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Slacker culture holding you back?

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in Leaders & Managers,Management Training,Your Office Coach

Question:  “I am a young, ambitious employee in a large agency where many people spend their time doing anything but work. They play computer games, surf the web, take smoke breaks, read the paper, discuss TV shows, gossip about celebrities, manage their finances, and plan vacations. When these lazy co-workers try to give me their assigned tasks, I always reply courteously by saying, “Just OK it with the manager, then I’ll be glad to help you.”  So far, our boss hasn’t given me any of their work. Because my goal is to get into management, I can’t decide whether to officially report this widespread abuse of time. Doing so could either demonstrate my initiative and dedication or mark me as a whistle-blower and kill my chances for advancement.” — Hard Worker

Marie’s Answer: Your response to inappropriate requests is politically brilliant, but confronting chronic idleness is a much greater challenge. Here are my thoughts on the situation:

•    Your slothful colleagues obviously have a sorry work ethic, but management must share the blame for this unproductive environment. Your boss is either apathetic or incredibly timid, and the higher-ups have done nothing to address the problem.  

•    If you can identify an influential manager who seems receptive, then you could consider raising the issue. However, it may be time to stop worrying about the agency and start worrying about yourself, because this poorly run organization is a complete mismatch for your personality.  

•    Since you will never single-handedly change this slacker culture, consider finding a workplace where your drive and motivation will be fully appreciated. Otherwise, you may gradually evolve from a frustrated young employee into a frustrated aging manager.  

For suggestions on dealing with problem colleagues, see The Best Way to Complain About Coworkers.

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