How to Deal With Lazy Co-Workers

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Dealing with lazy co-workers is a maddening experience until you stop babysitting them and confront their behavior. Try talking first with a slow-moving colleague to see why he's not pulling his weight. However, if no improvement follows, you'll need a supervisor's help to solve the problem. Just be sure to provide a solid factual case for how your co-worker's inertia hurts office morale and productivity. No matter how the situation turns out, you'll feel empowered by speaking out against your co-workers' unproductive behavior.

Analyze the Situation Objectively

  • Evaluate how your co-worker's actions impact you. You'll invest less emotional energy on behavior that doesn't affect you, versus work that piles up because you're being distracted by your co-worker. Behavior that irritates -- such as a co-worker web surfing -- is a different matter from destructive habits such as turning in poorly prepared reports, says careers columnist Alison Green in an October 2014 article in U.S. News & World Report Money.

Confront the Problem Directly

  • Initiate a direct conversation with your co-worker if you see a consistent pattern. To avoid triggering a defensive response, focus on the work, not the person. For example, you might say, "Jack, I'm spending 'x' amount of hours correcting your reports. Can you proofread better from now on?" Keep in mind that your co-worker may not realize how his actions affect others. Taking this approach raises the subject with less likelihood of a blowup.

Don't Let Your Work Suffer

  • Resist picking up a slacking co-worker's tasks. Being so conscientious doesn't change the dynamic of someone else covering up for his actions. More relevantly, your own performance will slip if you continually bail out an errant co-worker. Instead, politely decline to rescue him by saying something like, "I'm sorry, but I've got other deadlines." Remind him of his own responsibilities, but don't let his ways rub off. Otherwise, you risk aggravating an already difficult situation.

Let Your Boss Know

  • Request a meeting with your supervisor if your lazy co-worker doesn't change, and seek fellow team members' help to document his poor work habits. That's because most managers dislike confronting employees about these kinds of problems, states Bob Moulesong in an August 2012 article in The Times of Northwest Indiana. However, offering specific details of your co-worker's slacking makes your case harder to challenge -- especially if it's a team effort.

Other Considerations

  • Focus on your work. This is the tough part, especially if your lazy co-worker seems immune to any consequences. However, don't assume that nothing is happening, since managers don't necessarily reveal what occurs behind the scenes. However, if the situation gets worse, evaluate whether it makes sense to stay in such an environment. Inconsistent enforcement of policies is the hallmark of a toxic workplace -- and one common reason why employees leave, according to Paul White in a January 2015 Entrepreneur article.

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