Slackers – 8 Tips to Deal with Bad Co-Workers

 In Career Tips

Slackers - 8 Tips to Deal with Bad Co-WorkersIt would be so great to find that dream career and go to it each day with a song in your heart knowing that you and everyone there will work as the powerhouses you are.  Unfortunately, the truth of the matter is, you will inevitably run into co-workers who will make it challenging to keep that song going each day.

You may run into a Slacker who is so lazy they can barely breathe on their own.  This is the kind of person who misses deadlines, requires you to push or prod to get assignments to you on time or even waits so long to do something that you have to do it yourself.  You’re left wondering why they haven’t been fired.  It wouldn’t be so bad, but their slacker tendencies directly impact the work you do.

You may feel like it’s not your job to make the Slacker perform.  I understand, but the question is:  Are you willing to fail because you can’t/won’t solve this problem?   Problem solving isn’t just about increasing sales; it’s about solving problems anywhere in the work place.

Here are 8 approaches/tips for how to improve this situation:

  1. Identify the root cause.  This may take some keen observation and probing questions.  More than likely, you will discover more than one issue at play with the Slacker.  You may unearth things like: poor time management, poorly trained or incompetent, prioritization issues or lack of motivation.  You have to understand the problem before you can solve it.
  2. Discuss your needs with the Slacker.  Don’t assume the Slacker truly understands your needs.  Sit down with them to discuss:  what you need, how you need it, and when you need it.  Specifically ask them if they are committed to satisfying those requirements.  This also becomes the basis of follow up conversations, if needed.
  3. Reinforce good behavior.  All of us become much more motivated when someone likes or notices our efforts.  Make sure to notice the things they do right and let them know.  You will discover they will love to do things for you because you are so gracious.
  4. Send reminders.  Unfortunately, a great deal of the population needs reminders to keep deadlines at the top of their mind.  Don’t be timid about sending a couple of them; or drop by their office and remind them in person.
  5. Check in.  As you’re doing your reminders, ask a specific question about the work they’re doing for you.  You may discover they are stuck and you can help.  This is also a way of holding them accountable, as well as helping them solve their own problems until they get the process down.
  6. If they fail, let them know.  Sometimes people don’t fully understand the impact of their failure to perform.  You don’t have to be over emotional, but you do need to let them know how this impacts your work.  Don’t let them off the hook.  Most Slackers got that way because people kept letting them be Slackers. Let them slide once or twice, but let them know by the second time that if the issue persists you will be forced to escalate it to the boss. Don’t make threats without a willingness to see it through.  Just like a dog or child, there has to be repercussions for a failure to perform.
  7. Document your efforts.  It’s important to recognize that if you’ve given your best effort to help this person, you may need to take the issue to the boss to correct.  You will need to lay out all you’ve done to solve the problem; and the best way to do that is to have a paper trail.
  8. When all else fails, take it to the boss.  You need to understand that the boss is not the first line of defense.  They expect you to solve most issues whether it is with a co-worker or a client.  If you take it to the boss, you must make your case professionally, with documentation and a clear discussion on what will happen next.  You have to demonstrate your attempts at solving this issue before involving management.

Slackers are often fairly charming people to be with.  This doesn’t mean you have to pick up the slack for them.  You may find that you’re the first person who has actually had high expectations of them and helps them to meet those expectations.  It can be frustrating, but the situation can improve due to your efforts.

For more career tips and advice – FREE newsletter and eworkbook:  From Dorothy Tannahill-Moran – Your Career Change Agent from and

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