We’ve all had to work with those colleagues who never pull their own weight. Instead, they seem to skate by with the bare minimum—all the while relying on their team members to carry them over the finish line. While the rest of your team is working away, this person seems content to just coast.
Those sorts of co-workers are undeniably frustrating (and here are some tips for dealing with them). But, have you ever stopped to think that you might be one of them?
Gasp! It can’t be! Or—can it? Here are five easy-to-miss signs that you’re that lazy, exasperating, noncontributing person.
1. You’re Never Asked for Help
No matter how much you rack your brain, you can’t remember the last time one of your colleagues approached you to ask for your assistance with a project, problem, or a task.
“They’ve just got it all under control,” you tell yourself. However (cue the horror movie soundtrack), that might not be the case.
Instead, your co-workers might not feel comfortable leaning on you in times of need, as they don’t feel confident that they can trust you to actually get the job done. You haven’t proven to be dependable and on top of things in the past. So, when they find themselves in need of a helping hand, they’ll go elsewhere.
2. You’re Always Asked for Help
The converse of the above point can also be true. If you feel like you’re constantly being asked to pitch in, this could be an indicator that you’re not contributing enough on your own.
Asking you to lend a hand could be your team members’ subtle way of telling you that you need to chip in and take some initiative. Or, they could be approaching you for help simply because you obviously have plenty of spare time.
Either way, the point remains the same: If you’re always being prompted to help out, you might need to step your game up—without being asked.
3. You’re on the Receiving End of Passive-Aggressive Comments
As you make your way out of the office at 4 PM, you pass by a colleague and offer him a friendly smile. He waves, says he’ll see you tomorrow, and then tacks on a comment like, “It must be nice to leave early every day.”
Is this passive-aggressive? You bet. But, if your peers don’t feel comfortable approaching you about your supposed lack of effort, these sorts of comments might be some of your best clues into how you’re being perceived.
Constantly hearing things from your co-workers about how they wish their to-do lists were as short or their inboxes were as empty as yours might make you think they’re just trying to be condescending or snarky. But, these muttered statements can actually be symptomatic of something deeper going on.
4. You’re Being Micromanaged
For quite some time, you were in control over your own workload. But, lately you’ve noticed that your boss seems to be stepping in more and more. In fact, she’s quickly edging her way into micromanagement territory.
Before you blame your snoopy manager, consider this: Your colleagues could’ve complained about the fact that you were slowing things down or failing to contribute your fair share. Or—since your boss is probably far smarter and more aware than you’d like to think—she may have noticed your decreased motivation herself.
While micromanagement can also be a sign of a bad boss, it’s worth considering whether or not you did something to warrant that level of observation.
5. You Find Out About Projects Way Later
You’re in a team meeting when someone mentions the branding revamp that was wrapped up a few weeks ago. You miraculously keep your jaw from hitting the floor—you had no idea anything like that was even going on.
In fact, when you think back on it, you often find out about projects weeks or months after they’ve been completed—and, you were certainly never asked to assist with them.
Think about it this way: If you’ve developed a reputation as someone who is a bit of a loafer, your team members won’t be in a huge hurry to work with you. As a result, you’ll likely be totally left out of the loop on a frequent basis.
You know how frustrating a noncontributing co-worker can be. So, needless to say, you don’t want to be one yourself.
It can be tough to be self-aware in the office. But, if you have suspicions that your colleagues might be growing frustrated with you, keep your eyes peeled for these signs.
What do you do if you discover that you’re not chipping in enough to be considered a great team member? The solution is simple: Step your game up. And, take things one step further by approaching your co-workers and asking if there’s anything you can help with.
You won’t be able to change your reputation overnight. But, being proactive and taking that initiative will show that you’re serious about turning a new leaf and pulling your own weight.
Photo of person being lazy courtesy of PhotoAlto/Getty Images.
Kat is a Midwest-based freelance writer, covering topics related to careers, productivity, and the freelance life. In addition to The Muse, she's a contributor all over the web and dishes out research-backed advice for places like Atlassian, Trello, Toggl, Wrike, The Everygirl, FlexJobs, and more. She's also an Employment Advisor at a local college, and loves helping students prepare to thrive in careers (and lives!) they love. When she manages to escape from behind her computer screen, she's usually babying her two rescue mutts or continuing her search for the perfect taco. Say hi on Twitter @kat_boogaard or check out her website.More from this Author