy.merrill
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Posted: 1/24/2013 10:04:44 AM
Thanks benem, glad I'm not the only one! That's sort of how it's always worked here (in my old group at least), working flex time to make up for being late.
BUT, I do agree that it's important to be on time. It wouldn't seem like I do, but truly I do. In fact, happy to report I walked in on time today! Might have had something to do with yesterday's comments.
Also, the coffee, purse, bathroom thing is not an issue here. It is a fairly laid back office environment. I'm positive no one here would have a problem with that. Unless, you were getting coffee, etc. all day long.
It's also not frowned upon to use the internet during down time. BUT some do have a point, I shouldn't give her more ammo regardless if she's on it all day long or not.
So, that being said, I'm done peaing for the (work) day. Have a great day and thanks again for all the suggestions.

One more thing:


I recently read that instead of saying you have to be somewhere at a specific time that you need to know what time you need to leave the house. so, instead of being at work at 8 you need to leave by 730. by having the leaving time planned out being on time will be easy


I like this and might have to do this to continue to be on time, thanks!

fishwitch
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Posted: 1/24/2013 10:30:57 AM

Holy crap, talk about clenched too tight. Is it ok if people pee after they get there? Or do they have to wait for their 15 minute "break" so you are not paying them for the time it takes to void the bladder?


Not really when you consider the environments I've worked in - accounting where we had to bill by the hour and every minute had to be accounted for. And now an hourly situation where I have one person scheduled to leave at 2pm and another to come on at 2pm. If the person coming on walks in the door and then dallies getting ready to be on the floor, I can't loose that person leaving at 2 until I have the replacement - so I'm paying 2 people for 10 that I should only be paying one person for that 10 minutes to be productive. Sure it's not that strict in many office type situations, but it's a good practice to have.


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hillhouse6
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Posted: 1/24/2013 11:09:50 AM
I have employees at my store. Of course I like for them to be on time and dressed for our enviornment. That said, when an employee has "tattled" on another employee SEVERAL times, I also take a good look at the "tattler". Are they a team player? Why are they trying to shift my focus to negatives about someone? In the end, I try to evaluate if the work is getting done and are my customers needs and wants being met. If one of the employees are not meeting those standards, then we talk.

Peppermintpatty
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Posted: 1/24/2013 11:56:59 AM

As for the tardiness. I have zero tolerance for that. On time doesn't mean walking in at the time you're scheduled to begin work. On time means that you're reading and starting work at the time you're scheduled to begin work. All the other crap - getting coffee, putting purse away, etc - that needs to be done BEFORE your scheduled work day begins.


Holy crap, if I wouldn't last 2 minutes in a place like that! My job is super flexible. I come in anywhere between 7 and 7:10 and leave anywhere between 2 and 4 depending on the day and I don't watch it down to the minute.

Do you have to punch out to pee?





Free~Bird
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Posted: 1/24/2013 12:28:35 PM
I had the opposite problem. I had an employer that would steal time from ME. I couldn't walk in the door until 2 min before the scheduled work time because if I came in to get settled, they expected me to answer phones... but I didn't get paid for that time. I even had to go and sit in my car to eat my lunch because they'd ask me to answer phones on my lunch break (break table was 10 feet from my desk.

I even went as far to move my car out of the parking lot around the corner so they wouldn't see me out there.

OP, I'll say what everyone else says, be there, be on time, keep your nose clean. I'll also add, suck up to the nosy one a bit and maybe she'll step up off of you.

I'd also consider getting a privacy screen and saying that your eye doctor told you it would help with your eye strain.


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Posted: 1/24/2013 12:48:15 PM

Holy crap, talk about clenched too tight. Is it ok if people pee after they get there? Or do they have to wait for their 15 minute "break" so you are not paying them for the time it takes to void the bladder?



Another scenario...I have a chronically late coworker. We are supposed to be ready to go by 8:45 and she rarely, rarely ever makes it there before 9:15. So every single day I get to do her work and mine too. How fair is that? Once in a while I'd be happy to cover for her in a friendly manner. I'm not generous enough to do half an hour of her three hour shift every single day. I expect her to be ready to work at 8:45 just like the rest of us.

peasful1
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Posted: 1/24/2013 1:03:11 PM
"Hey lady, I found your nose! It's in my business."


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jjpswife
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Posted: 1/24/2013 1:20:45 PM
1) I think you've gotten some excellent advice here.

2) I think you've taken it like a freakin' champ!!! Kudos!

3) I think a privacy screen is a great idea.

I say that because I have a job that allows the kind of flexibility where if I have a few minutes and I'm caught up on my work, I can look at NBC News or see what's going on here. But I'm in an office and no one can see my screen.

If you are in that type of job where this kind of thing is allowed and not frowned upon, I think you should be able to take advantage, responsibly, of course, of that perk of your job. I don't necessarily love the idea of your cubicle mate ruining that aspect of your job for you.

Hang in there!!



scrapmaven
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Posted: 1/24/2013 1:58:36 PM
If your co-worker is friends w/the boss then you might be screwed there. Keep your nose really clean. As others have said, be on time every single day, w/o fail. Lunches should be finished by the alloted time allowed. What does I take leave mean in regards to lunch? Be the model employee. I don't think you have much choice here. It sucks.


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Posted: 1/24/2013 2:29:25 PM

I recently read that instead of saying you have to be somewhere at a specific time that you need to know what time you need to leave the house. so, instead of being at work at 8 you need to leave by 730. by having the leaving time planned out being on time will be easy


I'm not usually a late person (Thanks, Dad!!). But I use this technique every morning. I know that if I don't walk out of my house by 7:10, I will get stuck behind 2 school buses that stop at every. friggin. corner. That means I'll get to daycare at 7:30 and then I won't have time to stop for coffee because the highway usually starts to back up by 7:35. I don't even entertain "I need to be at work by 8".


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Posted: 1/24/2013 3:52:04 PM
"I had the opposite problem. I had an employer that would steal time from ME. I couldn't walk in the door until 2 min before the scheduled work time because if I came in to get settled, they expected me to answer phones... but I didn't get paid for that time. I even had to go and sit in my car to eat my lunch because they'd ask me to answer phones on my lunch break (break table was 10 feet from my desk. "

You do realize that's against the law right?
Holy cow, the fine they would have gotten if you'd have turned them into the Labor Relations Board


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gar
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Posted: 1/24/2013 4:00:23 PM

I recently read that instead of saying you have to be somewhere at a specific time that you need to know what time you need to leave the house. so, instead of being at work at 8 you need to leave by 730. by having the leaving time planned out being on time will be easy



I also work this way. It's much more helpful and successful I find


Today, I will be colouring outside the lines.

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