How To Deal With Incompetent Coworkers?

One of the criteria for employment in a well-meaning organization is proof of competency. You’ve probably attended interviews where the interviewers asked about your core competence. Unless you prove to the employers that you’re competent to deliver on the job, you’re not likely to get the job. Let us know “How To Deal With Incompetent Coworkers?”

How To Deal With Incompetent Coworkers?

However, it’s not impossible that organizations have had to hire employees who are not competent to handle a particular job. When you’re peering with such individuals, unless you’ve mastered the skills necessary to handle people like this, you may run into a collision with them. 

There are several ways you can deal with incompetent coworkers, which include having a straight-talk discussion with them to show your displeasure with how the work is being handled. Also, you can consider how to be of help in explaining what needs to be done and how it should be done. Moreover, if and when necessary, there may be a need to inform the superior personnel as to what is happening within your team.

Don’t Ignore Incompetent Coworkers

The worst temptation you can face in handling incompetent coworkers is to ignore them. Never fall victim to such a temptation, especially, if the measure of your performance depends on theirs.

Yet, you must not mismanage the situation because it can lead to sore relationships between you and your coworkers. It can cripple the communication lines between you and them, thereby affecting the overall performance of the organization.

Therefore, you need to address the situation before it gets out of proportion. If this situation is mismanaged, you may all have to answer queries from the department’s head or the supervisor.

The discussions below will help you handle the lingering issues of incompetency between you and your coworkers.

Take A Careful Observation:

Have you noticed one or more of the coworkers displaying some level of incompetencies? For how long has this been? What factor could be responsible?

You have to carefully observe the situation and document your concerns. Are they having a problem with assimilating the process? Is the technology incomprehensible to them? Or, are they simply omitting significant details by not paying attention to what they’re doing?

Maturity will help you sheave out the truth as you try to answer the questions above yourself. If it’s a matter of simply not paying attention, you have to quickly draw their attention to what they’re leaving out of their work. 

Avoid being sarcastic in addressing situations like this. It’s good that you first put yourself in their shoes and feel what they’re feeling. Could they be going through some emotional trauma that is adversely impacting their work? 

If it is a matter that is concerned with their ability to assimilate the process or comprehend the technological know-how, can you offer to put them through or recommend them for retraining?

When necessary, you can suggest to the authorities the need to repost such individuals to another department that matches their competence. 

Focus On The Overall Goal:

Why do you have to go through all the rigor we discussed above? It’s because of what your organization is trying to achieve. 

When trying to deal with incompetent coworkers, you have to be careful so that you do not take things personally between you. You have to let your motive be clear to all that your purpose is to help achieve the overall objectives of the organization; there are no personal issues between you and your coworkers.

Sometimes, people will question your motives and end the game. You have to insist that you’ve got genuine concern for the company, that there is no personal ambition behind your action, and that you’re not attempting to build your ego. 

This is why communication comes in. When dealing with incompetent coworkers, you have to be clear in your expressions. You have to speak in a language that everyone in the organization can understand. Without clear communication, no matter your intention, your action may be termed a witch-hunt. Therefore, when dealing with a situation like this, you have to communicate in a language that everyone can understand.

Don’t Be Confrontational:

Now, you have to be very careful that you do not allow the temptation to go confrontational in dealing with incompetent coworkers. What for? Even if you were the owner of the organization, you’ll have no right to inflict assault or battery on the person.

When an incompetent coworker misunderstands or misinterprets your intention, remain calm and maintain your composure to avoid the possibility of ever fighting with a coworker.

Be Patient And Wait For The Outcome:

No matter the route you have taken – whether you undertake to help train the incompetent coworkers or recommend them for reshuffling, you will have to be patient for the outcome.

If you undertake to train coworkers in the areas where they’re lagging, it may take some time before they reach the level of competency you’re looking for in them. It may not happen overnight. As a result, keep your eyes on them and you will see that improvement taking shape as time passes by.

If you recommend them for reposting to another department, there is absolutely nothing you can do until management decides to act on your recommendations. For the time being, continue to work with them until the solution finally comes. 


The greatest asset of every organization is the people working within its system. Incompetent employees can cause irreparable damage to the organization’s reputation and bottom line. 

Working with incompetent coworkers can hinder your performance. Sometimes, the line of operation is such that the quality of your performance depends on the quality of your performance. 

When working with incompetent coworkers becomes unavoidable, you have to master the necessary skills required to deal with the situation.

Some of the things you need to do are already discussed in this article. One of them is to take careful observations of the situation. Another is to focus your attention on the overall goal of the organization instead of the problem itself. Also, avoid the temptation of going confrontational in addressing situations like this. And finally, exercise patience.

Frequently Asked Questions
  1. How do I approach an incompetent coworker?

Sometimes, it may sound absurd to approach an incompetent coworker to discuss his incompetency. What if he is a senior colleague?

Approaching a situation like this requires carefulness. But it’s not something you want to keep mute over. When approaching an incompetent coworker, be courteous. Don’t sound like you’re exercising a superiority complex. Approach incompetent coworkers in a way that shows that you’re concerned and willing to offer help. If this is what you do, they should understand with you.  

  1. How do I if incompetent coworkers feel embarrassed by my expressions?

When your coworkers feel that you embarrassed them by your expressions in calling their attention to what is lacking in their work, be willing to apologize and explain again in a way they will understand. If they still do not understand you, then, get your head of department or supervisor informed.

  1. Do I need to inform the third party before I confront the incompetent coworkers myself?

Sometimes that may be the best option especially if you think the person in question will find it difficult to understand your language. If the incompetent coworker is not directly under you, you may have to inform the head of his department so that his work would have been properly vetted before it gets to your table.

How To Deal With Incompetent Coworkers?

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