When Co-Workers Don't Pull Their Weight

I work with three other people. It's really hard to get them to do things that need to be done. Sometimes I have to tell them twice, and it makes me really angry because I feel I shouldn't have to say things over and over again. Even writing "things to do" on an easel for everybody to see doesn't work. What do you think I should do? -- JK

Question:
ABOUT THE EXPERT

Read more

Dear JK:

Are you sure it's your job to whip everybody else into shape? Few people are as unpopular as those busybodies who take it on themselves to order others around. And I don't know anybody who responds well to accusatory criticism, even if it's legitimate.

So if it is not your job to manage your co-workers, speak with your manager. No good manager wants to get involved with personal issues among employees. Instead, approach the matter from a "task" point of view. For example: "Boss, it seems to me that for our group to be effective, we need to make sure that some specific things get done and that there are no duplications. It would really help us all if you could determine which tasks each of us is specifically responsible for. That way we can be accountable for them, and I think work will go much more smoothly. Would you please consider this idea?"

You can use the same approach if it is up to you to sort out this problem. The idea is to persuade everyone to participate, become accountable for certain duties and thus create a win-win situation.

Remember that people who are always "right" or who always have to be "right" are highly unpopular. Sometimes it's wise to let go of some of our ego for a greater good.

Answer: