I'm fresh out of college working in an IT company. I'm really enjoying myself and am working on a small project with 5 others.

However one of the other developers (all senior to me) is really bad at his work, unfocused and does not perform.

I know it's really not my direct problem since I'm not in a great position to change this. However I can't help to feel that this reflects on my work, directly or indirectly (ie. the customer expects a certain amount of work to be done by 5 people and the rest of us need to work harder to pickup his slack). It's also harder for me to help him do his work and my work, than to just do his work myself.

I've given this problem a bit of thought and I'm not sure how to tackle it.

I have a few solutions:

  1. Avoid this person, try not to get tasks near him or his work and just ignore him.
  2. Tell my boss about my concerns.
  3. Be strictly professional. Help him only when asked and do my work to the best of my abilities in the hope that my boss will notice this.
  4. Try to educate and improve this employee by being helpful and inspiring.
  5. Leave, there's something wrong with a company employing this kind of person.
  6. Others?

There's no personal conflict involved at all.

=== Edit ===

Work is divided into tickets, which are assigned a estimated time to finish. The time estimate is decided by the team together. Tickets are divided among the team members by the team, but with a manager present. The amount of work is by each team member is recorded as well as the actual time a certain task has taken.

However, estimates can be wrong and there's a good understanding about this. It's easy to say "we estimated this to 8 hours but it was really hard to do, so we need to change the estimate".

This being said, I feel that both the managers and the team members has a good understanding about each others strengths, weaknesses and performance.

  • You could choose to stop doing his work, but will the rest of the team?
    – user8365
    Sep 18, 2014 at 18:22
  • 3
    Welcome to the business world.
    – Telastyn
    Sep 18, 2014 at 18:24
  • 1
    The team has work to do and this work is divided between team members as tickets. When you're done with your ticket, you get an other one. So let's say that I work 10 tickets while he's doing 1.
    – sensitiveQ
    Sep 18, 2014 at 18:26
  • 1
    @sensitiveQ then it should be clear to your boss, from ticket assignments and numbers of tickets completed, who is actually doing the work.
    – mcknz
    Sep 18, 2014 at 18:38
  • How does work get assigned? Is there a team lead who hands out tickets, or do you just pick one, or is there an automated queue, or what? (This would affect your options 1 and 3, and maybe 2.) Please edit that into the question. Thanks, and welcome to The Workplace. Sep 18, 2014 at 18:51

3 Answers 3


Welcome to the working world, which is unfortunately full of relationships like this. If you decide to leave over this, you will probably find yourself in a similar situation down the road.

I would opt for a combination of #3 and #4 you've listed above. If you attempt to do his work for him, that will work out badly for you most of all.

Keep as good of a record as you can of your interactions. If there's something you need that he is supposed to provide, send an email to him as a reminder. When he asks for help, summarize the help you provided in an email and send it to him.

Leave your boss out of it as much as possible -- only escalate to that level if there's no other option. If it comes to the point where you need to involve your boss, then you'll have a documented history of where your co-worker has not performed as expected, and where you've attempted to help.

  • 1
    I don't see why this has been downvoted. Part of the challenge of integrating in different work environments is that you'll have to learn to deal with all sorts of people, wherever you work. Although reporting to the boss as suggested by the other answers may work at times, learning to work with different kinds of people is an important skill that comes with experience and helps shape good leaders.
    – Gigi
    Sep 18, 2014 at 22:23

My answer comes from experience with this. I have been in both positions, as the slacker, and as the one dealing with the slacker.

When I was the slacker, one of my mentors mentioned it to my boss, and all three of us had a discussion which helped me realize that my time goofing off at work was having an effect on my coworkers. Keep in mind this was when I was an intern at my first job!

When I was the one dealing with the slacking, I similarly went to my boss and complained. Sure enough, he was aware, but by my complaining, this allowed my boss to get more information to put together a case for firing the slacking coworker. Eventually, the coworker was fired, after being given numerous chances to change ways.

My opinion is to talk it over with your boss. Try to be positive about it (no whining or accusatory tone). Things like "Slacker has asked me to take on some of his/her tasks recently, and it's causing me to have difficulty in finishing my own work. What would you suggest I do?"

  • +1 absolutely bring it up with your boss - ignoring the issue won't fix it, direct intervention will cause friction, and leaving because of a bad co-worker is bad. If the boss doesn't do anything, then you can leave because you have a bad boss
    – HorusKol
    Sep 19, 2014 at 3:30
  • @HorusKol in my experience, most bosses want you to deal with the situation as colleagues, and find a way to work together. Accusing a co-worker of poor performance can either help resolve the situation, or can mark you as a complainer. Unfortunately you won't know the result until you ask. And it's a bell you can't unring.
    – mcknz
    Sep 19, 2014 at 19:19
  • @mcknz - some situations can be dealt with between colleagues - but I don't think so in this case - there's a mismatch between the OP (as a fresh graduate) and the more senior team members. As for "accusing" the co-worker, there are ways to take a concern about a co-worker to a boss without "accusing" anyone. In fact, Garrison suggest just such a way to bring it up.
    – HorusKol
    Sep 21, 2014 at 22:48

This is something you bring up in private at a semi-annual or annual performance review. Usually managers will have you rate your team members, or leave comments about their work. Feel free to be honest here (but not insulting), and your manager will appreciate the feedback. Be constructive too, so the underperforming employee can learn how to better improve their performance.

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