The Unseen Costs of Slacking

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Over at Ask a Manager is some excellent advice for anyone in the potentially demoralizing situation of having a co-worker who seems to be getting away with being a slacker:

Some people react to working alongside slackers by lowering their own standards -- figuring that there's no reason for them to work hard when clearly no one is going to intervene if they don't. Other people react to it by getting increasingly agitated and resentful, which is where I think you are right now. Neither of those are particularly good for you, though. The first ends up harming your own professional reputation and comes with opportunity costs down the road. The second is terrible for your mental health and day-to-day quality of life.

Instead, I'd try reframing it in your head. I know it must feel like your co-worker isn't getting any negative consequences for her behavior, but that's almost certainly not true. There's at least one unavoidable consequence, which is that she's building a terrible reputation for herself. Even if your boss is clueless, other people around your colleague are seeing her behavior. At a minimum, she's missing out on the reputation-building that doing good work will provide, but it's also pretty likely that people are actively forming negative impressions of her. You, on the other hand, are presumably creating a strong reputation for yourself, one that will pay off for you later on when you're looking for jobs in the future. Don't underestimate how valuable that is. [bold added]
This solution elegantly avoids both the career and mental health pitfalls of the two most common kinds of reaction to this common problem.

-- CAV

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