Q. I work on a lot of projects in a group. One of my colleagues is always late with her part, and often doesn’t do it correctly at all. This reflects badly on all of us, which is making my blood boil. What can I do?
A. You could handle this directly with her, the team or your boss.
One might consider Solomon and Co.’s advice for the first option. Proverbs 18:9 states, “One who is slack in his work is a brother to one who destroys.” Your colleague’s shoddy work is beyond aggravating. It’s a cancer for your team and unjust to your employer. Her failures diminish your personal and collective reputations and can even jeopardize your professional future.
Sirach 33:22 reminds us to “Excel in all that you do.” Your standard of excellence is humanly and spiritually commendable. Therefore you’re on solid ground to confidently approach her straightforwardly. And soon. Don’t tackle the whole problem with all its ugly history. Target the next or most recent incident and act.
Approach her as a friend. “A pleasant voice multiplies friends and softens enemies, and a gracious tongue multiplies courtesies,” (Sirach 6:5). Point out the incident and ask if you can help. Find out what’s going on. Rehearse what you might say in a comfortable setting. Your goal is love, and the Lord of love will give you just the right approach and words. Keep in mind that she may simply lack the skill or training her tasks require. Procrastination and incompetence are often kissin’ cousins.
If she values wisdom, she’ll listen and you’ve gained a friend and perhaps a solution.
But it may not be that pretty…
Don’t be shocked if she reacts defensively. Only lovers of wisdom actually appreciate correction. “The beginning of wisdom is the most sincere desire for instruction.” (Wisdom 6:17). If she rejects your input, go to your boss or your teammates with your concern.
“Do nothing without deliberation; and when you have acted do not regret it” (Sirach 32:19). You can’t control the outcome, but if you follow the Bible’s ancient counsel, you can be at peace regardless – with lower blood pressure to boot.
Jim Berlucchi is the executive director of the Spitzer Center, whose mission is to build cultures of evangelization (www.spitzercenter.org).