How to Work With Unskilled Co-Workers in the Workplace

It may take some time, but many unskilled workers will become proficient in their job.
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It can be annoying to see a new worker come on the job and be visibly ignorant to the unwritten -- or written -- rules of the job. When you have a co-worker like this, it may be helpful to remember the maxim that Toyota used in regards to unskilled workers: "There is no such thing as unskilled labor: there is only work to which intelligence has yet to be applied."

Step 1

Practice a bit of patience. If your employer hired someone unskilled for a position, chances are the employer believes the worker will be able to acquire the skills they need to eventually do the job well. Since you're not a manager or supervisor of this person, it's your job to try to work cohesively with your co-workers, and not micro-manage them. Take a deep breath and remember that once, you were likely the "newbie" who didn't know much about the job.

Step 2

Offer to spend a bit of extra time with your unskilled co-worker to show her the ropes. Make a list of important duties or crucial skills involved in the position, and then go over the list with her over lunch or at an after-work happy hour. By showing some understanding and being helpful, your unskilled co-worker may feel more welcome and gain confidence in building skills.

Step 3

Research training opportunities your co-worker can take advantage of, and turn her on to any paid trainings or sponsored opportunities pertaining to your line of work. Sometimes, businesses offer a tuition matching program or training sessions during various times of the year -- something a new employee may not be aware of. There may also be opportunities at your local community college or technical training center, which may offer your co-worker a chance to increase her skills.

Step 4

Talk to your supervisors if you see ongoing problems related to health, safety or productivity. While you should give your unskilled co-workers some time to learn how to complete her assignments, there will be a point when she should have acquired the basic skills needed for the job. After a few weeks or months -- depending on the company and the job -- ask for a few minutes of your boss' time to share your concerns. During the meeting, describe behaviors and resist placing labels on the person; describe a certain act that your co-worker has done, instead of saying "she's lazy." Then allow your boss to deal with the matter from there.

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