Everyone has had a lazy coworker at some point, and those that haven't probably are that person. Sometimes it can be reasonably benign; the person merely sabotages themselves by missing deadlines and finding themselves having uncomfortable chats with the boss. However, sometimes it's more troublesome, and their idleness can impact you and the rest of the team. Here are some tips for dealing with the problem:
Don't follow their lead.
Having a lazy coworker is unfair. You might be working hard, but they're visiting the restrooms and taking endless coffee breaks. It's tempting to react to this by withdrawing effort yourself and dropping to their level. The problem is, this can soon escalate into a race to the bottom, and the business can suffer as a result. Plus, management may already be addressing the matter, and joining your colleague in slacking off can damage your career. Set an example that they can follow instead.
Don't pick up their work for them.
Conversely, there is no sense in facilitating their laziness by doing their work. Coworkers get paid to do their job, so let them do it or suffer the consequences. If they get disciplined for missing deadlines, that's their fault. In many cases, the more you pick up the slack, the more they'll lean on you, and nobody appreciates a martyr. Don't clean up after them. Their actions will catch up to them eventually.
Don't resort to gossip.
You may feel better for having a good whinge to other team members, but it ultimately solves nothing. Two wrongs don't make a right, and gossip impacts the goodwill of the team. Further, unprofessional backstabbing is just as nasty as laziness. It's essential to maintain a strong working relationship with your lazy colleague, and keeping them onside makes it more likely that you'll be able to address the issue on friendly terms.
Diplomatically tackle them about their behavior.
The more the issue remains unspoken, the more it will rot. Laziness can result in a blazing row that permanently dents the relationship. A coworker's lack of initiative may be born out of a lack of clarity regarding deadlines or poor organization skills, which presents a perfect opportunity to demonstrate your leadership skills by coaching them.
The individual may also be preoccupied with a personal issue, and it's unrealistic to expect them to leave their problems at the door. A listening ear might be all they need, which will strengthen team cohesion in the long term.
Make a constructive complaint to management.
If they are intransigent when it comes to doing their fair share of work, it's a good idea to flag the issue with management. However, this can backfire. It would be best if you didn't come across as a moaner or a sneak, so it's key to outline how their laziness impacts the business and how you've attempted to deal with it.
However, even though you may feel uncomfortable, it is essential to air your grievance. In many cases, a lazy person who forces others to do their work is often mistaken for a leadership candidate with good delegation skills. No one should be promoted for being lazy and certainly not off the back of others' hard work, so tell management straight.
Laziness happens, and while some people get their just desserts, others get away with it. Sometimes it's important not to interfere; managers need to manage, and lazy employees are ultimately their problem. However, if it's undermining your job satisfaction and your success at work, take action. Laziness can be contagious, and it's best not to allow it to spread.
This article is for a general audience. I have worked in many fields of work, and I can say with certainty that everyone has lazy coworkers.
I hope this post helps you deal with lazy colleagues.