THE BLOG

How To Work With People Who Won't Do Their Job

08/03/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

How aggravating is it when you are trying to get your work done but your work relies on other people who just don't do their job? This infuriating phenomenon seems more common than ever, and we're not sure who to blame. It's quite possible that technology is the culprit. People are so over-stimulated by millions of emails and texts and chats and distracted by flashing banner ads and the urge to update their Facebook status every five seconds that they get super confused and forget what they're supposed to be doing in the first place - their job. Well, we asked around and combined the gems of wisdom we heard from our friends and colleagues with our own proven strategies. We hope this saves you time and a little bit of frustration.

If you suspect that technology is indeed the problem, then we suggest making technology your friend by using it against your lazy enemy. If the person in question doesn't respond to your emails, then text them. If they don't respond to your texts, find them on gchat and chat them. If that doesn't work, blackberry message them. You get the idea. Try each form of communication once a day every day until you get a response. We're pretty sure they'll hate being attacked on all fronts so much that they'll actually log off of gchat, power down their blackberry, and start doing their freaking job.

Another way to use technology against someone is to employ the powerful CC. If you work at a corporation and need a co-worker's help to get your job done, CC their boss on every request you make. It may piss them off and make them feel tattled on, but having their boss aware of every job they are supposed to do for you is definitely a good thing.

If you don't think that technology is your problem after all, and instead you're just stuck with a lazy person who doesn't give a crap about helping you, it might be a little bit tougher to get them in shape. In this case, we don't suggest using technology at all. Instead, walk on over to their office and tell them in person how much you appreciate their help. Seeing you as a human being in need as opposed to an email address on a screen might help motivate them. Be careful, though. Kathleen, who works at a University's Alumni Office, says, "It's important to try not to come across as arrogant or condescending - this tends to slow the process down and create more resistance on the other end (as if you're not getting enough already)."

Another piece of advice we received might not make many of you happy. An anonymous publicist at a major movie studio said, "I just freaking do their job for them--and let it be known. And at the end of the day I hope and pray that my work will be recognized and I will be the one to get the raises and promotions." While you may not be looking for another set of responsibilities, it's true that sometimes the extra work does pay off. So if you're angling for a promotion, this may be the way to go.

Of course, one common suggestion from everyone we talked to was to fix the problem, not the solution. A retired CEO of a postal company simply said, "Fire them!" Kathleen also said, "If you're the boss, fire him or her immediately!" However, Kathleen also has some good advice for those of you who aren't in the position to hire and fire. "Bribery," she says, "never hurts, either."