Dear Barb – Talking Slack

Dear Barb:

I graduated from AU last year and a few months ago I began working at a new position. I was really excited to be finally starting my career. I work with a team of five other people. Our boss assigned a project for us to work on for the next three months. Initially things were great, everybody was excited and enthusiastic about the project, however now a couple of people seem to have lost interest, one in particular, and they seem to be leaving most of the work up to me. I don’t know what to do. I don’t want to go to the boss with this issue and cause all kinds of problems with my coworkers as I am the junior person. Do you have any suggestions on how I could handle this situation without my coworkers viewing me as a trouble maker? Thanks Kathleen.

Hi Kathleen:

Great question! This is an all too common scenario in the workplace. Recently 550 employees participated in an online poll and 93% admitted that they work with at least one person who is not pulling their weight. Before you go to your boss with this issue, you need to try to resolve it yourself. I agree you don’t want to be seen as a trouble maker, but rather as a team player. Try to discuss the situation with your co-worker to find out his perspective.

Is there a reason why he is not doing his fair share? It could be a misunderstanding, perhaps he saw his role in this project as doing something different than what he is doing. If that is the situation, you both need to sit down and discuss what you will each be doing and be very clear about your roles. Try not to be confrontational. You are not the boss; you are equals working on a project, hopefully with the same ultimate goal in mind. Possibly your co-worker may not feel qualified to do what is required. If that is the case then he may need to go for further training, or, if possible, you could offer to help. He may have personal problems that are distracting him from work or may simply be the type of person that allows others to take on the bulk of the workload.

If nothing works then you may need to go to your boss, but don’t go alone, take your co-worker with you. At this point you could openly discuss the situation and hopefully address what is really causing this person to slack off. The burden of resolving this situation will then fall to your boss, which is where it should be. Hope this information helps.

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