Few colleagues and I are currently under probation in a web developing company. We have assigned specific tasks. Some of the tasks may look difficult so we often brainstorm and work together to solve them.

However, one of our colleagues is major in hardware rather than programming skills (the reason he got hired is probably due to the lack of manpower). Due to this reason he finds it hard to catch up with us. Considering that we may work together in future and I really do view colleagues as teammates, I often guide him side by side although it may waste some of my time instead of doing my work.

The point is that I soon feel that he has put neither passion nor hardworking in doing this. I don't feel that he puts any visible effort to try to catch up with us. This makes me question myself whether it is worth to teach him. Besides that I really dislike the style he looks for help because most of the time he asks for a solution rather than trying it out first. Sometimes I feel unfair that he is getting higher wages than me (my own fault for not requesting for higher salary during interview) for contributing only a little in doing teamwork assignments.

Am I being to strict in this case and have to chill out for this? Or should I just leave it be and continue to teach him?


He asks for solutions, you give him solutions. There's no pressing need for him to figure things out when he gets solutions easily from you. The system will continue to be in equilibrium until an external force disturbs it.

If you dislike giving him solutions, stop doing it. You need to use "controlled" passive aggression to wean away help vampires. Instead of giving him direct solutions, force him to work his way through the problems.

For example, when he asks, "How do I fix this error?", respond with:

"What does the error message say? Can you figure out what that means?"

and so on. To avoid this descending into a "20 questions game", redirect him to documentation or other resources after 3 or 4 questions:

You will have to refer to the documentation / contact the code author to figure this out further.

Then drop out of the conversation, and don't get sucked into it further. Procrastination is also an effective tool to deal with various workplace problems:

I'm sorry, I don't have the time to look into this right now. Let's meet for 10 minutes tomorrow evening (!). Try to figure it out as much as you can until then, we will continue from there.

Keep doing this until the equilibrium is disturbed and he "gets" the message that he won't get direct solutions from you any more. At that point, he will either learn to try figuring this out or bother someone else1. Either way, not your problem.

Unless you are the coworker's manager, it is not your problem if he isn't "hardworking" or "passionate". It is managers' job to manage, let them do their job.

You focus on your own job. Sometimes your job includes "helping" your coworker, in which case, communicate to your manager clearly in terms of impact to your work, without finger-pointing. Thus, instead of, "I'm unable to do my work because I have to help John Doe.", you say:

John Doe needs some help with bug #5678 in the Foo module. Thus, release of feature #1234 on the Bar module will be delayed by a day. Which of these tasks should I work on?

Then leave it to the managers to decide the priority, and do what they ask you to do.

1 If you don't like the idea of deflecting the problem to another coworker, you could, of course, point that coworker to this answer. :-)

  • 3
    A friend of mine was in a similar situation, with a collegue asking tons of question. She just decide to ignore all questions (it's easyer as she work in remote), and begin to answer ten minute after the first message. Usually, the problem is more lazyness than that he's really stuck, so he find the solution during this ten minutes. – Kepotx Aug 7 '18 at 8:05

I did a degree that touched upon a number of things, including Web Development, Hardware and Software development but by no means made me an expert in any of them. I've just recently started a Software Development job after being in Project Management for a few years, and I can sympathise with your colleague because it sometimes takes a little extra time to get on your feet.

Your colleague may have demonstrated other skills which was the reason why they were hired, not necessarily that the boss needed the workforce as hiring the wrong people can often be counter-productive.

I can understand from your colleagues point of view that things may be daunting but it's usually a part of every job, especially a new company where everyone will be getting up to speed in some way shape or form. The worst thing you can do is continue to give the solutions, but maybe point your colleague in the right direction as suggested and explain that you have a job to do also. Maybe if you have a shared workload you and your colleagues could give him some of the less difficult things to start with until he starts to get more up to speed. As he learns, you'll see his contribution will likely increase as his confidence grows.

Looking back, it will probably turn out to be a positive experience for you, especially in a new company where you can make your mark.


It is laudable you are getting out of your way to help so much a colleague.

If as you say, you are busy with your own assignments when asked for help, or you are pressed in time, you have to communicate with your colleague you are busy, and will help him when you can.

It might not be entirely bad making him waiting a little, and figuring out in his own some answers.

As for being too available, you might be spreading yourself too thin. There is helping, and there is doing the other people work.

As you rightly say, this person might not be cut out for this type of work. You might be enabling him to continue to fake through his job, and be a roadblock down the road in your work.

Ultimately, you have to work first in your best interests. Please note that I am not endorsing not helping others, I am just putting forward the idea you have to set limits for that. Beware also of creating precedents, this colleague might be already taking for granted too much help.

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