It’s frustrating, but inevitable. At some point in each of our careers, we will run into that one person who is a complete slacker coworker. They might leave early each day, not attend meetings, chit chat all day long, or might not complete their portion of a project. Regardless of what they do, they are not fulfilling their responsibilities and this ultimately means more work for everyone else to make sure you don’t fall behind.
To avoid the tension that comes with working with a slacker coworker, you will need a strategy to both solve the problem and not drive yourself completely insane by micromanaging another coworker on top of your already full workload. Your gut reaction may be to confront this coworker in a less friendly way. However, handling the situation in a more diplomatic way will be more likely to solicit a better response. Approach your coworker in a neutral way and ask them about their workload and how they could contribute more to the team.
Communication is key with a slacker coworker
Clear communication is important so the situation does not escalate into an argument that will bring further tension into the workplace. Ask your slacker coworker the right questions but don’t come across as accusatory. Though you may see them as a slacker, they may see themselves as a productive worker and are unaware that they may be putting an unfair amount of work on the team’s shoulders. You cannot assume that this coworker automatically understands your needs and is actively ignoring them. Take time to sit down with them and review when and what you need from them. Verify that they feel as though they can meet these requirements and assume the responsibility you and your team need them to. After you review this with them, a visible change should be seen in their behavior.
If there are moments where old slacker tendencies seem to rear their ugly heads, try to solve the issue through reminders and letting them gently know that they are letting the team down by not stepping up to the plate. There may even be others on your team who are allowing this slacker coworker to continue to slack off because they are uncomfortable with confrontation. In this case, make sure all team members are aware that this coworker is actively trying to make a change so they can also encourage the change in behavior.
However, if a change is seen only temporarily, this may indicate that it is time to take the issue to the next level. If they do not make the effort to assume a more equal share of the workload, it is time to discuss this with your boss. Review the whole situation with your boss and be sure to cite specific examples, as well as review the steps you have already taken to try to solve the problem on a coworker level.
Don’t let yourself get caught up in emotion and don’t let a slacker coworker continue to make you pick up the slack. It can be frustrating and it may be uncomfortable to start the conversation, but once you do, you will be grateful you did.