Lazy Co-workers, What Do I Do?

Now that I’ve addressed the main addressable points about working with lazy project managers, let me leave you with some general points.  First off, if you want to (and you WANT to, I know) resolve your problems with lazy people in general, this resolution comes through direct communication and documentation.  In fact, document EVERYTHING.  Any request you know that was made and not fulfilled, mark it with a description, date, and time (and if you want, a severity level).

As you’re documenting problems, instead of becoming bitter and upset, go speak WITH them and tell them exactly what you’re having problems with.  A manager looking into the issues will generally begin by asking if you have contacted the person and expressed your concern.  Much like sexual harassment, if you haven’t notified the party that you’re uncomfortable with their behavior, how do they know there is a problem to fix?  You most likely won’t receive an immediate resolution to your problem, but you may be pleasantly surprised that they are interested in your opinions and your issues, and work to correct them.

More often than not, simply talking to them won’t fix the problem.  This pulls us back into documentation.  Should I say that again? DOCUMENTATION!  Now, I don’t expect you to follow their coat tails around and mark down everything they do, nor would I ever incite anyone to do so, but you need to take notice (more than with any of your other coworkers).  I know that you can’t keep track of all of their accomplishments (again, nor would you want to), but you CAN keep track of the failures.

When you go into your or their boss’ office to discuss your issues, simply saying that things aren’t getting done is not enough.  If you can show them a full page, or three, of deadlines that were missed, communications that were ignored, and actions that failed to take place, the look on their face will be somewhat priceless as they now have to do something about it.

The best part about this approach is that their manager now actually has something to act ON.  They will be able to see that the person ignored 25 emails from you in a month’s time (that’s verifiable via the technology to send email), they ignored 8 deadlines and let them pass with no concern (this also can be verified), and they failed to act on things that needed to be done on five separate occasions (usually verified via email or group consensus).  This gives them grounds for a reprimand (if one is in order), or even a firing should the situation continue to perpetuate.

What other methods do you use when working with lazy people?  Any tips for the rest of us?  Please discuss with me in the comments!