Dealing With Incompetent or Lazy Coworkers

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Dealing With Incompetent or Lazy Coworkers

Work can be a very frustrating place to be if a coworker constantly fails to put enough care or effort into his or her work. This situation can breed resentment if another worker is forced to spend time correcting this person's mistakes. But by confronting the issue directly, workers can ease their frustrations and repair the problem.

It's hard enough doing your own work most of the time, but trying to cover for coworkers who either consistently drop the ball or spend all their time socializing can make it next to impossible to keep up.

The worst part about the situation is that sometimes it feels like no one else notices that you're doing the work of two people while the person next to you is spending all of his or her time surfing the web or is constantly making mistakes. You think complaining will make you seem like someone who can't keep up, or cause discord in the office. You have three choices. You can either ignore the situation, pick up the slack or confront the problem.

Problem Coworkers

When dealing with a coworker who makes mistakes, many times you don't have any animosity toward them personally. But their frequent mistakes become an issue when they force you do to more work—whether they just make your job more difficult or you need to spend time fixing their mistakes.

Sometimes a coworker's job is the reason for many of their mistakes, according to Yahoo columnist Lisa Riggs. If their work requires very detailed data, then a few mistakes may slip by even for coworkers who spend a great deal of time checking their work. Other times a coworker may be distracted by an increased workload or even a personal problem. While those reasons aren't a valid excuse for their repeated mistakes, they do give you a little bit of perspective about how tough the job really is.

If that person is simply buried in work, it might be a good idea to lend a hand if you have the time. While taking on more work wasn't really what you had in mind, it could reduce the frustration you already felt when fixing all of the coworkers' mistakes.

Another way to help solve these issues is to offer simple suggestions on how the coworker could change his or her procedures in order to cut down on errors. Maybe you've had to deal with similar problems in the past and can offer a few helpful and friendly hints. If you're not comfortable talking to them about those suggestions, someone else in the office may be.

In other situations, your issues with a coworker have nothing to do with mistakes in their work—the problem is that they very rarely do any work at all. They spend their time socializing, taking long lunches and brown-nosing with the boss. Even with a much lighter workload, they may complain about having too much work—which will likely find its way to you.

This kind of situation can be even more frustrating than a coworker who constantly makes mistakes, because they are seemingly rewarded for shirking their own responsibilities.

Confronting the Issue

If helpful hints don't serve to fix the problem, then you need to address it directly—unless you want to deal with it forever. Postponing it will only cause your frustrations to continue to build, and eventually you may reach a breaking point and snap—saying things that could have long-term consequences.

Being proactive can help focus a coworker's effort, and help reverse their habit of letting all of the work fall to you. Business Management Daily says that coworkers can remind each about upcoming deadlines without nagging, by mentioning when specific projects need to be done. Simply checking in can send the message to step up.

If a big project deadline is approaching in the coming weeks, BMD says that asking the other what part of the project they'd prefer can often get employees to do their part—keeping all of the extra work from falling to you.

If those strategies don't work to correct the problems, then you need to confront your coworker directly, according to Business Management.

The first step when confronting a coworker, the publication says, is to have evidence that backs up your opinion. Showing how much an employee's poor performance has impacted you and others is much more effective than simply accusing them of not pulling their own weight.

Once you've made your point, the source notes that you should wait and listen for their explanation. Some people will be very apologetic and say they had no idea how much they were affecting others. In that case, hopefully your problem is solved.

Other times, coworkers may push back and say they haven't done anything wrong—despite the evidence you brought up. Business Management says it's not worth it to get into an argument with them. Simply tell them you'll have to bring the issue to your supervisor, and go from there. A supervisor has a lot more motivational leverage than you do and can take steps you can't—like a demotion or formal reprimand—to correct the issue.


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