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Should My Co-Worker Be Fired? 5 Steps to Take.

If you work with a slacker, you can take action. Find out what to do.

They miss deadlines. They nod off in meetings. They contribute nothing to team projects. They are the co-workers who make you wonder: Why haven’t they been fired?


Ultimately, hiring and firing are decisions made by supervisors and the HR department. But if your co-worker’s behavior is negatively impacting you and your organization, there are five steps you can take.

  1. If the situation is urgent, take action immediately. If your co-worker is doing something illegal or threatening your safety, speak to your supervisor or an HR manager right away.
  2. If your co-worker’s behavior is disruptive rather than dangerous, consider speaking to them directly. For instance, if they consistently miss deadlines, try talking to them one-on-one to explain how their behavior impacts you, your department, and/or the organization. Most importantly, ask them to help you come up with a solution to the issue. That way, your co-worker will be pushed to take responsibility for changing their behavior. They may share that something external is affecting their ability to meet deadlines, which would help you understand the situation and might help you find a resolution, together.
  3. It’s time to talk to your supervisor if you’ve spoken to your co-worker and their behavior still hasn’t changed, or if you don’t feel comfortable confronting your co-worker.

    Schedule a meeting with your boss so you can have a private discussion. During the meeting, avoid complaining about the employee. Stick to the facts and explain your co-worker’s pattern of behavior. Share any action you’ve taken to address the problem, and the results. Then ask your boss to help you find a resolution. Be prepared with a response in case your supervisor asks you what you think should be done—perhaps you can ask your boss to address the issue with your co-worker’s boss or you can suggest that your co-worker receive more training.

  4. Understand that it often takes time for workplace issues to be addressed. But if months go by and nothing seems to have changed, you can check in with your supervisor to let them know that the problem with your co-worker hasn’t been resolved. Keep in mind that your boss may not be able to tell you what has transpired with your co-worker, but they should be made aware that the issue is ongoing.
  5. Your co-worker’s behavior may never change, unfortunately. In that case, focus on doing the best work you can do. Don’t cover for an underperforming co-worker—ultimately, that could hurt you by increasing your workload and protecting someone whose performance is subpar. Define roles and responsibilities so that it’s clear who’s doing (or not doing) what. Look for opportunities to work on new projects (without the problematic co-worker) and let your skills shine. Your good work will speak for itself … and your co-worker’s poor performance will speak volumes as well.

Setting workplace policies for hiring and terminating employees is one of the many roles of human resource professionals. If you would like a career in human resources, consider earning a master’s in human resources management. HR managers are responsible for an organization’s most valuable asset: people. Human resource professionals recruit, train, and retain quality employees to help organizations succeed.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering an online MS in Human Resource Management degree program. The program is ideal for both experienced HR professionals and those who are newer to the field because it has two tracks. If you are not a certified human resource professional, Track I can prepare you for certification while providing the knowledge and skills you need in your new career. If you already are a certified human resource professional, Track II enables you to tailor your courses to fit your career path.

Walden’s MS in Human Resource Management can help meet the needs of any current or aspiring HR professional. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.

Walden University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission,