Definition of slacker:
1: a person who shirks work or obligation especially: one who evades military service in time of war
2: a person and especially a young person who is perceived to be disaffected, apathetic, cynical, or lacking ambition
We all have worked with someone who fits the above definition. Working with someone who doesn’t pull their weight at the office can create stress. You may be stuck putting in extra hours to cover for them. Even if you go home on time, you may feel resentful watching them text their friends and shop online while you’re toiling away. If the slacker is impacting your ability to do your job or advance the organization, it’s time to act and use these tips to successfully work with slackers.
Tips for co-worker working with slacker:
- Focus on productivity. Start out by putting your emotions aside and figuring out whether your colleague’s behavior really affects your ability to do your job. Otherwise, it’s probably not worthwhile to pursue the issue.
- Evaluate the context. Laziness isn’t the only reason why employees neglect their responsibilities. Your colleague could be slowed down by a chronic illness or distracted by troubles at home. Best to approach the conversation with curiosity and compassion.
- Be flexible. Be open to hearing what they have to say and encourage a dialogue. This allows both parties to come to a solution that works for everyone and avoids having to get your manager involved, which is a win, win for all parties.
- Stick to the facts. When talking with the co-worker, bring specific examples of the behavior you are observing and how it is impacting you. An example, “Their leaving early required you to stay late to complete the work and not miss the deadline.” Keep your tone neutral, positive to avoid the accusatory tone that would shut the person down and they don’t hear a thing you said.
- Keep emotion out of the conversation. Don’t start the conversation until you have cooled down and can keep emotion out of the conversation. The last thing you want to do is ambush your co-worker.
- Speak with your boss. For more serious cases, consider notifying your supervisor if you and the other employee are unable to work it out yourselves. Document specific examples of how their behavior is impacting you and the business. And, leave emotions out of your discussion.
Tips for manager working with slacker:
- Discuss the mission. Employees will feel more engaged and motivated if they understand the purpose behind their activities. Talk about how their efforts contribute to the good of the organization and help others.
- Clarify roles. Make sure everyone on your team understands their individual contribution to the project. Have them tell you their understanding of their part and clear up any discrepancies. Also, make sure your team knows the timeline to avoid missed due dates.
- Establish measurable goals. Employees may underperform if standards are imprecise. Set targets they can aim for, like making 5 calls an hour or bringing in 10 new clients each year.
- Reward progress. Follow up to let employees know that their accomplishments are noticed and appreciated. Praise them for taking on a heavier workload successfully.
- Offer training. If some members of your team are falling behind because they’re unsure of their abilities, provide resources to upgrade their skills. Create online courses they can take in their free time or pay for them to attend a workshop on business writing or accounting fundamentals.
- Ask for input. Enlist the employee’s feedback on how they see the situation and give input on what they need to improve. They may be able to suggest whether they need closer supervision or a quieter workspace. This helps them feel more engaged and a part of the solution. This empowers them to put in the necessary energy for making their contributions to the project successful.
It’s better to move sooner than later when you notice someone is shirking their responsibility. Get to the bottom of what’s going on and work with them to come up with solutions to move them back to be a productive member of the team and organization. All parties involved with appreciate having them pulling their weight.
If you would like help figuring out how to work with a slacker, please reach out.