I am intrigued by a recent Monster.com poll regarding the propensity to provide (or not to provide) feedback regarding under-performing co-workers. Poll results reported that, of the 10,676 respondents, 58% would step in and help their underperforming friends at work, rather than reporting him or her.
The question was asked, “A colleague you are friends with has been seriously underperforming. Would you report him or her?” The poll received the following responses:
• Yes, if the team’s success is on the line: 27%
• No, if possible, I’d help my friend with work: 58%
• Yes, if it will help me get ahead: 4%
• No, if the boss doesn’t notice, it’s not my concern: 11%
Even more intriguing to me were the follow-up discussions held in various online groups. I found the following responses especially interesting:
“I would rather maintain the friendship.”
“If they were under-performing, they are probably hurting everyone else. Someone else has to pick up the load.”
“That’s the boss’s job.”
“What kind of ‘friend’ would report someone to the boss? Seriously? Time to find new friends!”
I fully support helping out co-workers in times of need. We’ve all been on both the giving and receiving ends of the need spectrum. While I’m certainly not suggesting that co-workers go out and start a “narc on your neighbor campaign,” I wonder what percentage of these ten thousand-plus respondents would have a discussion with his or her co-worker worker regarding this underperformance. Based on the poll results, it’s clear that not many would involve the boss, even if the boss could help.
One interesting option on the Monster poll would have been, “No, but I would tell my friend about his/her underperformance,” although in this poll it was not one of the possible responses. Withholding appropriate feedback does not help an individual correct a performance problem (Guys… notice I said, “appropriate feedback”… the answer to “Does this dress make me look fat” is NEVER “no, it’s not the dress”). I also question whether allowing an individual to continue in failure could really be “helping.”
An interesting follow-up question to this poll would be, “If YOU were seriously under-performing, would you want your co-worker friend to tell you about it?” I would suspect that most of us would want to know.