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I work in a huge company in a relatively large team of people and every week we perform small weekly projects in teams of 2-3 random people. Now recently I am being planned multiple times with colleague who is junior (he is at the company for 1.5 years already), while I am being senior (I have 3 years of experience).

The problem is, that I really dislike working with him. I have no problem mentoring a junior, guiding and helping, and I understand this is partially my job during that small project, but this guy is completely unmotivated, lazy and works extremely slow. He is a good person, but it never seems like he is willing to learn something new or try to do him job somewhat fast. Instead he is checking his phone every 2 minutes, constantly yawning and takes forever to do basic stuff, even though he knows how to do it. It feels like he spends 15% of his day on a phone. I was giving him tips on how to do stuff more efficiently, and he agrees with me but in the end there is no improvement.

What complicates this for me is that at the end of a weekly project we have to provide a deliverable report, and I cannot just say it's not delivered because of him. We have to deliver it no matter what, and since I am senior it's my responsibility it's delivered on time and in a good condition. So essentially if he works slower, then I have to work more to make up for it.

I was wondering, would that reflect negatively on me if I would ask our planning team or management to preferably not plan me with him too often? Or is it unreasonable request from me? Keep in mind that our team is large, so there are always other people who can be planned instead of him.

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Someone will need to work with him, and behaviour like this is not acceptable.

You mention you don't mind mentoring people, so there are some things you can try to keep him motivated (if you wish). Provide him a structured work load (a task list, if you will) check in with him often to see how he's getting along, and ask if he needs any assistance. Also, provide constructive feedback on his progress - "oh hey, nice work on getting that thing done quickly" or "hey, are you ready for the next task yet?" or "I see you've been stuck on this task for a while, are you still doing okay?"

You can strategically ask these questions when you specifically see him slacking, and of these questions are designed help to keep your colleague motivated in a friendly spirit without it feeling like an attack.

Certainly, this can only go so far, and we know that you only have so much patience, so once you've tried to employ the techniques and they have not worked, you can escalate this to your manager, but don't make it about you, make it about them.

Hi [manager], I've been paired up a few times with our junior staff [name] now. Since he's new, I've been doing my best to keep him motivated and on task by offering him support and checking in with him regularly, but he seems to not want to work here and is spending a lot of time on his phone or avoiding tasks. As a result, I've needed to do more than my fair share of work. Do you have any advice on how to deal with this?

Not only does this look good for you (ex, you've already taken steps, and you're looking for guidance as to further improve your inter-personal skills) - but it's escalating the issue in a very professional way. Likely your manager will say that they will have a discussion with the colleague and will now be keeping an eye on it. It's not your place to have this discussion directly with the colleague unless they report in to you.

  • I really love this answer, thanks! Our team is opposite of micromanagement, so I was always wanting to give him more freedom to work in a way he wants, and this is how I learned when I first started in this company. But I guess with him it's better to do opposite, the way you describe. – user1880405 Apr 3 '18 at 18:02
  • @user1880405 you can give people freedom if they demonstrate that they deserve it. Some people just are not wired that way and need to be prodded (at first, anyways). – caesay Apr 3 '18 at 18:05
  • I disagree on putting blame. Stating tasks that are not done or dependencies is much more professional. – Jeffrey supports Monica Apr 3 '18 at 19:27
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    @Jeffrey in this atmosphere, it's not really possible. The op is describing a short term shared project in which if the project is not done it is reflecting poorly on him. Simply letting the project fail and then blaming it on a specific task isn't possible, because the next question from the manager would be "why didn't you do that?" and then you're assigning blame anyways.. "well we gave that task to [name] and he didn't get it done". Then the manager would say, "Why didn't you help him?" etc. – caesay Apr 3 '18 at 22:32
  • @caesay, This is spot on :) – user1880405 Apr 4 '18 at 7:53
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Unless you are this person's manager/supervisor or have been asked by your manager to monitor his progress, it is none of your business how he wastes utilises his time at work. Responsibility without authority is a well known recipe for disaster.

Focus on doing your own job. Whenever your own work gets affected, point out what you are waiting for to your manager.

Task A may have to be moved to next week because there is a dependency on Task B, which is not completed yet.

Don't call names. Let management know what needs to happen for you to do your work, and let them figure out how to deal with it. If management asks you for suggestions or ideas on what can be improved, then you can offer your feedback. If they officially ask you to ensure he gets his work done, then you have authority so things should be easier.

Once he gets called into the manager's office a couple of times for a "discussion" on how tasks can be completed by the committed time, he might realize it might be a good idea to actually work when he is at work. Or he might not, not your problem.

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    Perhaps I wasn't too clear about the way our projects work, but in the end of a weekly project we have to provide a deliverable report, and I cannot just say it's not delivered because of him. We have to deliver it no matter what, and since I am senior it's my responsibility it's delivered on time and in a good condition. So essentially if he works slower, then I have to work more to make up for it. – user1880405 Apr 3 '18 at 17:54
  • I didn't ask you to say it is not delivered because of him. In fact, I told you not to do so. If you cannot talk to your manager, you cannot talk to you team member, and you are responsible for his work anyway, then sure, keep doing his work for free. I am not going to argue that point with you. – Masked Man Apr 4 '18 at 0:48
  • I just read your suggestion and it does not apply in my case. I think it's really dependant on the way projects are done. When we both work on a single project, it's very open-ended to does what, the only thing which is important is end result. We both do essentially the same things, and I cannot say that I am waiting for something because I might as well do that myself. – user1880405 Apr 4 '18 at 7:44
  • OK suit yourself. I can only suggest you to not go looking for trouble. I cannot stop you from doing so if you go ahead anyway, and it is certainly none of my business. – Masked Man Apr 4 '18 at 9:27
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Feedback is important and I believe you should share your thoughts with him directly.

However what I would do in this situation is empower the junior colleague to take the lead.

So firstly I would speak to your manager explain that you are concerned about this persons work ethic but believe asking him to take the lead and accountability for this project will give him a chance to prove himself.

If you have your managers buy in with that then you won't feel so bad if what he produces isn't at the level you would have liked.

Then explain to your colleague that you would like him to take the lead on the role, say that it's to help his future progression, or even more tell him it's part of you personal progression.

Sometimes when there is a senior person who at the end of the day is more responsible it's easy to become complacent

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