A slacking co-worker can cost you 6 hours of more work

Published: Friday, March 8 2013 6:12 a.m. MST

A recent study showed that having a slacking coworker is apparently ordinary. Ninety-three percent of those surveyed said they worked with at least one co-worker who didn’t fulfill his or her work load.

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Your co-worker checking Facebook on the job could mean six hours of work on average for you, according to a recent study by the co-authors of New York Times Bestseller Crucial Conversations.

Having a slacking co-worker is apparently ordinary. The study showed 93 percent of those surveyed said they worked with at least one co-worker who didn’t fulfill his or her workload whether intentionally or unintentionally.

“Sometimes it’s probably not people being intentionally lazy,” said Joseph Grenny, a co-author of the study. “Maybe they overcommitted and shouldn’t have promised it to begin with that they were going to do this or that assignment.“

Distractions vary, but 64 percent of surveyed employees said they visited non-work related websites while on the job, according to a study by Salary.com. The most commonly visited was the 41 percent who checked Facebook followed by 37 percent who checked LinkedIn. Overall, this is 10 percent lower than the previous 2008 study.

Although the time wasted by co-workers leads to more work for others, those with the added load still said they didn’t think it was their responsibility to address the issue, according to the Crucial Conversations study.

“We feel like we’re not empowered, that it’s the bosses job because they are the person that has the performance review with this person,” Grenny said. “We take ourselves off the hook when the truth is, this is exclusively an issue with me and my colleague.”

Only 10 percent of those who acknowledged an issue were willing to deal with it. Some of the reasons workers are unwilling to speak with their colleagues are that they don’t think it will make a difference, don’t want to undermine working relationships or don’t know how to say it.

Realizing it’s a peer concern that needs to be dealt with personally is the first step in handling the situation, Grenny said.

He also gives these other suggestions for having a non-confrontational discussion about what he calls the gap of expectations and results.

Get rid of judgment

Not assuming the reasons why the work isn’t getting done is a critical step before actually talking to the individual. Maybe they weren’t just being lazy. Maybe it’s really an off day because something terrible happened.

Whatever the case may be, Grenny said accusations are like venom that will build resentment. If this is set in you before talking to the person, the discussion will go badly.

Create commonality

The complaint should not come out first. Show that you care about his or her goals and express yours. Creating a mutual purpose forms a safety net for both of you.

Describe factually

The expectations and results should be described factually without any personal observations or opinions. It highlights the gap showing what happened as opposed to what was needed. Don’t accuse. Explain simply.

Invite them to discuss

After explaining the concerns, ask your co-worker what he or she thinks could be done to prevent similar situations in the future. This allows the individual to explain the point of view as well as come up with a solution jointly.

EMAIL: alovell@deseretnews.com

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