askST Jobs: I have a co-worker who is not interested in his work. How should I motivate him?

Have a conversation with your co-worker first, and highlight areas he can do better in. Bring it up to the manager or HR only if all else fails. PHOTO: ST FILE

In this series, manpower correspondent Calvin Yang offers practical answers to candid questions on navigating workplace challenges and getting ahead in your career.

Q: I have a co-worker who is not interested in his work. How can I handle him?

A: There is no easy way around such issues, but always keep your emotions in check.

"Colleagues who are not interested in their work tend to be behind deadlines all the time, and often deliver scrappy work that needs to be redone," says Mr David Blasco, general manager at recruitment firm Randstad Singapore. "But don't let yourself fall into the trap where their work becomes your responsibility."

It might not be a good idea to go to your supervisor immediately.

"If you speak too early, it may come across as you're gossiping or complaining about a colleague, which may give a negative impression of your ability to manage the situation," explains Mr Blasco.

Instead, have a conversation with your co-worker first. He could be struggling to keep up with his workload, or have personal problems that are distracting him from work.

During the discussion, let him know the areas he can do better in. It would also help if you write down your points before that, so that you can stick to the facts during the conversation rather than let emotions take over.

"If all else fails, then that's when you can reach out to your manager or HR (human resources) with a plan," says Mr Blasco, noting that there is a fine line between complaining about your colleague and genuinely finding a fair resolution.

"This is when the evidence that you've collected from your exchanges with your colleague may be helpful as it would help your managers understand the situation," he adds.

When speaking to your manager and HR, wait for them to finish their sentences before you reply.

"Make sure that your sincerity in getting professional advice is also reflected in your body language," says Mr Blasco.

"Keep an open mind and remember to stay professional throughout the process."

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