Three Professional Ways You Can Call Out Your Unproductive Colleague

Every day you show up to work, and you have your pile of tasks and assignments that you need to power through. It’s understandable that you get frustrated when you spot that one team member who isn’t carrying their weight and just sits, twiddling their thumbs or having coffee maker conversations. You know that you aren’t your co-worker’s manager, so you don’t want to reprimand them, but you also want them doing their job. What do you do? Try one of these three phrases to nudge them in the right direction.

“If This Doesn’t Get Done…”

Many people focus only on the action instead of the results. It’s the reason why people end up in situations that they don’t want to be in. There’s a chance your co-worker is stuck in that trap. They might not be thinking about the consequences of not finishing a particular project. Consider gently reminding them that if they don’t complete their work, there’s potential for a domino effect of negative results.

“The Boss Expects Us to…”

Being a tattletale isn’t something that you want to be unless the situation is dire, but that doesn’t mean you can’t remind your colleague of your supervisor now and then; especially when they aren’t carrying their weight.

Unfortunately, your co-worker might not care about your opinion of them or their work ethic, but there’s a good chance they care about your supervisor’s. Professionally remind them that your boss is expecting the project to be completed by a specific date, and build up a sense of urgency by saying your supervisor might not be happy if it doesn’t get finished on time.

“Can I Help You?”

Take a step back and consider the fact that your team member isn’t lazy or unproductive. It’s possible that your co-worker isn’t making any progress because they’re stuck, have questions, or feel overwhelmed. Offering to help your colleague shows that you really are part of the team, and it lets the person know that you’ve picked up on their lack of work (if they are actually slacking).

Keep in mind that unless you’re the boss, it’s not your job to look after each person that you work alongside. You have your job to do, and it’s vital that you do it. However, when working amongst a team, if one person is slacking, it means that everyone else needs to pick up the extra weight. Offering an unproductive co-worker a nudge forward while encouraging them to remain focused can help everyone, and the above phrases can help you inspire them without stepping on any toes.


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Three Professional Ways You Can Call Out Your Unproductive Colleague

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