SOURCE: VitalSmarts

VitalSmarts

March 05, 2013 08:00 ET

Stuck With a Slacking Co-Worker? Why You're to Blame

New Study Finds the Top Five Reasons Employees Keep Their Slacking Co-Workers

PROVO, UT--(Marketwire - Mar 5, 2013) - Slacking co-workers cause a quarter of their hard-working colleagues to put in four to six more hours of work each week, according to new research from the New York Times best-selling authors of Crucial Confrontations.

The online survey of 549 people found that goodwill isn't the only victim in this situation -- productivity, satisfaction and quality also suffer. In fact, four out of five say the quality of their work declines when they have to pick up their co-workers' slack -- a huge potential blow to the bottom line when you consider that 93 percent have a co-worker who doesn't do his or her fair share.

With such a great toll on resources, what do the majority of employees do when faced with slacking co-workers? Unfortunately, not much. The study shows that only 10 percent speak up and hold their underperforming colleagues accountable to their bad behavior.

The top five reasons employees list for biting their tongues:

1. They don't believe what they say will make a difference
2. They don't want to undermine the working relationship
3. It's not their place
4. They fear retaliation
5. They don't know how to approach the conversation

Joseph Grenny, co-author of Crucial Confrontations, says employees often avoid holding others accountable for bad behavior due to fear of the potential risks of speaking up, while failing to consider the risks of not speaking up.

"Those who are best at holding their colleagues accountable realize that if they don't share their concerns with a slacking co-worker, they will have to live with the consequences that result from holding back their informed opinions, such as low productivity, lost revenue and strained relationships," says Grenny.

Grenny says when we fail in our attempts to hold others accountable, it's often because we rely on ineffective strategies such as couching, relying on nonverbal cues, passing the buck or asking others to read our mind.

Grenny offers five tips for candidly and respectfully holding co-workers accountable for bad behavior:

1. Suspend judgments and get curious. Perhaps your co-worker is unaware of the effects of his or her actions. Enter the conversation as a curious friend rather than an angry co‐worker.
2. Make it safe. Don't start by diving into the issue. Establish safety by letting your co-worker know you respect him or her and reminding him or her of the mutual goals you share.
3. Share facts and describe the gap. Start with the facts of the issue and strip out accusatory, judgmental and inflammatory language. Then, describe the gap between what was expected and what was delivered.
4. Tentatively share concerns. Having laid out the facts, tell your co-worker why you're concerned. Help your co-worker see the natural consequences of his or her actions.
5. Invite dialogue. Next, ask if he or she sees the problem differently. If you are open to hearing others' points of view, they'll be more open to yours.

To view an entertaining video about slacking co-workers and access an online game to test your accountability skills, visit www.vitalsmarts.com/unaccountables.

About VitalSmarts: An innovator in corporate training and organizational performance, VitalSmarts is home to multiple training offerings, including the award-winning Crucial Conversations®, Crucial Confrontations®, Influencer®, and Change Anything™ Training. Each course improves key organizational outcomes by focusing on high-leverage skills and behavior-change strategies. The Company also has four New York Times best-selling books: Crucial Conversations, Crucial Confrontations, Influencer, and Change Anything. VitalSmarts has consulted with more than 300 of the Fortune 500 companies, trained more than 800,000 people worldwide and been named by Inc. magazine as one of the fastest-growing companies in America for eight consecutive years. www.vitalsmarts.com

Note to editor: Author Joseph Grenny is available for interviews. Copies of Crucial Confrontations are available upon request.

About the research: The study collected responses via an online survey tool from 549 individuals. Margin of error is approximately 4 percent.

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