Coburg Banks | Multi-sector UK recruitment agency

4 Tips for Dealing with a Lazy Co-worker

By Anthony Hughes | May 24, 2016 | Candidate Tips

sloth Last week, I posted a blog called “10 Ways to Motivate Your Lazy Employees” for our clients, all about how to cope with their less enthusiastic employees.

But is it really them who suffer the most?

Sure, managers face the burden of having to suss out and then discipline those staff members, but what about you, the co-workers, who have to pick up the slack in the meantime?

And ‘the meantime’ can often be a very, very long time indeed.

So what can you do?

1. Suck it up.

Counterintuitive – right? I’m supposed to be telling you how to deal with these people, not to ignore them.

Just ask yourself one question: does this person’s laziness actually affect you?

Do you genuinely have more work to do? Do your team projects suffer? Does that person make you look bad?

If not, then you can skip the rest of this blog.

Keep your head down, stop worrying about what other people are doing and getting away with and don’t let yourself get distracted and dragged into a negative mentality (click here to check out how to give yourself a quick, sharp positivity boost).

You’re only sabotaging yourself – (no one wants to work with a miserable, resentful, moaner).

Chances are, your boss will find out eventually and if not, suck it up! Life just isn’t fair, sometimes.

Recruiter Pro Tip

Tempted to tell your Manager about your lazy co-worker? Tread carefully.

Where some managers might respect your honesty and bravery at coming forward, many will consider your actions immature, sneaking and even nasty – especially if they haven’t noticed the lazy person’s behaviour for themselves.

Is it really worth the risk of coming across badly yourself?

Don’t let your lazy co-worker ruin your own career progression.

2. Talk to them.

So, you’ve decided that your lazy employee IS negatively affecting your working life – the next step is to have a chat with them (rather than running straight to a manager).

Find out from the horse’s mouth what’s actually going on.

Are they lazy? Or overworked? Have they got personal stuff going on, that’s getting in the way? Perhaps they’re not enjoying their job anymore and need a motivational pick-me-up?

There could be SO many things going on, other than just pure, intentional laziness – and if you never ask then you’ll never know.

If your co-worker does reveal something untoward, be supportive and encourage them to seek help (from you or other people).

Recruiter Pro Tip

This may seem like a selfish way to look at things…

But rather than getting frustrated, het up and angry at your co-worker, why not use the situation as an opportunity to show off what a great leader you are?

Showcasing your abilities to communicate well, motivate and support staff, as well as your willingness to step up to the plate and take on a difficult situation.

Let’s assume the best in people!

Starting to think that YOU are the lazy person? For tips on boosting your own productivity – click here.

3. Don’t support their laziness.

If after having a chat, it becomes apparent that your co-worker is intentionally lazy then you should make a stand – you shouldn’t allow your work to suffer.

When (inevitably) they end up dragging behind and ask you for a helping hand, you should politely decline – you have your own stuff to deal with and they made their own bed.

That person might just need a short, sharp reality check to change their lazy ways for good!

4. Talk to your manager.

Of course, saying “no” to helping a co-worker is easier said than done, especially when the entire success of the team depends on completion of the work.

So, under certain circumstances and when you’ve tackled all of the above, it may be time to approach a manager – one who can genuinely make a difference.

Explain the situation sensitively (don’t just waltz in, all guns-blazing) and try to phrase it positively ‘I think Jan could do with some extra support. She’s a little behind on her work etc.’

You might even want to keep the problem-person confidential “there are some people in the team who aren’t pulling their weight…”

Your boss should well-and-truly get the message and should hopefully start working towards a solution.

Do you know a lazy employee?

As you can probably tell from this blog, the most important thing is to handle things sensitively.

You really don’t want to make any rash decisions and upset anyone – and DON’T get dragged into office ‘bitching’ or even bullying.

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Hope you find them useful.

- Anthony Hughes

Anthony Hughes

Anthony is a recruitment veteran of 18 years and is also one of the original founders of Coburg Banks. He now trains recruitment consultants on the best methods to utilise when sourcing and assessing applicants for their clients. 


> More blog posts by Anthony Hughes

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