At some point during our careers, we've all likely encountered a co-worker who wasn't pulling his or her own weight at the office. Slacking co-workers are more than just an annoyance; they actually cause their hard-working counterparts to put in more hours at the office each week. So, why do we let them get away with it?
Research shows that employees avoid holding co-workers accountable for a few reasons: they don't know how to approach the conversation; they don't feel that it's their place; they fear retaliation; and they don't think confronting them will make a difference.
Below are some tips for candidly and respectfully holding your co-workers accountable on the job:
- Be mindful of your tone. Approaching your co-worker in an accusing manner will accomplish nothing other than making him defensive. Instead, your tone should be about trying to understand where your co-worker is coming from. According to Sharlyn Lauby, otherwise known as the HR Bartender, holding co-workers accountable is about closing the "communication loop". Incomplete communication wreaks havoc on the workplace and often results in misunderstanding and mistrust.
- Phrase it as a question. Remember, you want to avoid sounding accusatory. Also, you should keep in mind the possibility that you're lacking some information that could help you better understand your co-worker's point of view. Thus, instead of saying, "You didn't submit that report this morning!", try "Were you able to send out the report before lunch?" Then hear him out. Maybe his email was down and the IT department is working on repairing it. You got your answer without accusing him of slacking on his responsibilities.
- Stick to the facts. As tempting as it might be to pepper your conversation with accusatory and judgmental dialogue, stick to the facts. This is what was expected of you and this is what actually happened. Sharing simple facts leaves little room for controversy.
- Invite an open dialogue. You've been mindful of your tone, asked questions, and stuck to the facts. Now, it's time to invite your co-worker to discuss the way she views what happened. If you want her to take your perspective seriously, then you better take his or hers seriously too.
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