Top 5: Dealing With the Slacker

Top 5 Tips for Working With a Slacker

Every office has one…or did…a slacker. This particular breed of ne’er-do-well is both frustrating and difficult. It does not take any psychological training to work with a slacker. Use a little psychology (and some well-placed comments) to make the office a better place to work.

1. No enabling.

Do not do the work for Joe Slacker. If your job depends on Joe finishing a project, ask:

I am waiting on Joe’s expense report. Did he leave it in your office?

Keep the boss in the loop and let authority deal with the slacker.

You will not look like the tattletale of the office if the boss pages the slacker to answer for slacking.

Slacking poster

2. No encouraging.

Regardless of what Joe is doing, do your own job. Your hard work will pay off at evaluation time. Sinking to the slacker’s level makes Joe feel like he is doing plenty work.

Slackers are rarely shamed by other’s hard work. Instead, the Joe will feign exhaustion from the work being done in front of him.

3. It is the boss’ job. 

The boss bears the responsibility of overall production. If she is unaware, tell her without whining. It should not be a personal attack on Joe.

My part was complete. I had to wait for Joe’s numbers to take the report to the printer.

The tactic of telling your boss your project would have been finished far sooner had not the slacker been preventing your progress prompts the boss to investigate the slacker’s non-productivity.

4. Cut him off.

Is Joe interfering with your work?

I am too busy for your proposition of a cup of coffee.

Coffee LOLLet Joe know he is unwelcome in your work space for anything other than work-related issues.

By simply stating you have too much real work to do than time to spend recreating, you tacitly let the slacker know you are onto his slacking.

5. Be patient.

In the end, Joe always falls victim to the axe. Focus on your job, and this time will fly. Joe’s permanent coffee break will become his profession, opening advancement opportunity for anyone willing to work as hard as you do.

Hard Work Pays Off

Slackers are never good office mates. Rest assured, you will not have to work with them long.


How do you deal with slackers? Feel free to be blunt.


(c) Ann Marie Dwyer 2011
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  1. James Parsons

     /  November 16, 2011

    It seems as if there are slackers in every kind of workplace. And know matter what you or anybody else says to them it doesn’t help to motivate them in the least. We deal with it until something is done or the slacker looses there job.

  2. So, what happens when the slacker is, oh say . . . the boss’ “work wife” or “bromance” or appropriate same for a female boss? Basically, the boss is total aware of the situation, but likes the ego boost and will simply re-distribute the slacker’s workload. It happens all the time. As a matter of fact, I’m learning that is happening more and more. Another question, what if its the boss that’s the slacker?

    Maybe I’ve worked in some rotten environments, but then an aweful lot of people I talk to have had the same experiences.

    • If the top link in the chain of command is the problem, I advise changing departments or jobs. I am going to post a Top 10 in this series which addresses exactly how to deal with the slacker/dysfunctional boss. The plan works. It netted me a lucrative job.
      Your discovery is a widespread one. There is a decided decline in the work ethic, especially in the last 20 years.
      Why do you think companies allow the “work wife” or “bromance” on the job?

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