How to Deal With a Lazy Co-Worker

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Most people spend more time with their co-workers than their own family. Unfortunately, your co-workers can start to annoy you just as much as your loved ones do. This is especially true when they get too comfortable, expecting you to take care of them and pick up their slack. When things get too comfy, this can cause a lot of tension. What should you do if your co-worker is being lazy and leaving you to do all the heavy lifting? Here are a few tips for dealing with a bad team player.

Recognize the type of slacker you’re dealing with

Some co-workers may have a gap in skill level, so they try to find ways to get others to help them out. However, there is another type of slacker, what one author calls the professional or “hardworking slacker,” who uses laziness as a tool to manipulate others.

“Hardworking slackers…have an amazing gift to turn the most confident and productive team of employees into a dysfunctional group of backstabbers who no longer trust, respect, or like each other…My experience has shown that hardworking slackers are co-workers who intentionally and repeatedly use others to complete their work assignments. They also tend to use manipulative tactics to present the ideas and accomplishments of their co-workers as their own, while downplaying the contributions of the other team members,” said Tanya Michelle in The Chronicles of a Hardworking Slacker.

Don’t fly off the handle

Your initial response may be to have a few choice words with your co-worker. You’d probably like to tell him just how much of a slacker he is and how he doesn’t deserve his job. However, a heated argument will get you nowhere (except written up by human resources). Be respectful and don’t stir up any unnecessary conflict. This will only escalate the situation.

“…When things get crazy, you may not be able to control the situation, but you can control how you respond to it. How you react can keep things from getting crazier. Your internal responses, how you think and feel, and your actions, what you say and do, will determine how much damage the general insanity does to you,” said Albert Bernstein in Am I the Only Sane One Working Here? 101 Solutions for Surviving Office Insanity.

Talk to your co-worker

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It’s possible that your lazy co-worker could just be forgetful. In this case, you can gently, yet persistently, remind him about what has to be accomplished. This will only work, however, if you are in a leadership position on a team project or if you are senior to your co-worker. Otherwise, leave the nagging to his supervisor.

“Keep bringing up what needs to be done, making it absolutely clear that the only way to get you to stop is to do it,” advised Bernstein.

Talk to your supervisor

After you’ve gotten a handle on your emotions, it will be important to let your direct supervisor know what is going on. This way, if parts of the project you are working on don’t get completed or get botched, your boss will have some idea as to why things are unraveling. Also, your co-worker may try to lie about his or her lack of participation if the project starts to go downhill, so your boss will at least have a clear understanding of what is really taking place. Otherwise, you may get blamed for something that was not your fault. Your best bet is to speak up as soon as you see a problem brewing.