The Do’s and Don’ts of Dealing With a Slacking Co-Worker

tm5Here is an excerpt from an article written by Kerry Patterson for Talent Management magazine. In it, he acknowledges that most workers are familiar with working with a colleague who may not always hold up his or her end. Dealing with that person is a delicate and strategic issue. He offers sound advice. To read the complete article, check out all the resources, and sign up for a free subscription to the TM and/or Chief Learning Officer magazines published by MedfiaTec, please click here.

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Everyone has worked with or managed someone who is less than stellar when it comes to doing his or her job. Human resources executives consistently receive complaints about people who aren’t up to speed, maximize their own group’s results at the expense of others and give the wrong tasks top priority.

The bottom line being that their colleagues end up having to carry part of their load. Of course, their colleagues are already up to their neck in their own assignments, so inevitably, quality suffers. According to research from corporate training and leadership development firm VitalSmarts, four out of five employees say the quality of their work declines when they have to pick up their co-workers’ slack — a huge blow to the bottom line when you consider that the research also said 93 percent have a co-worker who doesn’t do his or her fair share.

In most companies, these types of infractions go unaddressed. After months of suffering silently, the following often ensues: Employees formulate their complaint, rehearse the face-to-face discussion, step up to the plate and explain their concerns — to their spouse or best friend. Their spouse or friend says they’re whining; they say they’re rehearsing.

Either way, they’re not talking directly to the person who caused the problem in the first place because they’ve let it go for a long time and it seems unfair to bring it up now, it’s not their job since the person in question doesn’t report to them or they don’t know exactly what to say or how to say it.

Moreover, the longer individuals go without saying something to slacking co-workers, the worse it will get. The study from VitalSmarts revealed that only 10 percent of employees speak up and hold underperforming colleagues accountable. As a result, slacking co-workers cause a quarter of their hard-working colleagues to put in four to six more hours of work each week.

Fortunately, as individuals learn to speak honestly, directly and professionally, they can permanently resolve the issue. Talent management professionals can help increase accountability and productivity in the workplace by coaching employees on how to effectively hold their slacking co-workers accountable using the following tips.

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To read the complete article, please click here.

Kerry Patterson is the co-author of Crucial Accountability and is the co-founder of VitalSmarts, a corporate training and leadership development firm. He can be reached at the firm.

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