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Is the millennial workforce really that lazy or just misunderstood?

21st April 2015

How do you deal with a lazy colleague, new millennial or otherwise?

Here are 5 Top Tips to deal with it

I read a very interesting article on CNBC.com today about the frequent complaints about millennials by their older colleagues. Entitled, lazy, narcissistic and addicted to social media. Those are just some of the common complaints about millennials by their older colleagues. I recommend you read it too! Fascinating stuff!

So do you think millennials (FYI, it’s those who born in the 1980s and 1990s, who grew up in the digital age, and became fast adapters of social media and smartphones; older millennials who entered the job market during the downturn that followed the Sept. 11 terrorist attack, and younger millennials came of age during the Great Recession) are really that bad, or just misunderstood?

According to consultant Lindsey Pollak who comments on the matter in the article, and who is also author of ‘Becoming the Boss: New Rules for the Next Generation of Leaders’,  the laziness label, for example, may just be a reflection of millennials’ comfort level with technology. These guys have grown up with Google and GPS-enabled smartphones and they know how to find all the answers with just a few clicks of a button.  As Pollack continues, “Laziness is actually the ability to have all the information in the world at your fingertips, so you’re going to take the quickest, easiest route. It’s not that millennials don’t want to work hard, they just want to know why they are in their role and what the larger goal is.”

She certainly makes a very interesting point. However, for the purposes of this blog, let’s look at it in a very black-and-white, typical day-in-the-office, way. Do you work with someone who often disappears from the office, takes extended lunch breaks, or makes lots of personal calls all day?

Perhaps they frequent the rest room or surf the web all day, while you toil to keep up with your daily workload!

It’s not uncommon to come across a lazy co-worker and they’re not always easy to deal with. Moaning and whining probably won’t get you anywhere – but there are a few things you can do to lessen the problem.

Here are five great tips for dealing with them:-

  1. Don’t get distracted

Don’t spend your whole day focusing on the fact that your lazy colleague is constantly checking Facebook, texting or making another private call at the desk next to yours.

Try to tune them out and focus on your own work. People are funny that way – and will spend more time focusing on the fact that our colleague isn’t doing their work than it would take to just do it ourselves.

  1. Don’t get caught up in ‘fairness’

Life isn’t fair. People will often say “it’s unfair that he gets away with doing nothing”, however at the end of the day it doesn’t really change anything.

By pointing out that it’s not fair, we just make ourselves feel bad and the situation doesn’t change. Instead, focus on being the best that you can be.

  1. Don’t whine!

Whining may only make you be seen as a ‘jobsworth’ type who has nothing better to do than tell tales, so don’t do it – but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t speak up.

This one is tricky and it really depends on the situation and the boss. Some bosses might say: “Thanks for letting me know. I’ll investigate” – while others will tell you, “It’s not your job to worry about your co-workers’ performance.” It could make you look bad.

However, if you go to your boss and say, “I’m at a point where I can’t go any further with the project because I’m waiting for Tom to finish his part – what can we do about this?” it gets the point across without you seeming like whiner.

If they explicitly ask you to review you co-workers’ performance, then you should be honest and factual about what you have personally seen and experienced (not what others may have told you).

  1. Don’t pick up their work

If you’re on the same team or share the same responsibilities, don’t pick up the work they aren’t doing. Remind them of the tasks and deadlines, but don’t let babysitting your lazy colleague consume too much of your valuable time.

A lazy colleague can easily hinder your own progress. If your boss notices that the work isn’t getting done, don’t let the blame fall on you.

This is your opportunity to speak up, if you haven’t done so already.

  1. Speak with them

He or she may not be lazy. Instead, they might just be very unclear of their tasks, goals and deadline. Sometimes it’s not that they’re lazy, it’s that they don’t have a good way of organising and prioritising their work or managing their time.

There’s always a chance that they’re preoccupied with a personal matter, too. We need to remember that life happens, and they could be distracted by a health issue or family problem.

Want to read the rest of the Top Tips?

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