Co-workers Who Weigh The Team Down


One of the most difficult types of co-workers to have is one that does not carry his or her portion of the workload in the office.  We all have days when we move a bit slower, but this type of co-worker is like this on a regular basis.

For example: they wait for someone else to answer the phone first so they do not have to.  Or they see things that need to be done around the office, like trash that needs to be emptied or filing that is sitting there, but just leave it for someone else to do.  They always appear busy, but are not.

Because these employees do not step up to the plate and are not active and engaged players of the office team, they weigh down the rest of the team by leaving extra things to take care of.

As long as they have not been confronted with this issue, they feel that their behavior is acceptable.  For busy office managers this type of employee can fly under the radar unless the problem is brought to their attention to monitor and address.

Early in my career as an office manager we had hired someone who we soon found out was a “boat anchor,” she weighed us down with her unfinished work on a daily basis.  At first I thought it was because there was so much work to do, and I was so busy that I was not watching her closely to see what exactly she was accomplishing each day.

It was not until my boss mentioned to me that I could do her job twice as fast that I realized she was just pacing herself and collecting her paycheck while the rest of us were picking up the slack.

Having a “boat anchor,” your office team cannot move forward the way they need to because of the extra weight that they have to pull and will eventually tire out from trying.

Here are three steps for raising the anchor:

  1. Write specific task issues that are not being completed and spell out what the expectations and time frames are for completion.
  2. Address the fact that no one likes to pick up the slack for a less productive co-worker.  All team players need to equally do their part or they do not play on the team.
  3. Monitor progress and give feedback on improvement. This is a very important step as the “boat anchor” will realize that you mean business and are paying attention to what they are and are not doing.

By letting employees know that you are monitoring their work progress, you should have smoother seas for sailing ahead of you.  If they continue to drag the boat down, then cut them loose; your team will greatly appreciate being able to move ahead without them.



13 thoughts on “Co-workers Who Weigh The Team Down

  1. Tina – This is so true! When discussing the situation with the anchor it is important to have specific items to demonstrate the issues they are causing. Making sure it’s about the work not the person will help keep them from becoming so defensive they will not hear you.


  2. Read the brilliant ‘Tribal Leadership’ by Dave Logan for more tips on how to deal with ALL types of employees and discover what level of culture you work in at the moment. 🙂


  3. Pingback: Co-workers Who Weigh The Team Down | North Jersey Small Business Forum

  4. Great post. Can I suggest another approach is to build a sense of responsibility and ownership among all staff… certainly culture change is slow and difficult, but rewarding. Employees who do not fit with a high-performance and accountable culture tend to be exposed early, and often leave of their own volition. Let’s be honest, those who are “pacing themselves” as you describe don’t belong in a high-performing organization – and who doesn’t want their organization to be high-performing, or to work with people who are passionate about their work?


    • Hi Alex, thank you for your input. I think you are correct. I also think that we need to make sure all employees understand completely what is expected before we let them go. In some states if you do not document that you have given the employee every chance to do the job correctly and have given them the training to do so you are responsible for paying their unemployment pay. Sometimes a hiring mistake can be very costly to a company.

      Thank you for stopping by.



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