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Working with the Office Slacker

Do you dread working with an unmotivated colleague? Modern Manners Guy shares tips for tackling unpleasant interactions with the Office Slacker.

By
Richie Frieman,
May 28, 2014

In the workplace, you'll find go-getters, but you'll also find people who are just going through the motions.  There's the person who gets along with everyone...and the person who is content to just sit at their desk until 5pm, not interacting at all.  As much as I prefer to be around the former, sadly, being motivated in the workplace is not a given. You'll meet people who run the gamut of productivity.

It’s inevitable (and unfortunate) that you will have to work with the Office Slacker. Being a driven person, you may feel inclined to “fix” them. You know, offer some advice to give them that little boost they so badly need.

But what if they're perfectly happy with their lackluster performance? How do you handle working with this person?

Sure, it’s different strokes for different folks, but if the very thought of seeing your coworker every day fills you with dread, you might feel in desperate need of a job change.

Well, my mannerly friends, don’t stress out too much. The answer is pretty simple, and it's not what you think.

Too often, people want to be fixers, rather than allowing things to lay as they may. This is where issues arise.  When you are adamant about trying to fix people, it can push them farther away.  Now, as much as I enjoy offering advice, I know that some people may not enjoy hearing said advice.  

I've also learned you can’t win ‘em all, and that’s not a bad thing. In fact, it’s actually rude to assume you can change someone who - although they might not be super productive - isn't doing anything actually harmful (other than annoying you). 

When you get stuck working with the Office Slacker, a “low task - low relationship” employee, it’s only proper to focus on the work and not the personality. Think of this as a mental boot camp: How you can push yourself  (and the Slacker) to get the job done?

If the Office Slacker is simply lacking in social skills but gets the job done, that's one thing, but if the Slacker reaches of a level of laziness that jeopardizes your work and your performance, you need to have a manager intervene. And if you truly find that you are going mad having to deal with them, take breaks from the relationship. Try to communicate via email rather than in person. Divide the job into smaller parts and assign due dates for each one. Limit the actual interaction and focus on the job at hand. Let's face it - the sooner you can finish it, the sooner you can get away from the Slacker.

As always, if you have another manners question, I look forward to hearing from you at manners@quickanddirtytips.com. Follow me on Twitter @MannersQDT, and of course, check back next week for more Modern Manners Guy tips for a more polite life.

Do you have any recent graduates in your circle, or perhaps someone who is looking to start a new career, check out my new book, Reply All…And Other Ways to Tank Your Career for great tips and advice on job success. It's available now!

Slacker image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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