What you should do if you have a seemingly lazy colleague

a man slacking at work

Do you have that one colleague you can’t stand because they just don’t seem to be doing work? Maybe it’s arriving late at work, taking an unreasonably long lunch, or clocking off way too early before 6pm?

If their sluggish actions aren’t directly affecting you, it’s good to let go. However, if it’s slowly eating into your workload, maybe it’s time to raise it to the management. But before you make your way to the higher-ups, try to see if you can keep it low-key. Here’s what you should do if you have a seemingly lazy colleague.

Schedule for an honest talk

Humans are quick to judge. To save you from embarrassment, it’s good to schedule an honest talk with your coworker.

Putting emotions aside, enter the conversation in a neutral stance. Let the other party know that their work habits have been affecting you trying to complete your tasks. Then, ask if there are any reasons behind their actions. Chances are, you might find out a thing or two about their circumstance.

Guide, don’t do it on their behalf
guiding a colleague at work

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Maybe you’ve spoken to your colleague and realised that they are just pure lazy. Should that be the case, don’t do their work on their behalf.

Such workers can be very skilled in persuading people to take on their responsibilities, so the last thing you want to do is fall into their trap. For example, if your coworker doesn’t seem to know how to do basic editing via Photoshop, suggest courses for upskilling. Or, if you have extra time on your hands, record a video and provide step by step instructions to aid them.

Distract yourself from distraction

Lazy colleagues can become a huge distraction if you allow them to. That is, you authorise their behaviours to take your focus away on the urgent tasks at hand.

Instead of spending the entire day’s energy complaining or being frustrated at how they chitter chatter or aimlessly scroll through their social media accounts without doing much, distract yourself from that distraction. You can choose to work somewhere else where they are not in sight or put on your noise-cancelling earbuds to tune them out.

Be explicit on what you want to be done
colleagues having a conversation

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As we come to the end of this article, know that there are people out there who constantly require pushy nudges. You want to be clear on what needs to be done with such personalities.

Tell them exactly when you need the task to be completed and make sure your team is in the loop on the matter. When there are more eyeballs on the situation, this will at least point that particular colleague to get up and get moving to meet the deadline. It’s also a great chance to see if your coworker is genuinely lazy or simply lacks the initiative to get started with work tasks.


How to deal with a micromanager professionally

colleagues at work

Micromanagement is such a pain in the arse. At a point in our careers, we might have been faced with a micromanager some time, somewhere. But many out there may not even know that they are being micromanaged.

So what are the common signs of micromanagement? Here are eight common ones from such bosses:

  • Little or no work delegation
  • Always asking you for updates
  • Show a reluctance in mentoring
  • Finding fault in everything you do
  • Famous for one-way conversations
  • Sole decision-maker even for the littlest of tasks
  • Like to focus on the small details but miss out on the big picture
  • Delay project deadlines because everything requires their “yes”

If you suspect that you’re whirled up in such a situation and it’s taking a toll on you, act on it before you explode.

Here are some ways to deal with a micromanager (or colleague) tactfully. Fictitious names included!

#1: Have an honest heart-to-heart talk
coffee conversation

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As a micromanaging superior, Peter might not be very welcoming of criticisms. Be sensitive when dealing with this. When we say to have an honest heart-to-heart talk, we mean a candid but specific conversation.

Bill Gardner, founder and managing partner of Noetic Outcomes Consulting, suggests this with over 40 years of experience coaching executives. You want to describe your feelings when Peter’s behaviours directed at you make you feel X, Y, and Z. Then, go ahead and list some specific actions you hope to see going forward.

Now, some of you must be thinking this is impossible. As Asians, we may not like to confront head-on. But grow some guts, and you never know positive outcomes could snowball out of your truthfulness.

#2: Be direct with your requests

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During your conversation with a micromanaging boss, you want to be direct with your requests. Ask Sally what you can do better to address her needs. Even if she responds with a “but you’re already doing well”, don’t stop there.

Share with Sally your intention of improving collaboration with her. If you’re the sort that requires time and space to prove your work capabilities, let Sally know.

Instead of her chasing you for updates as and when she pleases, take the initiative by scheduling weekly check-ins. This can become your silent way of saying, “Please stop checking in for information outside of our scheduled meetings.”

#3: Ask questions to understand their point of view
an asian woman asking questions at a business meeting

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When you’re pulled into a project meeting, don’t just let John do the talking and then complain about him during lunch hours. To attempt to make your life a little better, you want to understand your manager’s perspective.

To do so, ask questions.

Katharina Schmidt from the Forbes Coaches Council shares that these questions might guide you towards a better working relationship:

  • What are your deal breakers?
  • What are your success hypotheses?
  • What are your key objectives for this initiative?
  • How, and how often, do you want to be informed?
#4: Focus on behaviour and impact

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When having any conversations with Zelia, you want to avoid the “m” word – that is, “micromanaging”. What you can do is to focus on the behaviour and impact it has on you.

For example, Zelia’s need for constant updates on your progress is one such behaviour that has impacted you. Let her know that these updates are taking extra time off your productivity and attention on your urgent projects at hand.

See if both of you can negotiate an alternative solution to that. Maybe setting a fixed time for updates can help you better manage your working hours?

Don’t be afraid to offer new ideas.

#5: Identify your superior’s end goal
Two young businessmen discussing new project

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Conflicts often arise when two people are not on the same page. To stand on the same ground as Raju, you want to align with his end goal. April Armstrong, CEO of AHA Insight, notes the power of the “then what” question.

Ponder over these:

  • After I complete this assignment, what happens next?
  • If this were to be a big success, what would the ideal outcome be?

When your destinations are in line, Raju may see you in a different light. It can also prompt him to release his grip on his control over you and your teammates.

#6: Keep your eye on the curveballs and overdeliver
asian woman drinking coffee while working in a cafe

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For folks currently facing your first micromanager in your job, the whole experience can be daunting. But don’t waddle in the toxicity and put yourself at risk of being sour over it.

Understand that micromanagement is often a result of these two reasons:

  • The fear of being disconnected leads Carrie to find out as much as she can through countless updates like reports, meetings, and one-on-one conversations.
  • Carrie finds it difficult to transit from a position of doing to a trusting and coaching managerial position.

Jill Hauwiller, the founder, principal consultant, and lead executive coach at Leadership Refinery urges us to find out what our manager values and wants. Anticipate the unexpected and overdeliver on your promises.

This is because even if you can’t change their micromanaging behaviour at the end of the day, you have your great results to back you up. Your successful work output is something no one can take away from you.

Put on a little smile
two women having a conversation

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Remember our recent article on “Strategies on how to cope with someone you dislike at work”? When working with people you find difficult working with, communicating your points across calmy without being defensive is essential.

Jeff Altman, a career coach from The Big Game Hunter, said that smiles and laughter often go a long way toward making a point with people. So put on that big, friendly smile before you enter into any discussion with a micromanager.

Career and people skills take time and deliberate effort to develop. Don’t quit your job on impulse.


Strategies on how to cope with someone you dislike at work

workplace meeting

There’s always an Anson, Betty, or Christopher in the workplace. We’re sorry if those are your names, but we have no ill intentions. They are just some named references we will be using for the sake of this article.

Now, back to the topic.

It’s Tuesday, and you’re dragging your feet to work after barely getting over Monday blues. As the elevator door closes, you secretly wish that you won’t meet Delia on the way up to the 13th floor. But… we’re all aware that life’s a bitch and things don’t go our way when we expect it to.

“Oh, hi, Eric!” Delia shrieked. It was only 8.25am.

Delia went on and on about her last evening date with her boyfriend, gossips, and eavesdrops from the passengers she saw on the bus. “Another day with her,” you thought. It’s only the start of the day, but you already hate her so much, and everything just gets on your nerves.

We’ve all met that one colleague at a point in our careers, right? Have you found a way to work around it? If no, see if these tips can help you change your perspective in working with someone you can’t stand at the workplace.

#1: Admit that it’s your problem
a stressed out man

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Never thought we would hit a home run by pointing fingers at you right from the start? This is not an attack, peeps.

Carlos Valdes-Dapena, author of Virtual Teams: Holding the Center When You Can’t Meet Face-to-Face, shares this with us. The reason why you’re finding Delia distasteful in some way is due to the judgments and reactions you possess.

Yeah, sounds about right. Feelings of a slight irritation can quickly escalate if not kept in check. He also highlights the need to differentiate between dislike and distrust. “You can work with anybody as long as they aren’t crossing boundaries or violating workplace rules,” says Valdes-Dapena.

#2: Rethink your detestation
woman sitting on a couch thinking about something

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Once you assume responsibility that your emotions are what led you to loathe Anson, then it’s time to rethink your detestation. Maybe it’s a specific behaviour that triggered your dislike? Or the way they treat others? It could also be that he is an excessive bootlicker.

Whatever the reason might be, you want to dig deep into your feelings of disgust. Valdes-Dapena reveals that he used to have a colleague he didn’t like and he later discovered it was because of how the lady tended to boast.

“Once I got underneath it, I realized that part of my feelings (was) jealousy because she had done some pretty impressive stuff,” he commented.

The person you disfavour is likely to be someone who’s on the extreme opposite end if placed on a character spectrum. Polar opposites, some like to call it. But you must learn how to separate your personal feelings from the workplace. If Anson does his work well, then you’ve got to give him the credit where credit’s due.

#3: Craft a purpose statement
women having a discussion

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So you just got out of a department meeting, and your team leader has assigned you and Betty a project. What? Working with someone you like the least is not an easy task. That’s why Valdes-Dapena notes that this is where a purpose statement comes useful.

“A purpose statement helps you build an alliance around a shared purpose. It doesn’t mean you have to be friends. It helps you get back to the purpose of the collaboration so you can focus on doing the work.”

Very well said, indeed. Instead of focusing on those negative feelings, having a goal will help put you back on the work treadmill. Here’s your chance to show that you can function as a team player and won’t let personal emotions sabotage your workplace professionalism.

#4: Draw up a plan
two persons having a discussion

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So at this point, can we safely assume that you will craft a purpose statement? If yes, we’re genuinely glad for you! But don’t exit this article just yet. As a small incident can spark negative feelings fairly quickly, you want to draw up a plan to fall back on when it happens.

“Sit down and have (a) conversation,” says Valdes-Dapena. It’s going to be a duo project with Christopher, and you want to make sure that your targets are aligned. It may also help to share your shortcomings and present an invitation for Christopher to share his. The discourse can humanise Christopher and encourage you to refashion any prejudices against him.

If it helps, share your purpose statement and plan with a trusted coworker or your team leader to have accountability for your actions. Every single time you feel the dislike arising, refer to your goals. It also won’t hurt to set aside time for self-reflection if you need space to process your feelings.

It’s a tough challenge but pull through it, and you might surprise yourself with an achievable productive work relationship!

#5: Communicate calmly
communicating calmly

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More often than not, unhappiness accelerates due to our communication styles. Putting work relationships aside, this is true in any social situation. Even at home, your parents shouting at you or each another can instantly put you in a bad mood.

What you want to do is to communicate calmly when a conflict presents itself. Instead of saying “Can you stop doing that? It’s irritating!” try using “I” in your confrontations. For example, “I feel annoyed when you do this, so could you please do this instead.” Being specific is also a chance for you to evaluate the underlying reason for your irritation at the other party.

According to psychologist Dr Susan Krauss, it could be wise to have a third-party function as a mediator in such discussions. That’s because as an “outsider”, they can bring some objectivity to your case.

Take a chance

The bottom line is that you don’t have to be friends to work with someone. What you need is a way to communicate your points across without being defensive.

Working with people you find difficult is not easy for sure. But if you manage to leap over the hurdle, you would be oh-so-proud of yourself! Take it as a step to graceful maturity regardless of your age.


Rethinking gender bias scenarios at the workplace with a life and career coach

Women Leaders

It’s 2020, but we’re still hearing stories of gender biases and barriers especially towards women at the workplace.

“Often, we allow the negative stories to take hold, for instance, “you’re not good enough”, “what are others thinking of you”, “you’re too bossy of a lady”, and the list goes on,” states Janice Chua, life and career coach at Janice Chua Coaching.

Instead of entertaining the negative voices, Janice advises us to turn it into awesome stories about ourselves. Here’s how to do it.

#1: Rethinking the label of ‘dragon lady’

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“If you’re called a ‘dragon lady’, start thinking about the qualities that are attached to that persona. The ones that usually come to our mind by default are tough, domineering, scary, and fierce.

Take away the word “lady” and what comes to mind when you hear the word ‘dragon’? Possibly, strong, powerful, majestic.”

#2: Rethinking the label of women being ‘more emotional’ than men
Stressed woman

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“Being ‘more emotional’ can work in two directions – being perceptive of others’ emotions (inward) and displaying one’s emotions (outward). Being more perceptive of the emotions from others can definitely help women be better bosses, as they would be viewed as empathetic and understanding. That is, they have a ‘heart’. Displaying one’s emotions more readily allows others to better see what’s going on with you.

Obviously it doesn’t help if one is prone to frequent outbursts of anger, or tears. A controlled amount of emotions helps others see a woman as a human being, especially if she has the reputation of being a “dragon lady”.

#3: Rethinking being the minority gender in the boardroom
Minority gender in the boardroom

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“If I know I’m going to be the only woman walking into the boardroom, I tell myself that all eyes are going to be on me. Walking into the room, I have to maintain a strong posture and exude confidence and not allow myself to just blend into the background.

Instead, I will make myself stand out, so the room will listen when I speak. Dress professionally, speak with a strong voice, and be confident and clear all around. And stop wondering what the rest of the room thinks of me.

Be clear on one’s intentions when you walk into the room. Once you’re clear on your own agenda and intentions, you can then contribute clearly. And when you’re clear with your message, the room listens – regardless of your gender.”

#4: Rethinking the idea of ‘taking care’ rather than ‘taking charge’ as men do
Listening to a colleague

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“It’s true that women tend to take more care of the people around them. That’s just how we’re wired. We’re more attuned to how others are feeling, and oftentimes, our maternal instincts kick in, regardless of whether we have children. When women show they care for the others in the workplace, they invite trust and understanding from the others.

When implementing changes in a workplace, a woman can “take care” by seeking the opinions of the other employees, letting them know that she is taking their feedback into consideration. When employees feel that they have been heard it’s easier for them to take on the changes that get put in place.”