Reporting an Underperforming Colleague: Cloak and Dagger or Better For Business?

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A recent workplace poll by Monster Worldwide revealed that only 27 percent of workers would report a friend to the boss if they felt the team’s performance was compromised by their friend’s performance. A more devious 4 percent of workers said they would tell their boss about the underperforming colleague if they thought it would help them get ahead, while an overwhelming 58 percent stated they would not tell their boss about their friend’s poor performance, and if possible, would help them get their work done. Lastly, an apathetic 11 percent decided if the boss didn’t notice, it wasn’t their problem.

Monster had 10,676 respondents polled worldwide.  The question asked was as follows: “A colleague you are friends with has been seriously underperforming, would you report him or her?’ The data revealed the following spread:

  1. Yes, if it will help me get ahead: 4%
  2. Yes, if the team’s success is on the line: 27%
  3. No, if possible, I’d help my friend with work: 58%
  4. No, if the boss doesn’t notice, it’s not my concern: 11%

Broken down geographically, U.S. workers come off a bit more ruthless then their European and Asian counterparts. U.S. respondents were more likely to report their friend to the boss (37 percent), and more likely to do so if they thought they could get ahead (5 percent). Conversely, only 25 percent in Europe and 24 percent in Asia would tell their boss if a colleague’s performance was affecting the team. Workers from both regions scored under4 percent for using the tactic to get ahead. The numbers suggest a degree of differing social and business standards throughout the world. The high U.S. figures numbers might speak to the American ideal of ambition, while Asia’s conservative reporting might suggest stronger importance placed on cooperation and teamwork.

By Marie Larsen