At any given time, in any given job, you will find yourself working with people displaying a range of competencies. Coworkers can vary from absolute experts to how-on-earth-did-he-ever-get-this-job deadwood. The latter can be frustrating – particularly when you find yourself frequently having to cover or compensate for his shortcomings. What do you do?
Think before you speak
Let me begin with a caution. No matter how bad you believe your coworker to be at his job, if his actions are not directly affecting you, then the only appropriate course of action is to do and say nothing. Why? Because if you’re not directly involved, there is always a chance that you are not aware of outside influences and other factors that may be impacting his work. Seemingly odd or inappropriate behavior is very often explained with a better understanding of an overall situation.
The last thing you want to do is risk wrongly accusing coworkers of incompetence. That would make you the Coworker from Hell.
5 Steps to Helping Your Coworker
But in those situations where you are involved, and you are being negatively affected, here are some steps you might want to consider:
1. Offer to help out. Be supportive. Many times the behavior we perceive as incompetence is a result of a lack of confidence. Give him moral support and see if things don’t improve.
2. If the first step doesn’t work, talk to your boss. Having said this, make sure you don’t just dump all over your coworker. Be positive. Identify your coworker’s positive attributes, and suggest that it might be in everyone’s best interests for him to have some additional training.
3. If #2 doesn’t work, try to distance yourself from your coworker as much as possible. It may sound harsh, but you don’t want his performance to impact yours.
4. If #3 doesn’t work, it’s time to begin evaluating your options. If you absolutely can’t continue working with this individual, and your boss is showing no signs of improving the situation, you may want to begin seeking other opportunities either inside or outside of your company.