If you’re reading this article, you’re probably already thinking about a colleague of yours who puts the lazy in laziness.
It might be difficult to tell if someone is lazing around or if they are genuinely busy with work. But whether they are just incompetent or merely mastering the art of procrastination, there are the telling signs of a lazy co-worker. It might be the extra breaks they take throughout the day or going on leave before they complete their tasks. They may also sometimes delegate so much of their own work that it’s puzzling what they are actually busy with on a workday. They may look stressed and tired for reasons only known to them.
Nonetheless, you’ll find that their work is usually sloppy and not up to standards or that they’re always missing deadlines.
There is at least one lazy worker in every company and they are not the easiest to deal with. But here are seven tips on how to manage lazy workers that may help alleviate your stress.
7 ways to deal with a lazy co-worker
Dealing with lazy co-workers can be a handful and there is usually no easy way to resolve such issues. If their behaviour persists, it will become a real problem as it might affect the team’s efficiency and overall performance. Furthermore, confronting them alone and directly might do you more harm than good, but there are a few actions you can do to help distract yourself from the issue and keep your mental health in check.
1. don’t get distracted from your goals
Don't waste your time thinking about that lazy co-worker who is always on Facebook or texting and taking naps when they’re working from home.
They’re not going to care about how you feel, so why should you? No one likes a lazy person and you're probably not the only one who feels this way. If you spend your time and energy fretting about these lazy co-workers, you’re just distracting yourself from the important things in life. Instead, you should spend more time focusing on your own work priorities.
It is more important to take advantage of the precious opportunities that come your way and look after your mental health.
2. keeping your mental health in check
One of the best things to do when you're feeling annoyed or stressed is to take a deep breath - count down from 10, and then breathe out. You should be able to calm yourself down from a stressful incident by doing the breathing exercise for a few times. Breathing exercises can also help prevent you from reacting negatively to a situation which you might come to regret later.
You could also try to spend more of your personal time on activities that bring you joy. For example, you can find a hobby like cooking or exercising. These are activities you can add in your daily routine as a new avenue to express yourself positively. You could also curate a new Spotify playlist with upbeat songs to lift your mood everytime you start to feel a little annoyed.
3. think before you act
We should always act wisely when it comes to dealing with lazy colleagues. Before reacting to any situation, you’ll need to ask yourself - how do you want to be perceived by others in your team and the wider business? Bear in mind that behaviours such as gossiping or lashing out are often seen to be unprofessional. The worst case is when your boss feels that you’re too emotional and that you don’t have the traits to become a trusted leader based on how you react to tough situations.
Just remember, you are a valuable member of your team. The management team might already know who’s working and who’s slacking off and they are probably just waiting for the right time to correct bad behaviour.
4. stay positive
Your workload and performance may take a hit if you spend too much time focussing on other people. These “what ifs” and “how could this have happened?” can harm your mood and strain your relationship with your colleagues. But be careful there, because being around a grumpy colleague is as bad as working with a lazy co-worker.
You are guaranteed to deliver higher quality work just by staying positive. Redirect your energy to your own work and job performance instead. Stay focused at work so that you can earn the promotion that you’ve been looking forward to!
5. push back when you can
Don’t let yourself fall into the trap where their work becomes your responsibility. Oftentimes, lazy colleagues delegate their tasks to other people on the team, and they may even frame it in such a way that they are helping you develop your skills at work.
You know that they have deliberately passed their work to you because you’ve seen Instagram Stories of them having fun after work while you work overtime to complete their tasks. These lazy colleagues may even claim credit for your work, which can be very frustrating.
To avoid being in that situation, you need to learn how to push back when you can. If they start to get defensive, ask them to explain how working on the task can help with your career growth; or what were the events that led to them missing important deadlines. Most importantly, make sure that all your communication with them is done via emails or text messages in case you need to reference them in the future. It is very critical to learn how to take advantage of digital solutions and leave digital footprint as they serve as evidence that could do you a favour in the future.
We live in a world where project management tools such as Trello boards or JIRA are a part of our everyday work routine. Tag your lazy colleague in tasks so that they can be held accountable for the projects and deliverables.
Another good thing about using these new digital solutions is that they automatically track project progress and edit history, so it’s easy to know who has worked on the tasks and who hasn’t. While these functions are mostly used to track past work edits, you can use them as evidence to show that your colleagues have not been pulling their weight at work.
6. approach them professionally
If you feel like you need to speak out, don’t go to your management team immediately. It’s all about timing and preparedness. If you speak too early, it may come across that you’re gossiping or complaining about a colleague, which may give a negative impression.
Instead, practice proper business decorum and have an open discussion with your co-worker. These discussions may also help clear up misunderstandings as they might not actually be lazy. They could be struggling to keep up with their current workload, tasks and deadlines or have personal issues that are distracting them from work.
You may be wondering, what should you say to a lazy co-worker?
Approach them in a supportive manner where you can openly discuss the problems and come together to align on your goals, deadlines and commitments in specific details. Rather than passing judgment on their work performance or, worse, their character, clearly explain how their task, if left undone, has a direct impact on you and the team. Let them know where you think they can improve and how you would like to see them support the team’s efforts.
It would also help if you write down your points before you speak with them so that you don’t miss anything out.
You should also not approach them when you’re enraged (see point 2). Try to share your viewpoints in a clear and objective manner. If you start the discussion with a short fuse, you're more likely to lose your cool and that’s only going to aggravate the problem.
While it is uncommon, addressing these issues upfront in an honest but respectful way might sometimes be enough to resolve the situation.
7. reach out to your manager or HR
If all else fails and you can't really handle your lazy colleague, then it’s probably time to reach out to people you trust for advice on how to resolve the issue, such as your manager or the HR team.
But before you reach out to your manager or HR, come up with a plan and think of the ideal end goal. What do you hope to achieve from reaching out to them? Do you wish for the HR team to speak to your colleague and hope for a positive change in their working attitude? Or do you need the advice on how to best approach your lazy co-worker to reduce any unnecessary stress?
You should also note that there is a fine line between gossiping and complaining about your colleague and being genuinely committed to seeking a fair resolution. This is when the evidence that you have collected may be helpful. Help your bosses understand the situation from the very beginning and give full details of everything that you’ve tried to do to resolve the conflict.
When speaking to HR and your manager, keep a neutral tone and always wait for them to finish their sentences before you reply. Make sure that your sincerity in getting professional advice is also reflected in your body language.
Nonetheless, keep an open mind and remember to stay professional throughout the process.
when you had enough of your lazy co-worker
If the negative work environment is affecting you too much and it is starting to take a toll on your mental health, then it's time to consider looking for new employers that can offer a healthier and more positive work environment.
There may be times when the problem is much bigger than you think, such as working in a toxic environment where the company normalises poor and unprofessional behaviour. Or it could be your boss practising favouritism which means you’ll forever be at the losing end. If that’s the case, perhaps it’s time to consider looking for new employers that can offer a healthier and more positive work environment.
Reach out to Randstad and our team of expert consultants who can help guide you along in your career planning and job search journey! Alternatively, you can move away from your toxic and lazy colleagues by browsing our job listings and applying for a new job.