WORKPLACE / SEP. 30, 2014
version 2, draft 2

Lazy Colleagues: Learn the Types and What You Can Do About Them

You know the type. She is always complaining about how much work she has to do; but never actually get anything done. She often shows up late for work and for meetings. And whenever you walk pass her cubicle, she is either gossiping on the phone, shopping online or scrolling through Facebook and Twitter. The problem is that you work hard, really hard, while she manages to coast by; and no one else seems to care, except for you, of course.

But the question is: should you do anything? And if so, what should you do about it? Should you even be judging someone else’s work ethic; especially if you are not a manager? The following will help you decide whether or not you should mind your own business or confront your lazy colleague.

Susie Slacker

Unfortunately, there is a “Suzy Slacker” working in just about every office all over the world. And there’s someone, just like you, in every office who is trying to decide what to do about her. In addition, you will find some high-achievers, low ones and those who are perfectly comfortable being somewhere in the middle in every office. It is this combination of dueling personalities that helps an office to function.

But at one point or another, it is natural to wonder how the “Suzy Slackers” of the world ever land a job anywhere. Did the HR manager totally get it wrong? In most cases, professionals will appear, well professional on their resumes and throughout the interview process; but still end up being a Susie Slacker once they get the job, says Personal Finance.

And Susie Slacker rarely produces any work unless her back is up against the wall. Instead of judging, have you ever wondered why she is such a slacker? According to Personal Finance, Susie may not have the talent, knowledge or abilities to complete certain tasks or perhaps she is having issues in her personal life. But the real issue is when we measure our own productivity based on our co-worker’s progress, which can lead to either “overvaluing ourselves or undervaluing them,” says Ben Dattner, an organizational psychologist in New York and founder of Dattner Consulting, told the New York Times.

“How much time you perceive someone is working is not necessarily a valid reflection of the effort they are expending or the results they are achieving,” Dattner told the New York Times. “They may have terrific time-management skills, stay late or work weekends.”

Dattner added that they may have a justifiable explanation for their poor performance— for example, they could be under a lot of pressure due to a sick family member or maybe they are dealing with their own health or money issues. So what should you do about Susie Slacker? You can always try overlooking her behavior and focus more on how you can remain or be more productive.

And no, it is not fair that she gets paid to do nothing all day. But in the long run, some upper-level executive will notice; and she will be only hurting herself more if and when she loses her job. In the meantime, says MindTools, “let it go – focus on doing your own great work, and making sure that you get the recognition that you deserve”. But if Susie Slacker is affecting your work, then you may have to do something.

Deadweight Dan

There also is a “Deadweight Dan” in every workplace who is just a “low performer”. And he adversely influences productivity by dropping the ball on projects; and he often requires assistance to complete most of his tasks.

According to a new survey, four out of five workers are very upset with the “Deadweight Dans” of the workforce “for not pulling their weight and leaving them to pick up the slack”. The survey, conducted by Peninsula Ireland, an employment law firm, also found three-quarters of the of the 341 workers surveyed think that if and when they reveal Dan’s behavior to their manager, they will be ignored, which in turn leads to resentment, says Independent IE.

You can avoid all of the drama by, again, overlooking the situation. But just keep in mind that if you continue to enable co-workers like Susie or Dan, it could cause “a negative impact on your, or your team’s reputation,” says Mindtools. For colleagues like Dan, you do have a few options, says MindTool. You can pick up the weight for him, which still essentially is a way of enabling him. The New York Times suggest that you confront Dan before doing anything else. However, it is critical that you remain professional.

“Rather than saying ‘You’re lazy,’ give specific examples of how this person’s behaviour affected business performance, such as, ‘Last week when you were supposed to get the product report completed by Tuesday afternoon and I didn’t get it from you until Thursday, it created a delay and we weren’t able to meet our obligation to the client, who was understandably upset,’” Paul R. Damiano, an organizational psychologist and president of North Carolina-based Good Works Consulting, told the New York Times.

The last course of action is to take your issues with Dan to the HR manager. After all, the HR manager is the one who was bamboozled into hiring Susie Slacker and Deadweight Dan in the first place. Maybe, you should be asking yourself why you are wasting time dealing with staffing issues anyway. Just remember: it is difficult or even impossible to change someone who has a poor work ethic. Experts suggest that you should focus more on being the best employee that you can be.

References:

Working with Lazy People

When a Colleague Doesn’t Pull His Weight

5 Ways Low-Performing Employees Affect Everyone in the Workplace

Four out of five workers angry at colleagues for failing to pull their weight

Image Source: Afternoons turn us into lying, cheating, lazy jerks

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