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slackers

Difficult personalities in the workplace #3 – Slackers

It can be very frustrating to have someone in the office who always disappears when you hand out tasks or who you end up helping because they don’t pull their weight. Other words that we use to describe them are work-dodgers and clock-watchers.

What is a slacker?

Slackers are people who avoid work or effort – the person in a team who avoids responsibility and does not pull their weight. People are unlikely to pull their weight when:

  • They feel their work has little meaning or value
  • The value of their own contribution is indistinct (“If I wait long enough, someone else will volunteer to do it.”)
  • Their team doesn’t feel like a real community

Why is it difficult to work with a slacker?

It can be very frustrating to have someone in the office who always disappears when you hand out tasks or who you end up helping because they don’t pull their weight. Other words that we use to describe them are work-dodgers and clock-watchers.

Is it really possible to work with a slacker?

The best way to deal with slackers are ensuring that the three criteria mentioned above are addressed. If each team member can see the value of their own contributions, they will be more likely to step up.

The slacking manager

You have to be very careful if you decide to confront your manager or go over their head – it can get messy. Rather assess how much stress the extra work puts on you; if you can handle it, stick around and focus on building your career. Ask if you can take lead on a few projects that interest you. Chances are your manager won’t mind dodging the responsibility and this way you build your resume for future opportunities.

The slacking colleague

Be aware of your colleagues who are free-riders. Never offer to do someone else’s job; if they really struggle, offer to show them how it should be done rather than taking over the responsibility completely. If their slacking doesn’t affect your ability to do your job, don’t get involved. Otherwise, try talking to them compassionately rather than just accusing them, and give them a second chance before you speak to your manager.

The slacking employee

Structure your company more like a community than a battleground and keep teams small. Give everyone in the team an opportunity to share their innovations rather than making it a competition. When your employees feel that their contribution matters to you, they will contribute more. Never take responsibility away from one employee to give it to a more reliable employee; this will lead to unbalanced workload and low team morale.

The slacking client

Typically, it won’t be your problem if your client is a slacker, but it can present certain problems. This type of client may be unreliable in getting important information to you, or expect you to do more than they pay you to do. Just be strict – don’t do any work you don’t get paid for. Don’t be afraid to invoice them for extra work and remind them that deadlines won’t be met if you’re waiting for information from them.

Be careful not to confuse someone’s slacking with them being overworked themselves. Keep in mind that it might also be because this individual is having a difficult time in their personal life, but if the problem persists and it affects your ability to do your job, it might be time to move on or let them go.