We know them, they are in the office, are in our department, they are everywhere.
They are the slackers. They do little, hide a lot and get by while aggravating the hell out of us.
Slackers take credit for work done by others, pretending to have contributed.
Slackers are experts at appearing to be busy and engaged. We may all get equal credit or pay but the reality is that in a group of five, at least one will not make any meaningful contribution.
Take the Slack Out
The only way to deal with the slackers in our midst is by a combination of tight management and encouragement.
First, we must have an honest but polite discussion. Preferably one on one, but if you are on a team or group of some sorts, you can have a meeting and bring the topic up. Keep it on business terms, don’t attack the person.
Try language like the following;
We need everyone to participate equally in this department or on this project. It is not only fair but essential to have everyone share the work. Otherwise, we will be unable to accomplish our goals and will make appropriate changes to address the failures of those responsible. Make it clear there will be harsh consequences for failing to contribute meaningfully.
With the warning in place, you need to designate, if in management or request such from a manager, a specific task and a corresponding time line for completion. When you designate to a known slacker, you must be definitive in what and when it is expected. If you leave anything unclear you can be sure they will exploit it.
It may be easier, though tedious, to break down the task into tiny components with corresponding timelines, or to hand feed each piece. That leaves the slacker with very little wiggle room. You should engage the slacker, being sure they acknowledge they have what they need to do the task at hand. Then you need to monitor the progress according to the time line set.
Document any failures, you will need them.
If you are not in a management position then you must get the evidence and be tactful. Ask for a review or meeting and during that time of feedback you can say you are being held back by someone who is not carrying their weight. This is a time to identify the person and specify the failures. General, wishy-washy complaints will not work. If you want management to take action give them hard evidence!
The Effort is Worth It
We must acknowledge that in any setting there will be one or two who step up and do the lions share. That is a fact of life. However that being said, we should not allow ourselves to be taken advantage.
The main thrust is to grow and improve our situations, failure to address slackers is unacceptable.
If you can either expose a slacker and they contribute or are tossed out, you will reap benefits in productivity, not to mention the stress reduction!