How To Politely Ask Someone To Do Their Job


Everyone needs to pull their weight at a job. Each person has assigned tasks and the flow of them is interdependent.

You don’t want to create conflict, but you don’t want to pick up the slack either. What you allow is what will continue.

Some individuals will only do the bare minimum while others give 100% every day!

Learning how to politely ask someone to do their job is possible.

Describe how the unfinished work is affecting you in a confidential conversation and ask openly about the reasons for the persistent delays. First, try to motivate the person and offer support if possible. If this does not help, involve your supervisor.

Do it in Private

Never call out someone during a meeting or when there are other people around. Give them a chance to do a better job.

Ask them if they need help or if they don’t understand what they should be doing.

A lack of understanding or a lack of training could be holding them back.

With some help, they can get it all organized and done.

What to Say:

“Can we talk in your office for a minute? We depend on you to perform certain tasks but they aren’t getting done. Do you need some extra help or more training so you can get it all done?”

“I notice you are behind on certain deadlines and I wanted to ask if something is going on preventing you from getting the work completed timely?”

“This is a fast-paced job but some of your work is falling through the cracks. Are there any underlying concerns you have about the work?”

Ask Questions

When someone isn’t getting their work done, don’t assume they are lazy.

Try to get the facts.

Give them a chance to share the situation by asking questions.

What to Say:

“I notice your work isn’t getting done, is something going on you would like to share?”

“Are you struggling to get certain work tasks done? Is there something you don’t understand?”

“Are you feeling overwhelmed by your workload? If so, what is it specifically that you have concerns about?”

Wasted Time

Chronic time wasters are annoying at any job. They may show up on time, but they don’t get much done.

They aren’t organized and they don’t seem to care about deadlines.

They want a paycheck and that is about all. Don’t let them continue to do so!

What to Say:

“We all enjoy having fun here from time to time, but your behavior isn’t acceptable. We have work to get done and you aren’t completing as much as you could each day. It is time to get focused and get the work done each day.”

“Prioritizing your work is important, and I think getting organized will help you do more in less time. You seem to spend lots of time looking for information so let’s find a solution so you have it all at your fingertips to be productive.”

“Other employees here are continually doing your work, and it isn’t acceptable. You have the skills and the ability to do more than you. Hopefully, this will open your eyes and you will embrace your potential. We all depend on each other here.”

Team Work

When someone isn’t doing their work at the job, they tend to overlook how their role intertwines with others.

Remind them that teamwork is essential, even when a person is assigned individual tasks.

What to Say:

“We all help each other out, but everyone has plenty of work to do. It isn’t fair that your share of the work isn’t getting done regularly. We need you to make some changes so you aren’t holding everyone back.”

“When you were hired, you shared you could handle the level of work given to you. We don’t feel you are doing that and it is something that needs to be changed. We can’t continue with the way things are, what do you suggest?”

“The work you are assigned is part of a bigger picture here. Everyone has their part to do, and other team members can’t do their work when you don’t. They either get behind due to it or they have to try to do your work on top of their own. We are all team here and we all have to do our part to make it work.”

Offer some Tips

Be proactive with your approach, offering them some tips.

They may not know what needs to be changed but they are willing to try something new.

What to Say:

“I notice you are struggling to get your work done, how can I help you? I can give you some tips to help you get it all done without stress or it being late.”

“You seem to be pushing deadlines often. How can you delegate your priorities and make more time? Being organized and not wasting time can help you get work tasks done in less time.”

“Are you aware much of your work isn’t getting done, it is poorly done, or it is late? I can offer you some help with getting things into a better pattern. I can show you what works for me.”

“Can you share what your daily routine is so I can try to help you identify problem areas?”

Give Encouragement

When your goal is to ask someone to do their job, try to give encouragement.

Focus on their strengths rather than on what isn’t getting done.

Help them turn weaker areas into places where they can excel.

What to Say:

“I know you are trying, but your work is behind. I want to encourage you to get it done and to focus. You may need to stay late or come in early until you get faster at the work.”

“I know you have the ability to do your work, but the bottom line is it isn’t getting completed. You are better than that, and I encourage you to push yourself to get it all done correctly and on time moving forward.”

“If you have questions about work tasks, we can help out. When your work is complete, it is outstanding. The concern though is not enough is getting done. We have to figure out why and change it around so the work is all done that is assigned to you. We have to be able to depend on you.”

Plan to Catch Up

When someone is too far behind, they may stress about it. Others just give up and do what they feel like and the rest doesn’t get done.

If they know others will finish what they don’t, there isn’t any incentive for them to catch up. There is no reason for them to put forth more time or effort.

Call them out on it and help them develop a plan to catch up.

What to Say:

“When you get caught up, the job will be less stressful. Right now, we have to focus on getting caught up. Let’s create a plan; can you work an extra hour each night and part of the day Saturday? That should be plenty of uninterrupted extra time to get it all squared away.”

“I will extend an offer to help you get caught up, but you have to put in the time and effort too. I won’t do it for you, but I don’t mind offering my help this one time to get you all caught up.”

“We have talked before about your work getting done. You have to stay on top of it, even if you have to work late or on the weekend. I need a plan from you to catch up and then we need you to stay on top of work and deadlines.”

Report it

If you have politely asked someone to do their job but they don’t have the skills or they continue to slack off, report it.

Allow someone above you to take care of it.

If you are the supervisor, write them up and talk to them about disciplinary action. Create a plan for them to do better and if they don’t they will be fired.

If you aren’t in charge, report it to your direct supervisor. Share with them why you feel the other person isn’t doing all they should and how it affects your job.

Share with them how it affects the business as a whole. Allow them time to handle it and get things back on track.

What to Say:

“Mark isn’t doing the weekly reports and that means my work is late. Others see him goofing off all day and it doesn’t go over well. We are all working hard and he doesn’t take this work seriously. Can you talk to him and help resolve the problem?”

“I have concerns Karen may need more training as she isn’t doing all the required tasks of her job. We need her to step up and do them so we can all stay on top of our tasks too.”

“We have some reports of you not following through on the work in your job description. Since we have talked about that before, we are going to put you on corrective action with a plan in motion. We would like you to help us create it to resolve the issue.”

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