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!
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...
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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
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?