How to Deal With Incompetent Coworkers

Incompetence can cause workplace conflict and, in many cases, supervisors and managers expect employees to resolve conflict among themselves before it escalates to a level that requires attention from a department leader. If you're burdened by a coworker's incompetency, try to resolve the matter yourself before you alert your supervisor. There are a number of ways to do this, including a frank discussion with your coworker to impress upon him the importance of satisfactory performance. The one thing you cannot afford to do is simply ignore incompetent performance, especially when it affects your own job performance.

Document Concerns

Note the areas where your coworkers' incompetence is most obvious. If your coworkers' incompetency cause workplace safety issues, report it immediately to your supervisor or manager. Observe whether the struggling coworker is having problems with the use of technology, understanding work processes or are simply not paying attention.

You needn't keep a log of incompetent coworkers' activities and inefficiencies; however, when the time comes for you to discuss your concerns, you should have a few documented examples that illustrate your point. For example, note the date and time that a customer called to report the shoddy carpentry work performed by the coworker. Bring the matter to the supervisor's attention so the problem can be rectified.

Offer Support

Refrain from talking to your coworkers about their performance from a critical authoritative perspective unless you have a leadership role. They may rebuff your offer, causing a sincere gesture of concern to be perceived as controlling. RMS Recruitment suggests that incompetent coworkers are more likely to be receptive to assistance from peers if approached with kindness and an offer of support.

Ask if there's anything you can do to help them understand their job tasks or to improve their overall performance. This could be especially helpful you're a long-term employee and your coworker is relatively new. With your coaching and mentoring, the incompetent coworker may improve significantly if the desire to learn is there.

Inform the Supervisor

Meet with your supervisor and describe how the incompetent coworker is causing more work for other team members who must correct that person's mistakes and pick up the slack. Summarize incidents where your coworkers' incompetence affects your job performance. For example, your supervisor may evaluate a team project as unsatisfactory because he's looking at the project in its totality and not by individual contributions. Note project areas where your contributions should have been recognized or rated higher. And, point out where it appears that your coworkers' incompetence is sabotaging your team's results.

Suggest Change of Duties

Review your job description to ensure you're doing everything possible to fulfill the company's expectations for your position. If there are areas where your supervisor can shift more complex duties to your plate, talk with her about changing work assignments. You may wish to suggest additional training for the coworker or for the entire department to reinforce expectations and standards.

It's possible the coworker is incompetent because his skill set doesn't qualify him to do the work assigned to him, as in a mismatch of his duties and skills. This would require your supervisor to take inventory of your skills to determine where you and the coworker are most valuable to the company. The coworker may shine in a job that's a better fit.

Offer to Take the Lead

Go directly to the supervisor with concerns about an imcompetent coworker instead of sharing your concerns with others in th organization who aren't involved or affected by it. Talking about other employees' performance is unkind and unwarranted. Ask your supervisor to designate you as team leader or department expert. Explain why you believe this will help to improve the overall performance of department employees.

In your new role, you can provide guidance and assistance to coworkers who are underperforming. Forge suggests looking for what motivates the incompetent coworker and reinforce desired behavior. Recognize and praise steps toward improvement.