I am dealing with a peer who always slacks off during the work time and expects others to help out when deadlines fall on us. We have been accommodating before but we see he is making a trend out of this, slacking during regular hours and pushing others to work extra hours to cover for his slack. How do we push back on this without coming out rude or inconsiderate?
JIB: First stop being so nice and extra-accommodating. You are not being inconsiderate, he is. You come to work place for one reason and one reason only – to work. If he slacks and then expects you guys to chip in to cover for his laziness – you are doing him, yourself and the company a disservice by obliging.
Exceptions aside, you have to stop this pattern. Here is how I would have brought this up:
Chargeable hours: Ask him how many hours he has clocked during the week. If he is genuinely putting in extra hours – then help him out. That is part of being a team. However, if he clocks in less than what is norm in the office then you need to point to the fact that others have commitments and are working around their schedule to fit in their commitments and cannot help out. Make up some excuse of having commitments with your spouse, kids, doctor etc. The more you do this the more your peer will learn that he is on his own when it comes to getting things on his plate done.
Off schedule worker: One of the most common trend I have seen with the advent of laptops and more recently the cloud technology is that work can be done anywhere. See if this peer of yours is working odd hours. By asking about his chargeable hour count you will get a sense of this. Some people are nocturnal and some work well during the day. If your colleague is putting in hours during night and cannot focus during the day and needs help to meet a deadline because he has already burned his fuel – then by all means help out. What you see in the during the office hours may not give you the complete picture on whether the person is a slacker or hard worker.
True slacker: If he is not working in odd hours and he is definitely not working during regular office hours and continues to build an expectation that others should help out – after one or two chances, leave him to the foxes. I mean it. Let him take the hit. When the management knows that he is not working he will be warned and if he doesn’t change his behavior – he will be let go. Sometimes – that’s that.
What if your slacker colleague is soon to be boss? You have not asked this question but let me cover it anyway. If this slacker colleague of yours is soon to be boss and you really don’t want to be in his bad books, talk to your coach, counselor or boss at the office and see how they have dealt with such people before. The reason he is being considered for promotion may be because your team was doing his work and he took the credit all the while OR this person may really be a people person who know how to motivate others to work. If he is a credit stealer – raise it with your boss (if you have the rapport); If he is a true motivator, let him move up, it will help your team for him to be at the top rather than by the side.