When/how to approach a grieving co-worker?


I’m the newest employee at a small investment firm. Right now, the co-worker who is training me lost her grandfather-in-law over the weekend, and her hospitalized grandmother-in-law is being taken off of life support sometime this week. My co-worker has not taken any time off to grieve, and she appears disconnected from, and apathetic to, the office. Understandably so. I’ve offered my condolences, but I still need someone to help me do my job at this point. She is the only other person in the office who does the same work that I’m expected to complete.

Recently, she delegated a complicated task to me. This task was delegated to her by one of our more finicky bosses. She walked me through most of the process, and I showed my completed work to her for approval. She told me that everything looked great and to send the paperwork through. Today, the finicky boss stormed my desk to inform me that the task was done incorrectly. I even fielded a phone call from the branch manager on the subject. My co-worker was not present during any of this, and when she arrived and became aware, she told me that I had processed the paperwork without her and had skipped steps before she had a chance to explain. This is untrue, but I feel awkward about addressing it with her at this point.

I took the blame, but now I’m resentful and feel as though I can’t trust her to train me properly. I don’t want to complain about her to upper management, and I don’t feel like she’s in any emotional condition to handle a rational one-on-one chat about what happened. I’m not sure of what to do. Any ideas?

Category: Tags: asked July 16, 2013

1 Answer

That she is grieving about her grandparents-in-law doesn't mean she has the licence to lie to your face, embarrass you in front of a superior and hide from her responsibilities. She's an adult, and so are you. From what you've said here, I think you should break the topic directly with her.