Bad Co-Workers: 8 Tips to Deal with the Slacker

It would be so great to find that dream career and go to it each day with a song in your heart knowing that you and everyone there will work as the powerhouses you are.  Unfortunately, the truth of the matter is, you will inevitably run into co-workers who will make it challenging to keep that song going each day.

You may run into a Slacker who is so lazy they can barely breathe on their own.  This is the kind of person who misses deadlines, requires you to push or prod to get assignments to you on time or even waits so long to do something that you have to do it yourself.  You’re left wondering why they haven’t been fired.  It wouldn’t be so bad, but their slacker tendencies directly impact the work you do.

You may feel like it’s not your job to make the Slacker perform.  I understand, but the question is:  Are you willing to fail because you can’t/won’t solve this problem?   Problem solving isn’t just about increasing sales; it’s about solving problems anywhere in the work place.

Here are 8 approaches/tips for how to improve this situation:

  1. Identify the root cause.  This may take some keen observation and probing questions.  More than likely, you will discover more than one issue at play with the Slacker.  You may unearth things like: poor time management, poorly trained or incompetent, prioritization issues or lack of motivation.  You have to understand the problem before you can solve it.
  2. Discuss your needs with the Slacker.  Don’t assume the Slacker truly understands your needs.  Sit down with them to discuss:  what you need, how you need it, and when you need it.  Specifically ask them if they are committed to satisfying those requirements.  This also becomes the basis of follow up conversations, if needed.
  3. Reinforce good behavior.  All of us become much more motivated when someone likes or notices our efforts.  Make sure to notice the things they do right and let them know.  You will discover they will love to do things for you because you are so gracious.
  4. Send reminders.  Unfortunately, a great deal of the population needs reminders to keep deadlines at the top of their mind.  Don’t be timid about sending a couple of them; or drop by their office and remind them in person.
  5. Check in.  As you’re doing your reminders, ask a specific question about the work they’re doing for you.  You may discover they are stuck and you can help.  This is also a way of holding them accountable, as well as helping them solve their own problems until they get the process down.
  6. If they fail, let them know.  Sometimes people don’t fully understand the impact of their failure to perform.  You don’t have to be over emotional, but you do need to let them know how this impacts your work.  Don’t let them off the hook.  Most Slackers got that way because people kept letting them be Slackers. Let them slide once or twice, but let them know by the second time that if the issue persists you will be forced to escalate it to the boss.  Don’t make threats without a willingness to see it through.  Just like a dog or child, there has to be repercussions for a failure to perform.
  7. Document your efforts.  It’s important to recognize that if you’ve given your best effort to help this person, you may need to take the issue to the boss to correct.  You will need to lay out all you’ve done to solve the problem; and the best way to do that is to have a paper trail.
  8. When all else fails, take it to the boss.  You need to understand that the boss is not the first line of defense.  They expect you to solve most issues whether it is with a co-worker or a client.  If you take it to the boss, you must make your case professionally, with documentation and a clear discussion on what will happen next.  You have to demonstrate your attempts at solving this issue before involving management.

Slackers are often fairly charming people to be with.  This doesn’t mean you have to pick up the slack for them.  You may find that you’re the first person who has actually had high expectations of them and helps them to meet those expectations.  It can be frustrating, but the situation can improve due to your efforts.

The sign of a good leader is understanding how to avoid and/or prevent slackers within the workplace from impacting your performance or attitude. Discover more leadership traits with a leadership degree from this website.

Being able to avoid slackers in the workplace, and keep up with your responsibilities is something that sets you apart from your coworkers. It shows your ultimate growth potential.

Dorothy Tannahill-Moran is a certified life and career coach. She works with aspiring professionals who are looking for career growth, advancement and entry into the “C” suite. As well, she works with people to overcome the sometimes daunting task of changing careers. With over 21 years in management, Dorothy has coached, trained and guided other professionals who have gone on to impressive and fulfilling careers. Her personal philosophy about careers is: “It’s not JUST a job; it’s half your life – so love your career”. You can check out her resources, blog and services at Next Chapter New Life and MBA Highway.

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  1. Hardy Citrus says:

    The slacker may well be considered a superstar. He may be just making up the numbers that management wants to hear and making all sorts of promises to the customers that have never even been documented. But be careful, everyone probably thinks he’s a great guy.

    The slacker is probably not alone, he is part of a posse of slackers who vouch for each other. Office romances acted out at the 8th grade level are common. They don’t want change, and they don’t want to see other people taking classes or getting certifications. Their ability to multiply gossip makes them powerful.

    Also, the “slacker” is probably working quite hard, running a side business from their desk. The slacker IT person may be diverting new customers from the company to the side business he’s running during office hours..