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Get Rid of Needy Co-workers Once and for All

Tags:  Difficult co-worker, Job stress, Needy Co-worker

Julie is a struggling single mom of two who tends to mope more than cope with her current situation. She has dragged her coworkers into her personal life by regaling them with her sad stories about a cheating husband who abandoned her and refuses to pay child support.


Instead of doing her work she spends much of her work time on the phone dealing with her problems or telling others of her woes. Her coworkers often find themselves stuck with her workload because they feel sorry for her and don't want her to get fired.


Howard is probably one of the sweetest people his coworkers know. He would go to the ends of the earth to give them the shirt off of his back. Unfortunately, he is slow at his job and often makes mistakes which they have to correct.


He has been warned by his supervisor that he needs to improve his performance, but even the supervisor has gone out of his way to give Howard some leniency because he is just so nice.


If either of these two people sound like someone you work with, it's time to rethink how you're dealing with the situation. Enabling them to be underperformers or to single-handedly affect the work environment not only is unhealthy for you it is unproductive for the team and provides no incentive to either person to correct their personal situation.


If you feel the need to extricate yourself from the influence of a needy coworker, here are some concrete steps you can take.


Recognize the problem. First and foremost, it is important to understand exactly what the issue is. In Julie's case, she talks too much, both on the phone and with coworkers, and this excessive talking takes away from her ability to perform her duties. For Howard, he appears to lack the skills necessary to do his work. Once you have determined what the situation is you will need to figure out steps you can take to correct it.

Tackle the problem. As a coworker, your role may be one of a little 'tough love.' That means you no longer listen to Julie's stories and you no longer pick up after Howard. Politely ending the conversation when Julie starts or gently encouraging Howard to work faster and more accurately may be in order. Don't wait until the problem festers and you become angry.

Escalate the problem. Coworkers can only do so much. And if you have done all you can and provided as much support as possible, the next step is to get your supervisor involved. Privately discuss the issue with your boss and seek their guidance and assistance in dealing with the situation. It is their responsibility to monitor performance as well as coach their employees.

Eliminate the problem. Without being nasty or rude, your only alternative may be to just cut the person out of the equation. Ending the relationship can be difficult because you work with the person on a daily basis, but it may be the only thing you can do. Privately and politely explain that their issues are affecting your work and performance and that you can no longer be there for them.


Working in this type of situation can deplete your energy and negatively impact your performance. Choosing to take action may be the only way to get rid of needy coworkers once and for all.


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