Whether you’re the boss or an equal, if a coworker isn’t pulling their weight it’s going to affect you and the whole team.
When one or more coworkers in a team are lazy it means others have to work harder, frustrations creep in, morale goes down, resentment brews, and more.
So, addressing the issue and getting your coworkers to pull their weight and do their fair share is crucial.
To help you out, here are 10 tips for dealing with coworkers who don’t pull their weight:
10 Tips For Dealing With Coworkers Who Don’t Pull Their Weight
1. Speak with Them and Find out If There’s a Problem
If a coworker obviously isn’t pulling their weight the first thing you should do is speak to them about it.
Depending on the person and your relationship with them, this is something you need to approach in a tactful way.
If you’re close with the person, then a face-to-face conversation is probably best.
But, if you don’t know them that well or you think they might react negatively to a personal conversation, then send them an email.
The important thing is that you express your concerns without being confrontational or accusing them of anything.
The goal is to find out if there is anything bothering them or causing them to be demotivated so you can help find a solution.
2. Offer Them Some Support
Whether you’ve found out why they’re not pulling their weight or not, if you’re in a position to offer them some help or support, you should.
It’s possible that a friendly hand is all they need to help them get back on track.
If you’re their boss, then this is definitely something you should do.
But, even if you’re not, there are still ways you can support them.
For example, if you’re good at a certain task they’re struggling with, you could offer to help them out or show them how to do it.
Or, if you know of any resources that could help them, let them know.
Sometimes all people need is a little push in the right direction.
How receptive they are to help and what happens going forward is going to tell you a lot about whether or not they are trying to change.
3. Do Things to Motivate Them
If helping your coworker directly who is not pulling their weight is not an option, then you could try and motivate them indirectly.
A great way to do this is by setting a good example yourself and involving them in what you’re doing.
If they see you working hard and being successful, then it might inspire them to do the same.
Another way to motivate them is to give them praise and recognition when they do something well.
Even if it’s just a small thing, letting them know you noticed and appreciate their efforts will go a long way.
4. Never Get Involved in Conflict with Them
When dealing with a coworker who isn’t pulling their weight, it’s important that you never get involved in any conflict with them.
They’re likely to be defensive when questioned about their workload and how much they’re getting done.
So, if you start to argue with them or get into a heated discussion, it’s not going to help the situation.
In fact, it will probably make things worse.
The best thing you can do is stay calm, avoid getting emotional, and try to see things from their perspective.
If nothing seems to be working and they don’t start pulling their weight there are only so many chances they’ll get before finding themselves under a performance review.
5. Understand What Their Limitations Are
It’s possible that too much is being asked of them and they’re trying their hardest but not able to put in a fair share of the workload.
In this case, it’s important to have a discussion with your boss about the situation.
There’s only so much one person can do and if they’re being asked to do too much, it’s not fair.
At the same time, you don’t want to make excuses for them or try to cover up their laziness.
The goal is to find a balance and make sure that everyone is doing their fair share while realizing that everyone has their own capabilities.
6. Escalate the Issue if Needed
If you’re not superior or in charge of the coworker who is slacking and nothing you’ve tried seems to be working, then you might need to escalate the issue.
This means going to their boss or HR depending on how your organization is structured and letting them know what’s going on.
It’s important that you do this as a last resort as it could have serious consequences for the person and it’s probably going to damage the working relationship between the two of you.
But ultimately you are doing everyone in the team a favor as it’s only fair that everyone is pulling their weight and giving 100%.
7. Improve Communication All-Around
Communication is everything in a workplace where you have to work with others, and even when you don’t have to work with others a lot of time.
When trying to deal with a coworker who isn’t pulling their weight, part of the problem could be that there’s a communication breakdown.
It’s possible that they’re not aware of what’s expected of them, they don’t understand what they need to do, or don’t realize others think they’re not pulling their weight.
If you can implement group meetings, facilitate chat groups, and generally improve communication it’s sure to help in some areas if not resolve the issue.
8. Don’t Feel Like You Have to Pick up The Slack
No matter how frustrating it is to see someone not pulling their weight, it’s important to remember that you don’t have to pick up the slack for someone who isn’t doing their job.
You might feel like you need to do more or take on extra work to make up for their laziness but that’s not your responsibility.
It will only lead to burnout and resentment on your part, and it’s not going to solve the problem.
The best thing you can do is focus on your own work and let them deal with the consequences of not doing theirs.
9. Focus on Yourself and Your Own Goals
In the end, the best thing you can do when dealing with a coworker who isn’t pulling their weight is to focus on yourself and your own goals.
It’s not worth getting wrapped up in their drama and it’s not going to do you any good.
The best thing you can do is stay positive, keep your head down, and focus on what you need to do.
I know you probably want to be a good team player, coworker, and demonstrate your willingness to help others, but you need to question at what cost.
Don’t let yourself get pulled into their negative energy and lose sight of your own goals, it will only drag you down.
10. Don’t Try and Make Them Feel Bad
This is probably one of the worst things you can do when dealing with a coworker who isn’t pulling their weight.
Trying to make them feel bad or guilty about the situation is only going to make things worse.
It’s not going to help them improve their work ethic and it’s only going to damage your relationship with them.
If anything, it will make them resent you and they might start trying to sabotage your work or make your life difficult.
The best thing you can do is stay calm and try to be understanding, even if it’s hard.
It’s OK to lend a hand as a concerned coworker, but stick to the correct channels when escalating the issue, and don’t take matters into your own hands.
Stay professional at all times and make sure you’re giving 100% to your own role and tasks, it’ll catch up with the coworker who isn’t pulling their weight.
Image credits – Photo by Elena Rabkina on Unsplash
Phil lives in England, UK, and has around 20 years experience as a professional life, career and executive coach. He started this blog to help others find and define their own self development journey. Blogging about a wide range of topics to help facilitate a better future.