Pause for a few seconds before jumping into an answer.
Dodge and deflect, when necessary. It’s a useful tactic when someone probes you for sensitive information.
Example: “Unfortunately, I can’t share that information. What I can tell you is that Mr. Smith always makes himself available to employees, if you’d like to ask him that question yourself.”
Don’t sling mud. No need to dwell on your slacking co-worker. Point to how you’re improving the workflow, so the team won’t be tardy the next time.