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We have all been in this situation at some stage in our professional lives – you join a new office and you find that you are stuck with a bad apple, a lazy coworker.
You can also be in a state where you have a new team member join your department who has all the time in the world to do nothing. These are the kind of people who show up late every morning, have long breaks, are always hungry, watch Netflix at work and take too many naps in their desk chair.
Whatever the scenario, if there is a lazy co-worker, you should know that s/he would affect your performance and the performance of your workplace. All the time they spend in the restrooms, you are hustling around to get the job done for both of you. It can get even worse if they are one of those arrogant kinds who actually truly believe they are adding value to the workplace and giving their all in their job. From my personal experience, I can assure you that such situations do not get better unless you do something about it. So here are my top 11 tips to follow if you find yourself teamed up with a slouch:
- Stay Focused. It can get annoying and stressful to see your lazy co-worker checking social media websites and uselessly browsing the internet all day, while you are doing your job. Instead of worrying too much about this co-worker’s performance and attitude, try to focus on your tasks and deliver them with complete dedication. Getting distracted will affect your work as well as make you waste your time just noticing the lazy one. Give your best and hope that your line managers and human resource department can take notice of the ‘unfair’ situation.
- Know Your Role. Being a professional resource who values his/her work, you will need to understand your role. You will have to be confident in your abilities and you will need to realize that you can get out of this pickle. Bring out the best in you and act as a leader. To be honest, this can sometimes be a blessing in disguise as a weak team member can also help you climb the ladder while s/he is busy wasting all the time lazing around.
- Keep a Positive Attitude. It is normal to get angry with such people. The problem with getting angry is that you will end up wasting your own time and energy. If anything, this anger might give these bad co-workers just the victim card that they want to play and they will claim that your anger is the reason for their poor performance. Relax and keep a good, upbeat personality and keep being awesome. You never know when your positive attitude might actually influence others to change their ways. Improve your workplace communication between team members and departments to encourage a more agile, responsible culture in your office.
- Do NOT Emulate Their Habits. This is a BIG No. I have been close to getting lazy myself, thanks to such co-workers. Face it – watching such people waste their time and have it their way can be demotivating and you might start feeling that it is just unfair that you are not getting the same relaxation at work. What this can turn into is you totally transforming into the person you hated; visiting restroom too frequently and taking two-hour lunch breaks each day. Hold your ground and keep yourself from letting them rub their ways on you.
- Say NO To Their Responsibilities. There is a fine line between being a leader and being the scapegoat for everyone’s mistakes. If you are part of the same team, never pick up the work they are doing. Doing so will allow them to just push all the work your way, leaving you with too many tasks and too little time. You are not someone’s babysitter and no one can throw you under the bus for someone else’s shortcomings.
- Do Not Let Them Affect Your Progress. It is common to find a lazy colleague hindering your own progress. Do not let this become a norm and if the boss notices something and complains about the department, speak up. You need to be honest and informing your boss about the bad influence of a co-worker is your professional and ethical duty. Share your voice and help your work environment get better.
- Seize The Opportunity. You will likely get the opportunity from the boss to lead projects when s/he will notice another colleague not performing well. This will be your moment to shine and show your boss that you can deal with difficult situations. Do not be a bad leader – give honest counseling to this lazy co-worker and help them meet deadlines. If your boss can see visible improvement in the team under your leadership, you can very well guarantee yourself a better designation and possibly even a raise!
- Refrain From Gossip. It is just plain unprofessional and does you no good. You might have relieved a some burden off your head by sharing your thoughts with fellow colleagues but what it is bound to do is hurt someone’s feelings, and your own credibility. Such unprofessional behavior will also lead to team members getting personal with each other and nobody will love you for this. So stay away from all the gossiping and keep things highly professional.
- Clear the misunderstandings. Unbelievably, sometimes when you feel someone is lazy, s/he is actually just very confused about the responsibilities and deliverables. This can be a huge possibility if this co-worker is new to your company. I always advise everyone in such a situation to sit with this team member and discuss any problems s/he might be facing. What might seem like someone wasting time can possibly be just someone totally confused of his/her role and what is required of him/her. It can also be something domestic – a family dispute or health issues with oneself or in the family can be a major reason for nonproductive behavior. Some people are also introverts and need someone to help them open up. Be that helping hand.
- Discuss With Your Manager. In the event that your own work is affected, it is best that you have a serious discussion with your manager (not the ones in the cafeteria, more like the one in their room). Be direct and honest and discuss the issue that you are facing in as openly as possible. Do not start the conversation with an opinion and be open to suggestions. Show serious concern for your own work and the overall team’s performance and offer help from your end. Chances are that your manager will take notice and closely monitor your co-worker’s performance in the coming days, which will highlight your concerns.
- Say No to Collaborative Work. If nothing works and you are stuck with someone suffering from chronic laziness; it is best to avoid any projects and tasks in which you will both be accountable collectively. It is a good idea to have the discussion with your manager before any such situation comes, giving you a pretext to why you do not want to work together. It might raise some eyebrows and might even shock some people that you are looking less of a team player. However, it is far better than being stuck in a situation where you know you are delivering something below your usual standards, thanks to your team member.
So there you have it – my tips to follow if you find yourself with a lazy co-worker. It is also important to note that any opinion that you might have about this team member can never be on impulse or over a few hours; rather, it should be solely on your observations over a few days and weeks. We all have bad patches in our professional life for a gazillion reasons, so do not be too hard on the colleague. Sometimes, your little actions and resistance to a lazy co-worker’s habits can help not only yourself, but also that individual. I really like this article on wiki: How on How To Stop Covering For A Lazy Coworker. I also encourage you all to read my other blog posts on similar topics, like How to Make Friends in Hostile Workplace. We all should take workplace issues seriously, because it is our second home – a place where we spend around 9 hours of the day for at least 5 days in a week.
As always, I would love to hear your stories in the comment section. Let me know of your own personal experiences, and if you were ever in a situation where a co-worker’s laziness was affecting your performance and what you did to improve your own situation. Feel free to ask me questions on the topic that you think I have not covered and I will do everything I can to provide you with some helpful guidance.