So often we talk with clients or teams who are frustrated because their peers are lazy. Perhaps you’ve been there. What advice would you give to someone dealing with a slacker co-worker?
Dear Karin and David,
How do I stay motivated when my peers are lazy? I’m working twice as hard as them and I’m sick of picking up the slack. My boss doesn’t seem to notice.
Tired and Frustrated #AskingForAFriend
If Your Peers are Lazy: A Few Dos and Dont’s
Dear Tired and Frustrated,
We’ve both been there, and you have a right to be frustrated. Keep in mind that these peers are temporary, but your track record is forever. Don’t let the #$#%@#%@# slackers tank your hard work. Here are a few do’s and don’ts to consider.
- DO keep rocking your role.
Stay focused on your MITs (most important things) to serve your customers and the business. Stay creative. Chances are your boss is picking up a lot more than you know. Performance management conversations happen behind closed doors. I wish we could tell you how many performance issues we’ve dealt with that we longed to share with the high-performers we knew were frustrated, but couldn’t. Be sure you keep building your brand with a strong track record of results and collaborative relationships.
- DON’T gossip or whine about the scene.
Whatever you do, don’t let their bad behaviors turn you into a jerk. Take the high road, and count on karma.
- DO ask your boss how you can help.
Resist the temptation to start with the words, “I know we’ve got a lazy team…,” if it’s true, she already knows. Use this as an opportunity to become go-to support. With a team of slackers, she can use all the help she can get and will be grateful for your support (and a grateful boss can never hurt).
- DON’T become a victim.
You don’t have to do their work. Stay focused on your deliverables and nail them. If your co-worker consistently drops the ball, let him experience a few of the consequences. Do your best to foster a culture of accountability.
- DO build a network of support.
Seek out folks with similar ambition and work ethic to support and challenge you. Find a mentor. Seek out peers on other teams. Take on a leadership role in a professional association. Genuine connections are lighter fluid on the fire of motivation. Find people who get you and you admire and find ways to spend more time together.
- DO speak the truth.
(Or as we often say: “Ditch the Diaper Genie“) When a team member breaks a promise or doesn’t deliver on their commitment to you, it’s often useful to have a healthy conversation about it. Start by observing the behavior. e.g. “I noticed that the report you said you’d get me isn’t in my email.” Note the consequences: “We can’t take care of the customer without that information.” Then invite them into the conversation: “What’s happening there? When can you have it to me?” Sometimes just the act of personalizing work and connecting what you need to why you need it can help slackers pick up their pace.
Who wants to play? What advice would you give Tired and Frustrated?
Have a leadership or management question? Send it here and we’ll do our best to share our perspective.