Problem solved – timewasters

My timewasting colleague, who’s worked for my employer longer than I have, always avoids being caught surfing the Internet or making personal calls. What can I do without being a telltale?

Rely only on what you see yourself, not office gossip – your ‘lazy’ colleague may work longer, unpaid hours and feel entitled to some leeway without explaining himself. If so, there’s clearly a management communication issue but your initial criticism may not be wholly fair, especially if others are clockwatching.

Assuming you’re correct, can you casually ask to hand over some excess work, or make innocent remarks that make his dubious website visits or regular personal calls publicly obvious? This may result in a better attitude. But if he becomes hostile, don’t make threats or let the situation escalate – go to your manager. If you retreat to your work, keep an accurate written record of what happened – you’ll need specific times, dates and remarks if things have to be taken further later.

Slackers rarely hide their reputations for long. It’s likely your colleague’s actions aren’t going unnoticed. His work may be incomplete, late or error-ridden. Watch how he acts around others, those with whom he’s more wary may have had prior cause for reproach – can you sound them out? Remember though, people can be supportive until they have to stick their own necks out. Be sure any allies will commit themselves if a disciplinary hearing is called.

If your appraisal is imminent, raise the issue with your boss, who may already be aware (managers are human, after all – they avoid conflict). Your complaint may provide the motivation to finally take action. But don’t wait until an appraisal if the situation is more serious.

The reality is that many freeloaders don’t care what others think. However, they seldom enjoy stellar career paths. It may be small comfort right now but the good guys do still tend to win in the long run. And one last thing – make sure you are not committing similar timewasting tactics.