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How to Handle a Slacker Co-Worker

Ah, we know it all too well. You’re busting your hump over the midnight oil to meet a looming deadline while your co-worker is nowhere to be found.

Not only are you doing your share and his share of work, your colleagues are picking up his slack as well.

So, how are you going to handle it? First, says Annie Fisher in her column, “Ask Annie,” on Fortune, your dilemma is “far from unique.” Although it’s a hot topic and frequently occurs in the workplace, it’s rare for people to confront the culprit.

Sometimes you may just grin and bear it — the idea of confronting a co-worker you still have to see on a daily basis may seem more daunting than the work itself. Buyer beware, however: This could lead to a build up of emotions and frustrations to really blow your stack.

As for what can actually be productive in this situation and yield the results that you want (ahem, being dumped on less), start by speaking with your teammate in private. Don’t go directly to your boss as a first action (save that one for later!). If your co-worker’s been getting away with not pulling his weight in a while maybe that’s because he’s well liked or fun to have around. Keep in mind the meeting may be challenging because he is so affable.

As the column points out, it’s all in the attitude and language. Instead of entering the meeting with anger or negativity, remain level headed and simply stick to the facts. Point out the looming deadline and when it was expected you were going to split responsibilities, he was nowhere to be found and you ended up doing all of the work.

Ask some questions and flex those journalism muscles. Find out if he understood the project the same way you did; simply ask what he viewed as his role. And instead of dwelling on the past, be clear on making your point and setting clear boundaries for how the work will be performed going forward.

In a perfect world, you two will live happily ever after in workplace bliss but as for reality, if it doesn’t get anywhere the next time you’re picking up for the slacker, it’s time to involve your boss.

Ask questions again but this time get clarification on how the work will be divided and conquered. Not only should the meeting serve as a way to bring more attention to the matter and seriousness, it will show your colleague that you don’t intend to get walked upon any more.

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