The Non-Working Co-Worker

Most of us have had one of those and if you haven't worked with or around one, consider yourself lucky. The non-working co-worker. They exist and you are not sure how they get away with not working but they do.

The main reason they get away with what they do is that they are very good with managing up. They talk the talk with senior executives, the people they report to, and other people at their supervisor's level. Working WITH or reporting to them is not such a great deal. It is frustrating, PERIOD.

I have had my own experiences with the non-working co-worker and have had a lot of people approach me asking me how to deal in this environment. Every situation is different and requires a different way of handling but here are some tips that I can give you that might (might) make life a little easier.

If you work WITH them as an equal:

  • Go about your business as usual
  • Keep them in the loop
  • Do your best to keep your head in your work and not pay attention to what they are not doing, in other words, accept that there are things you are going to have to do yourself in lieu of them taking on the task.

If you work with them but do not report directly to them:

  • Keep them in the loop
  • Do not engage them directly, if you can help it. Talk to your supervisor (that is at the non-working co-worker's level), who is hopefully an ally, and discuss the situation.  As your manager they should have your best interest at heart and help you find a solution to the situation

If you work with them AND report to them directly:

  • Keep them in the loop
  • Make sure that when you have time with them ask ALL THE QUESTIONS you have that would need their input
  • There is some risk, but speak to HR or someone at your company that is more senior and is your ally -- ask them for advice on how to manage the situation.

There are many other options including asking to move to another account or area of your business and the big one -- quitting.

As I said in the beginning, most of us have encountered this type of person at some point in our career. These people are masters at being able to make themselves look good in the eyes of executive management and therefore keep their jobs (a lot of times get promoted even). Any co-worker that gets away with this behavior is definitely frustrating but even more demoralizing is leadership that doesn't truly lead.

Try your best not to let these types get under your skin. They don't want to do the work so figure out a way to play nice, get your job done, and ask for help from other people that are in a position to get you the support and answers you need.