Teamwork, Conflict Resolution, Workplace Productivity, Employee Management, Employee Engagement, Performance Management
By Ireoluwa Bello.
We were all raised with diverse work ethics. Your attitude to work is sometimes determined by the working culture you imbibed growing up. The chances that you would be a lazy worker are heightened with lackadaisical parents or nonchalant role models. Lazy people are everywhere in different shades, shapes, and sizes. They are the least contributors during team works; they are quick to bail out when it gets tough, and nothing is that important to them; everyone is just too serious. With them, teamwork means having your name on the report; zero contributions. It sounds like a colleague at work, right? We know them too.
No matter the cause, it is still undisputed that many people are decisively lazy. They are unbothered that others mostly complete their tasks and are comfortable receiving the accolades when it is over; unfortunately, they have found ways to scathe without rigorous pushback, making them a huge liability to a company or group, or organization. They drastically lower workplace productivity and zap morale. They also increase workload while bagging the same salary as you, which is enough to drive anyone crazy.
Although destructive habits like that should not be tolerated, conflict resolution in the workplace cannot be handled carelessly. An outburst of emotion from pent-up frustration will do more harm than good. Professional conduct should guide all forms of workplace communication. At work, your emotions come second, but this doesn’t make ignoring a lazy worker right.
These tips will help when dealing with a lazy co-worker:
1. Give them an iota of doubt.
Remember that there are different shades of laziness, implying that there are different reasons behind laziness. Don’t be quick to match into your boss’s office and demand such a person gets fired. You might want to put yourself in their shoes and try to help. Ask why they have been slacking, and find a convenient way to show support. You can offer to be their performance manager and show them how you manage your workload. If they are in a rough patch, it won’t last forever, and they will be grateful if you extend a little bit of grace.
2. Ask for help:
If the lazy co-worker was employed before you or has worked with others in the company, you can ask old colleagues how best to handle this person or the situation. Old colleagues might understand the lazy co-worker and the workplace culture of your company; they have probably handled such in the past and can perfectly walk you through it. Before making any rash decision, ask around. Most colleagues will only offer to help once you ask.
When all else has failed, it’s time to bring out the big guns; report to your superiors. Depending on your preferred workplace communication, pick the best method to present your concerns, but make sure it is one-on-one. Whether it is verbal or written, make sure it is delivered in person. Adding any other person to the line of communication might create noise; you need the message to be as clearly stated as possible.
4. Direct and concise:
At this point, it is important not to get carried away by pent-up frustration and anger easily. After deciding to report the lazy co-worker, step back and center your thoughts. Your delivery must be direct, clear, conservative, and concise. Do not rant or make it personal. Remember that your professional conduct will also be judged, and being confrontational will only shift the focus from your message to your conduct or an accusation of poor performance management.
5. Take your receipts along:
After making a clear verbal or written report, back it up with concrete evidence. This means that flimsy work evasion won’t suffice. You must prove that this person needs to be handled, or the company will suffer. In the same breath, you must prove that you are not lying or witch-hunting.
Attach email correspondences of them missing deadlines, making excuses, or apologizing for not contributing. You can also attach an unedited version of their contributions, showing the lack of content or personal correspondence like voice notes and messages of them seeking an easy way out. The evidence you provide is the only thing that sets you apart from another grieved and intolerable worker.
6. Express your struggles:
At this point, you have their attention. Go all out and tell them how much you struggle to cover up for another person. You can highlight how it affects your work's quality and stress that you would like to be more productive if only the situation is handled. Give instances of how much you’ve tried and what could have been if you only had more hands on deck. Avoid giving an ultimatum, but ask for advice on handling the added workload or the lazy co-worker.
7. Suggest a solution:
Bring it home by suggesting different solutions that will benefit all parties. It would be best if you had done your research beforehand and tried to fit everyone in. Your goal might not be to get them fired but repurposed, so do the proper homework. A good suggestion is a memo to remind the worker of the employee rules guiding teamwork or employee feedback that leave little room for slacking. You can also suggest sections in the company where the skills set will be much appreciated.
8. Make it personal:
If some internal/external support system protects your lazy co-worker, make it personal by expressing discomfort and your inability to work with them. Start your sentence with “I” while expressing yourself. Indicate that you cannot handle such a person on your team and highlight the consequences of retaining them. Such people were probably pushed from a different team because of their connections, but you have to take a stand that your team will not be a dumping place for lazy workers.
Remember that the final resolution in this process is reporting to your superior. Try other ways of handling the lazy co-worker to avoid being the villain.That said, a lazy worker should not be tolerated for any reason; the damages created can cause a ripple effect on any company.