How to Deal With Underperforming Colleagues: This Is What I Did
Editor’s Note: We’re bound to encounter all sorts of coworkers in the workplace, and unpleasantness may develop for a variety of reasons. You could say that interpersonal relationships are one of the biggest headaches in our lives, so how can we get along well with our colleagues? This is an issue that all of us face. Mu Qing, a Christian, is no exception to this. She ends up having to take on a lot of work herself because her new workmate’s skills aren’t up to par. This creates a barrier between them and their relationship becomes more and more awkward. But through praying to God and reading His words, Mu Qing finds the root of her inability to get along with her coworker as well as the path to resolve this issue—they then become best friends. If you or your friends are in a similar bind, hopefully Mu Qing’s experience can be of use to you.
A new colleague, Qianqian was recently transferred over to our department. I was incredibly excited, thinking, “We’ve been overwhelmed with work lately—we’re always too busy to finish everything up. It’ll be so much better now; this new person can take on some of the burden. I’ve heard that Qianqian’s pretty good at her job. With a capable helper things will be a bit easier on me. From now on our work efficiency might see a significant improvement as well, and we may even be rewarded.”
When Qianqian was still pretty new to the department some quality issues started coming up with the factory’s products and there were a lot of urgent things to deal with. Once I got really frustrated when a difficult customer presented a tricky problem and I wanted Qianqian to help out with it, but to my surprise, she just said with a look of helplessness, “I don’t know how to handle this either.” Hearing this, a feeling of resentment suddenly welled up within me and I thought, “Wasn’t your performance pretty good in your last position? These kinds of problems shouldn’t be show-stopping for you. You haven’t even started but still say you can’t deal with it. Are you actually trying or not? I thought you’d be able to take some of the pressure off, but it seems you’re not much use….”
A period of time passed and I was becoming more and more dissatisfied with Qianqian’s performance. One afternoon the weather was particularly cold—my breath would freeze when I exhaled, and another colleague and I went out to take care of an important issue. I thought that Qianqian would be able to pretty much take care of that days’ work and the things that needed to be handled, but when I got back and asked about it, she said helplessly, “There are a few things that I’m not sure how to handle. You guys need to take another look at it.” I felt disappointed, and as soon as I had turned on my computer and taken a look, I thought, “How could there be so many things she hasn’t responded to or handled? How long is this going to take me now? It looks like Qianqian was hardly doing any work today!” I suddenly felt my temper flaring up and I couldn’t hold my feeling of reproach back, thinking “I thought you’d be able to get this work done, I never imagined you’d leave me with all these problems. I thought that things would ease up after you were transferred over; I’m surprised your performance is so lacking. It looks like having you here or not having you here is all the same—you’re of no use. If it weren’t for the fact that the manager looks at the performance by team instead of individual I wouldn’t care if you didn’t do anything at all. Do you think you can hold on to your job? Hmph, it’s exasperating!”
I hardly spoke with Qianqian over the following few days and we lost our usually harmonious atmosphere in the office. The air was permeated with awkwardness. Seeing the state of my relationship with her was upsetting for me, as well. I thought of how I’m a Christian and I shouldn’t treat a colleague that way, but seeing how lacking her work performance was got me riled up and really irritated. I hated seeing her do anything and I couldn’t keep myself calm at work. I didn’t want to engage with her, so there were some work issues I didn’t discuss with her when I should have which held up our progress. This left me even more upset and frustrated. In my suffering, I came before God and shared my distress with Him, and I slowly became calmer after prayer. I thought back carefully over the events of the past few days and realized that since Qianqian had joined our department I’d had really high expectations of her. I wanted her to be able to resolve and handle all sorts of problems and when I found out that there were a lot of things she didn’t understand I started looking down on her. I felt that having her there was hardly any use and I didn’t want to work with her. I didn’t want to speak with her or even see her, to the point that our relationship became more and more forced. Realizing this, I felt a lot of self-reproach and I didn’t understand why I would treat Qianqian that way. I was so happy when I heard she was going to start working with us, so why had I started acting like that?
In my seeking, I read this passage from God’s words: “Until people have experienced God’s work and gained the truth, it is Satan’s nature that takes charge and dominates them from within. What, specifically, does that nature entail? For example, why are you selfish? … By now, you have all come to understand that the main reason behind all these things is that Satan’s poison is within you. As for what Satan’s poison is, it can be fully expressed with words. For example, if you ask some evildoers why they committed evil, they will answer, ‘Because it’s every man for himself, and the devil take the hindmost.’ This single phrase expresses the very root of the problem. Satan’s logic has become people’s lives. They may do things for this purpose or that, but they are only doing it for themselves. Everyone thinks that since it is every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost, people should live for their own sakes, and do everything in their power to secure a good position for the sake of food and fine clothing. ‘Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost’—this is the life and the philosophy of man, and it also represents human nature. These words of Satan are precisely the poison of Satan, and when people internalize it, it becomes their nature. Satan’s nature is exposed through these words; they represent it completely. This poison becomes people’s lives as well as the foundation of their existence, and corrupted humanity has been consistently dominated by this poison for thousands of years” (“How to Walk the Path of Peter”). Then I saw this excerpt from Sermons and Fellowship: “People live for themselves and for their flesh. They are absolutely not concerned at all about others and they do not even have the loving emotions that they should possess. Men fight and scheme against each other and they do so both openly and covertly. There is no way for mankind to get along with one another in a normal fashion. The conscience and rationality that man should possess has vanished from the face of the earth. There is no spirit of cooperation amongst mankind. Without a little bit of patience, people would be enemies with one another” (“Which Problems One Should Resolve Primarily in Reading God’s Words” in The Fellowship From the Above).” God’s words as well as the Sermons and Fellowship laid bare the satanic disposition within me. I thought of how when Qianqian had just joined our department, even though I trained her with enthusiasm and patience, what I was thinking inside was that if she took on a lot of work and did it well, then I’d have some of my burden eased and work would be more relaxing. I thought that having another person on board would increase our team’s work efficiency and maybe we’d even get a bonus. But when her performance wasn’t as I had hoped, when there were a number of things she didn’t understand, I gave her the cold shoulder for not working efficiently enough, for lacking a sense of responsibility, so I didn’t want to have anything to do with her. My starting point in that wasn’t to genuinely be good to her and help her improve her work skills, but my own selfishness was hidden within it. I wanted to use Qianqian for my own aim of doing less work and getting more money, really in line with the satanic logic and law of “Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost.” All I wanted to do was take advantage without taking a loss myself; I had just been thinking of and planning for my own benefit in everything. My behavior was just to use someone else to gratify my own selfish desires. I didn’t have any love or patience for her and didn’t take her own difficulties into consideration one little bit. It was so selfish and despicable—that’s not remotely like a Christian! I felt really ashamed when I reflected on all of this.
Afterward, I read another passage from Sermons and Fellowship: “In order for people to interact normally with one another, they must possess a few principles of practice. These principles should not only include not taking advantage of others, not harming others, but having some love. They further include having a conscience and rationality, helping one another, showing tolerance to one another, caring for others, letting others benefit in all situations, considering others, not just caring about yourself, showing compassion for others’ weaknesses, and forgiving the transgressions of others. If we have these few principles, we will be able to build a normal relationship with others and we will be able to live in harmony with each other” (“Which Problems One Should Resolve Primarily in Reading God’s Words” in The Fellowship From the Above). I understood through this fellowship that in our interactions we have to learn to help other people and be forgiving of their difficulties. We can’t just consider our own interests and think only of ourselves—this is the kind of reason that Christians should possess in our interactions and only living this way can bear witness to and glorify God. That’s also the only way to achieve harmony with others. As I gave it more careful thought, I realized that no matter how well Qianqian had done in her previous position, no matter how capable she had been, anyone would be inexperienced in a new environment with new work, and would need a process of acclimatization. It’s normal for someone to underperform in those circumstances and those of us who had been there longer really need to help her out with love and patience so that she could become familiar with and gain a good grasp on the work better and more quickly. But I hadn’t taken her practical difficulties into consideration, instead demanding that she do everything well. Wasn’t that an unreasonable demand on her? We all had a lot of pressure on us at that point, so I couldn’t hold someone else down because of my own selfish desires, but had to put my own interests aside and be a loving, helpful person. With this in mind I came before God in prayer: “Oh God, I don’t want to live by Satan’s law and philosophy of ‘Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost,’ only thinking of my own interests. God, may You guide me to be a loving person who can be forgiving and caring of others so that I may live out proper humanity to bear witness to and glorify You. Amen!”
Over the next several days I tried not to be petty with Qianqian and would take care of more of whatever I was able to. My relationship with her naturally became smoother. One afternoon a few days after that as I was busy with work, Qianqian came over and said to me, “Mu Qing, could you edit the materials that have just been sent over? The boss said it’s urgent.” When she said this I looked over at her desk and saw it was completely empty and couldn’t stop the anger rising within me: “I’m this busy but your computer is sitting there unused all the time. When are you going to learn to edit these documents yourself? I have to be the one to do it every single time….” Then I suddenly realized that I shouldn’t think about it like that, that I was still just taking my own interests into account and keeping tabs over who was doing more or less. I silently prayed to God, “God, I’m really so selfish. The moment I encounter something like this my satanic disposition comes into play in how I treat her. Oh God, please give me tolerance and forbearance so that I can forsake my own flesh, let go of my interests, live out proper humanity, and get along well with my colleague.” After praying a passage from the fellowship I had read came to mind: “In order for people to interact normally with one another, they must possess a few principles of practice. … They further include … helping one another, showing tolerance to one another, caring for others, letting others benefit in all situations, considering others, not just caring about yourself, showing compassion for others’ weaknesses….” I understood from this that in my interactions with others I shouldn’t just care about my personal interests, but I should learn to be understanding of others. Qianqian was still in training for the job and it was really just her editing skills that still needed work. The task that day was urgent, so it really was appropriate for her to have me do it. I then got the materials from her and quickly edited it, then had Qianqian send it out. It was taken care of expediently.
Seeing this outcome put me very much at ease. I realized how great it is to have more understanding, tolerance and care for others while considering myself a bit less and not upholding my personal interests. From then on I started teaching some basic editing skills to Qianqian and taught her how to handle some issues that came up at work. She became more familiar with these things and started to be able to independently handle her work.
Over time I discovered Qianqian’s strong points. Even though she doesn’t work very quickly, she is meticulous and considerate, and at times she even cares for me in my life just like a big sister would. She’s thrilled to help others out. Now we’re just like sisters to each other—this has been achieved entirely because of God’s work. Thank God!