Whether they’re mooching off your hard work, taking credit for a job well done, or complaining about their inability to keep up, difficult colleagues can increase your workload and get in the way of finishing on time.

With a strong commitment to leaving the project in a better place than she found it, Katherine, a new lawyer, tag-teamed with one of her two colleagues, put in the extra hours and did her best to ignore the colleague who wasn’t pulling his weight.

“He complains about how much faster we are, but that’s only because we’re putting in four-to-five hours more time every day then he is,” Katherine shared, frustrated with his laziness. “He strolls in around 10am and leaves around 3pm. We’re here much earlier, and we stay longer,” she said, recognizing that he will walk away with equal credit for a job well done.

Anne, a talented leader, overheard this conversation, and asked a question that radically shifted Katherine’s approach with her colleague who wasn’t pulling his weight—

“If this were three male colleagues working on a time-constrained project together, do you think the two male colleagues would keep making excuses for the third one, while doing his work for him?”

After a few moments of contemplating the question, Katherine said, “No, they would put the heat on him to show up and do his part.”

“Well, maybe instead of simply picking up the slack and laughing along as he complains about this lack of contribution, ask him, ‘Why do you think you’re not as fast as we are?’” Anne suggested.

As a result of loosening her desire for perfection, allowing pieces of the work to go undone, and holding her colleague accountable for his portion of the work, Katherine gave her colleague the opportunity to begin stepping up.

Such a shift is rarely immediate, but the process is well worth the outcome of increased accountability, growth in leadership, and enhanced working relationships.

Here’s to your greatness,

Misti Burmeister

P.S. Looking for a high-energy speaker who consistently delivers actionable content? Contact me directly at 240.401.4397, or email me at Misti @ Misti Burmeister.com.