How to Deal With a Slacking Coworker

Posted April 17, 2013

Deal With a Slacking Coworker A new study found that a whopping 93 percent of American workers are getting dragged down by a slacking coworker, according to a Vital Smarts study. Come on, we all have one of those in our office. He shows up late, slacks off and really lowers the bar for your team.

You try to ignore him, but he’s like a plague to your career:

  • You can’t focus on your own work as well as you’d like.
  • You lose respect for management for lack of accountability.
  • It’s a bummer and it can hurt your morale.

If the slacker is truly impeding your growth opportunity at your job, it’s time to bite the bullet and do something about it. But confrontation is hard.

I mean, you’re not his boss. You might experience backlash. That’s probably why only 10 percent of employees actually speak up, according to the Viral Smarts study – even though their slacking colleague is costing you an extra 4-6 more hours of work each week!

Okay, enough is enough. We spoke with some experts on how to deal. Have you tried this approach?

[Check out: CareerBliss Guide: Coworkers and Bosses]

1. “I noticed that you’re kind of distracted”

Dianne Sikel, business building strategist suggests that saying this may cause him to reexamine and change his behavior. Here’s what you should say, according to Sikel:

Is there anything you need to get off your chest or you want to talk about? You know, since we work together, we affect each other in many ways. I am here to listen if you need a friend.

Being there for the slacker as a friend is a great way to avoid accusation and still see if he’ll open up to you about why he’s not stepping up. Or, it will help him realize that he is slacking off if he’s been oblivious to it.

2. Share Facts and Describe the Gap

If your slacking coworker simply doesn’t want to be buds, it’s time to lay down the law loud and clear. Tell him exactly how he’s falling short -- maybe not too brassy, though.

In order to do this in a non-threatening or accusatory way, “make it safe and don’t start by diving into the issue,” says Joseph Grenny, coauthor of New York Time’s best seller “Crucial Confrontations.”

Be nice and talk about your shared goals. (Then, it’s time to give it to him straight … Just kidding!)

“Start with the facts of the issue and strip out accusatory, judgmental and inflammatory language,” Grenny says. “Then, describe the gap between what was expected and what was delivered.”

3. Give Him a Chance to Share His Perspective

“Ask if he or she sees the problem differently. If you are open to hearing others' points of view, they'll be more open to yours,” Grenny says. This way, you’re not just talking at him.

4. Bring out the Big Guns: A Tactful Chat With Supervisor

If you have run the gamut of nice approaches, and he’s still shrugging shoulders, it’s time to report the issue – but do it like you’re walking on ice (very carefully).

“Don't let it be a whining session about I'm doing more,” Kelly Walsh, owner and president of 1SmartLife says, “but more one of I'm working 60 hours per week, I've talked to Joe and he hasn't been able to assist me and I'm concerned about being able to do my best work for you.”

photo of The CareerBliss Team

The CareerBliss Team

CareerBliss cares about your career happiness. That's why we offer a variety of great tools and resources to help you make better-informed career decisions. We believe that if you're happier at work, you'll be happier in life! Check out company reviews, salary information, career advice and, of course, millions of jobs on CareerBliss and choose happy today!

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