Can I Help? Three Ways to Help a Lazy Co-Worker


Getting things done at work requires collaborating effectively with your teammates. And when one of them doesn’t seem to be pulling their weight, that can really drag you down. Don’t let a lazy co-worker ruin your good name. Here are three things you can do to help them kick things up a notch.

Ask Them How You Can Help

It’s often the case when someone seems lazy at work, really you just don’t have visibility into what they’re busy with. Or perhaps the problem is that they don’t know how to get started or even what is needed of them. That kind of communication and feedback is so valuable to anyone, whether they are a high performer or someone new to their job. Asking them outright how you can help them be more effective can make a big difference, both in their ability to get the job done as well as in their morale to do their best.

Remind Them of Expectations

If it’s clear that your co-worker has the tools and the knowledge they need to get the job done, but they’re still not about to do what they’re expected to do, then it’s possible that what they need is a simple reminder of what is expected of them. Pulling them aside for an informal person to person chat about what their manager expects of them can have a big impact. The important thing to remember when reminding them of these expectations is to keep it informal, don’t embarrass them in front of other coworkers, and try to really connect with them around why they are failing to meet those expectations. You may find yourself to be a mentor figure to help this supposedly lazy co-worker become a high achiever. Showing situational leadership skills like these will really help you help the co-worker, but also help the team and your overall effectiveness as an organization.

Detail the Consequences

If your support and your clarification efforts don’t result in changes in behavior, then it’s time to have an honest conversation about what the consequences of their inaction will be. This could be anything from frustration from other employees to outright termination. If they understand the consequences, they will be more understanding of the need to accomplish their tasks in a timely and effective matter. Some employees are the type to count on the support of their team members to the point of not doing their fair share of the work. Recognize whether this co-worker is trying to get away with doing less work or is just unable to meet those expectations, and tailor your response to the situation. Remember that it’s not necessarily your job to manage the poor performance of your teammate, but you can make a big difference in your team’s overall success and show yourself to be a true leader by helping everyone do their very best. Because being a leader in your job, no matter what level you were hired at is what will set you apart from the rest.

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