Ashley Wilson
Handle deadbeat co-workers with these tips!
Last updated: June 23, 2022
Ashley Wilson
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Handle deadbeat co-workers with these tips!
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Remember when you were in school and you were assigned to work with someone on a group project?

It all sounded so exciting until a few days in when you suddenly realized that you were doing ALL of the work or worse they were just driving you crazy! Back then you could simply approach your teacher, but as a working adult things can be a little bit trickier.

Co-workers are a wonderful thing to have at work. They provide a sense of camaraderie, friendship, and someone to eat lunch with! However, when one particular co-worker begins to slack off or get under your skin it may be time to take action.

Let's take a look at the best ways to handle a deadbeat co-worker!

Give your coworker direct feedback

Sometimes the best thing you can do is to clear the air. Now, not everyone will be 100% comfortable with this option (and we understand) but if you are you can take on the issue directly it will generally yield faster results. So here is what you do...

Plan what you're going to say

Think about what changes you'd like to see from your co-worker. Focus your feedback on a specific concern. Overloading someone with feedback can hurt your working relationship - so it's best to stick with one issue at a time.

Lead the conversation with something positive

During the very beginning of the conversation ALWAYS lead with a positive. This will help diffuse the situation and allow them not to be on the defensive. Start by saying, "I really enjoyed when you".... and provide something that you think they are doing well overall or something you've noticed lately.

You may have to reach, but find something! For example, perhaps they are a really creative or caring person, but they tend to just slack off at work and get distracted.

Then once you say something positive, bring in the constructive feedback, but be sure to frame it in a positive way. For example, you could say,

"I know that you are a creative person, but I am having a difficult time finishing this project alone and I've observed that you lose focus. We were assigned this as a team, and I could really use your support."

Appeal to their empathetic nature and use "I" statements such as I feel, I think, I am, etc. This will make it more about you and less about them and keep the conversation non-confrontational.

They might not even know that what they are doing is bothering you or anyone else because no one has likely mentioned it. If you phrase it correctly without sounding like you are attacking and keep things honest they will appreciate your feedback.

Set up a time to talk with your co-worker

Ask them to grab a coffee with you during a break or to join you while you eat lunch. If you are both working from home request some one-on-one time and schedule a phone call or video chat.

Allow them to react

Give your co-worker space and time to process your feedback and respond. It may take a bit to sink in and an instant solution or apology may not come especially if they feel hurt or embarrassed.

Looking for more advice on how to give and receive constructive feedback? 

Report or escalate your coworker's behavior

Of course, if your co-worker makes you feel uncomfortable, or acts in a way where anyone's safety is compromised, you should absolutely report this person as soon as possible, if not immediately.

But escalating a less risky issue to a manager can make a big difference. Remember that it is your manager's job to support you and to listen, so take full advantage of that! You may have to schedule a time to speak with the appropriate manager.

"Situations like this are very frustrating. Best you can do is continue to be a dependable reliable employee, and not let someone else affect who you are. Chances are, the supervisors know what is happening and will eventually act on it. They may be shorthanded and looking for a replacement, or have started the disciplinary process without your knowledge. Continue to be the great worker you are and the scales will usually balance out in the end."
-Jobcase member Keith Bavers

During the conversation with your manager, calmly and rationally explain what has been happening. Try to stick with "facts" and behaviors you've observed firsthand. Keep your opinions to yourself, and try not to repeat rumors or assumptions that you've heard from others.

Be prepared to include the following in your conversation with your manager:

  • Your observations of the coworker's behavior - such as they constantly tap or kick their desk, talk too loudly on the phone, hum loudly use profanities, etc.
  • How long the behaviors have occurred - be prepared to share specific dates and times
  • The consequences/results of your co-worker's behavior - such as how you have an unreasonable workload or unable to complete your work.
  • What a successful resolution may look like - decide the best course of action and what you would like to happen as an end result.

Whatever the case your manager should work with you to come up with a reasonable solution that works for everyone!

"Co-workers are like an apple orchard good apples and bad apples alike. For the most part I believe the good outweighs the bad."
-Jobcase member Vincent Ragozzino

Avoiding a deadbeat co-worker sometimes is best

If you have a co-worker who is just plain rude or driving you crazy and will not listen to reason it may be time to avoid them.

The simplest way to accomplish this is to remove yourself from wherever they are. Try working in other areas on the floor, office, or workspace. If you cannot do this then pop on those headphones and block things out.

Try listening to something that will make you feel happy and calm. If you have someone who is constantly tapping on their desk or talking to themselves some noise-canceling headphones will do you a world of good!


Have you ever had a co-worker that drove you NUTS?

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Ashley Wilson
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Mary Patterson

Perform your job. Stay out of their way. Avoid confrontation with these folks. Sometimes, they do not know how to conduct themselves when given a little bit of authority. Let's hire people with higher learning degrees and unequivocal common sense. A time and a place for everything.

Perform your job. Stay out of their way. Avoid confrontation with these folks. Sometimes, they do not know how to conduct themselves when given a little bit of authority. Let's hire people with higher learning degrees and unequivocal common sense. A time and a place for everything.

1y
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Cathleen Bailey

@Stephen Vincent. That's not what I'm trying to say. I'm certainly not trying to get along with everyone. I misspoke. I just try to be friendly and get my work done. Sadly, I've worked for some companies where the boss/bosses were nightmares and the majority of the employees were a group of petty children who would put out mass emails letting the entire company know that you went #2 in the bathroom, which believe it or not, was forbidden at that company.

@Stephen Vincent. That's not what I'm trying to say. I'm certainly not trying to get along with everyone. I misspoke. I just try to be friendly and get my work done. Sadly, I've worked for some companies where the boss/bosses were nightmares and the majority of the employees were a group of petty children who would put out mass emails letting the entire company know that you went #2 in the bathroom, which believe it or not, was forbidden at that company.

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Stephen Vincent

If you're getting triggered over tapping on a desk or humming, YOU'RE the unbearable coworker. People avoid you and your countless irritants.

If you're getting triggered over tapping on a desk or humming, YOU'RE the unbearable coworker. People avoid you and your countless irritants.

1y
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Cathleen Bailey

Sadly I've had too many jobs like this of late. My husband doesn't understand why I am pursuing remote-only jobs now. I'm to the point I don't want to deal with the people that have been there way too long that have nasty attitudes and treat the people who actually work really hard and try to get along with everybody else badly. I swear I've almost developed PTSD from some of the jobs I've had they've been so bad. Being abused by your boss for years is not something you should have to put up with, but I did. I won't do it again. I'm finally in a position in my life I don't have to put up with it.

Sadly I've had too many jobs like this of late. My husband doesn't understand why I am pursuing remote-only jobs now. I'm to the point I don't want to deal with the people that have been there way too long that have nasty attitudes and treat the people who actually work really hard and try to get along with everybody else badly. I swear I've almost developed PTSD from some of the jobs I've had they've been so bad. Being abused by your boss for years is not something you should have to put up with, but I did. I won't do it again. I'm finally in a position in my life I don't have to put up with it.

1y
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Stephen Lewis

The way I look at this is,I do my job to the best of my ability,I do not know what my coworkers are going through or what may be happening in their lives,If for some reason they have a problem with me I hope they would come talk to me about it.If management feels I am not doing my job it is their responsibility to bring it to my attention or relieve me of my duties.

The way I look at this is,I do my job to the best of my ability,I do not know what my coworkers are going through or what may be happening in their lives,If for some reason they have a problem with me I hope they would come talk to me about it.If management feels I am not doing my job it is their responsibility to bring it to my attention or relieve me of my duties.

1y
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TC Andrews

When the problem is your boss, you get forced out because HR is spineless as is executive management.

When the problem is your boss, you get forced out because HR is spineless as is executive management.

1y
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Sylvia Sudler

I do get along with my coworkers all the times Sylvia sudler

I do get along with my coworkers all the times Sylvia sudler

1y
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Sylvia Sudler

I would like a coworker to talk me back and forth to work at the goodwill thank you so so much Sylvia sudler

I would like a coworker to talk me back and forth to work at the goodwill thank you so so much Sylvia sudler

1y
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Security Shark

The best way to deal with horrible employers and coworkers is to tell it straight to their faces and leave to something better. Course you need to find the next new job first before you make the final confrontation.

The best way to deal with horrible employers and coworkers is to tell it straight to their faces and leave to something better. Course you need to find the next new job first before you make the final confrontation.

1y
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Jim Groner

I work as an LVN in a predominantly female staffed nursing home. Most of the time the nurses are sarcastic, only thinly veiled. Usually I just I just shine them on. For me its best can't win & can't fight City Hall. Someday I'll have my time to shine & they'll rue that day!!!

I work as an LVN in a predominantly female staffed nursing home. Most of the time the nurses are sarcastic, only thinly veiled. Usually I just I just shine them on. For me its best can't win & can't fight City Hall. Someday I'll have my time to shine & they'll rue that day!!!

1y
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