Work Relationships

How to Handle Working With a Lazy Coworker

Written by Peter Jones

We’ve all been there—paired with the team member that just isn’t holding up their share of the tent poles. You can’t quite tattle on them because that would just reflect badly on you, but you also can’t let them get away with it all the time and just keep carrying your weight.

If you’re frustrated with a lazy, extra-long-lunch-taking, slack-off of a coworker, here are a few ways you can alleviate the situation.

Don’t let them knock you off your pins.

If you’re spending the entire day focusing on just how lazy and useless your coworker is, chances are you’re not doing your own work as well as you could and should be doing. Try tuning them out, no matter how many times you notice them checking Facebook. Focus on your own work—or you’ll end up having as low an output as the lazy person. It might not be fair, but neither is life. Too much attention on fairness is just immature.

Stay focused on yourself.

Instead of obsessing about what a lame-o your coworker is, direct your energy instead to deciding what kind of a person and coworker you want to be. And start living up to your own ideals. Be the kind of person you admire most—not just someone who carps on the weakest link. Don’t let your good attitude get affected by someone else’s bad work.

Don’t assume responsibility.

Don’t tattle, but also don’t just pick up their slack. Their work should not be your work. And if your boss recognizes that some work isn’t getting done, do your best to not be assigned any of the blame.

Be a leader.

Take this opportunity to distinguish yourself. Stay above the gossip. Step up and show your boss and your team how well you deal with difficult situations. Be the hero of your team. Communicate with your lazy co-worker—they may not be lazy at all, but rather dealing with issues or problems you haven’t imagined. Try helping them get back in the game, rather than watching them crash and burn.

Say no.

Don’t agree to projects that require your coworker to work at full capacity. And don’t agree to time frames that you know to be unrealistic given the situation. Worst case scenario, in saying no, you’ll earn an opportunity to broach the subject of your coworker with your boss in a non-tattletaley way. It’s the classier way to escalate the situation.

Put your reputation first.

As annoying as it is to find yourself in this situation, what you have to remember is that you cannot go down with the sinking ship. You might have to put in a few more hours and do a bit more work on the edges until the situation can be resolved. If you have a high-stakes project that can’t be avoided and the deadlines can’t be changed, you just have to do the extra work and sort the situation out afterwards. Try and hold your head up high and distinguish yourself as much as possible, which will make the inevitable fall-out that much easier.

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About the author

Peter Jones

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