How do I help my workmate perform better at work?

Friday April 10 2020

Caroline Mboijana

Caroline Mboijana 

By Caroline Mboijana

I have a workmate who is incompetent. She asks for my help with everything and I don’t mind helping. I keep wondering how she got the job because she is clearly not qualified enough. How can I help her without doing her work for her but also not reporting her incompetence which might cause her to lose the job? Sheila

Dear Sheila,
It’s commendable that you want to support your workmate as she struggles through the delivery of her work.
If your workmate is newly appointed, she may not necessarily be incompetent, but is going through a learning curve. When recruiting, employers will generally recruit for a 60 – 80 per cent fit and are aware that the 20- 40 per cent will be reached while in the role.

If, however your workmate has been in the role for a significant amount of time i.e. past her probation period, then it’s a different issue.
My suggestion is to speak with her so you can find out what is causing the problem. It sounds like you have a good relationship, she trusts you and your concerned for her. Your discussion will highlight the root cause from which you’ll be better informed to help to her. It’s important that she recognises and takes ownership of the problem and the solution. You cannot be responsible for making it work out for her.

Depending on the nature of their relationship, she may want to consider discussing her challenges with her supervisor. The proactivity of initiating such a difficult conversation will cause her supervisor to take ownership of her development and growth. If she’s not comfortable with doing that, she’ll have to take the lead for self- learning and development so that her knowledge gaps are addressed. It’s important she understands the risks she’s taking by not addressing her knowledge gap.

Caroline Mboijana
Managing Director
The Leadership Team (U)