How To Tell Your Boss Your Coworker Is Incompetent – 10 Steps

Written By Aleena

Having a lazy and unqualified coworker is painful enough. So here’s a complete guide on how to tell your boss your coworker is incompetent.

An incompetent person doesn’t have the necessary skills to perform their work. And such a person makes everyone else’s work difficult too.

How To Tell Your Boss Your Coworker Is Incompetent – 10 Steps

What would you do if you had an incompetent coworker who had a bad attitude and refused to get better? It’s a dilemma.

With a reasonable attempt at managing the situation, you can learn how to handle such a coworker. Such coworkers struggle with their job and do not pull their weight.

They are rude to others and do not seem interested in getting better at what they do.

Here is a complete guide on how to manage such coworkers by talking to your boss:

1. How To Tell Your Boss Your Coworker Is Incompetent – Find The Right Time:

Find a time to talk with your boss when you both are free. Since you will talk about an incompetent coworker, your boss should be calm to listen to it.

stupidity and incompetence

Otherwise, you will not be able to convey the whole situation and explain things in a good way.

Consequently, your boss will think you are just complaining about a coworker. The meeting can go wrong if your boss cannot understand the whole situation.

Schedule a meeting with your boss to discuss what you found out about your coworker.

2. Make Sure You Have Documentation:

Having solid proof of your coworker’s incompetence will be a great help. Moreover, it will confirm your statement and point.

You should gather evidence of how your coworker behaves and how it affects the company.

The evidence to support your claim can be like this:

– Your colleague’s text messages

– Testimony of other coworkers 

– Their progress on the project they couldn’t complete due to their incompetence.

– Your colleague’s emails

– Meeting notes

3. Don’t Be The First Person To Point Out Your Coworker’s Incompetence:

The point is crucial because calling your coworker incompetent can backlash. You have to play safe. Therefore, you shouldn’t be the first person to point out the incompetent coworker.

Before you tell your boss your coworker is competent, make sure you are not the only one who noticed it.

There will be many other colleagues who noticed the same behavior as that coworker. Talk to them, and ask them to assist you in meeting the boss.

when coworkers are incompetent

Some will step back, of course, but they will ensure that they are witnesses. You will have a solid statement that everyone noticed that coworker’s incompetence.

4. How To Tell Your Boss Your Coworker Is Incompetent – Write Down Everything About The Coworker:

Before you go to the boss, find out everything you need to know about that coworker. To not miss any point to explain when talking to the boss, write everything down.

The key points should be what the coworker does and how they impact you and the company.

Moreover, it can be specific examples when your coworker messed up badly.

5. Explain The Situation In A Calm And Rational Manner:

Be calm and rational when you explain to your boss that your coworker is incompetent. Make sure you do not seem angry or raise your voice.

Moreover, do not use a complaining tone, making your boss think you have a personal agenda. You should make it seem like you worry about the company and its people.

Therefore, it is crucial to point out those who are not contributing to its progress. A rational way can save your statement. Otherwise, it can backlash.

6. Don’t Make It An Us Vs. Them Situation:

Your incompetent coworker might not be the only one who hurts the company. Therefore, do not make it us vs. them situation.

Please do not push your problem to them by putting the entire blame on them. However, make it clear that the incompetent worker is not a good example for others.

You don’t want to make it look like a war situation.

Do not say your coworker is incompetent and you are more competent. It can lead to backlash from your boss and other coworkers.

7. Criticize The Actions Not The Person:

Communicate to your boss that the coworker’s work is not up to par, but they are good people.

how to tell your boss you coworker is incompetent

You should not attack that person, but state their actions are not up to the mark. Be respectful yet firm in telling your boss what you found out about the coworker.

8. How To Tell Your Boss Your Coworker Is Incompetent – Keep The Meeting Short:

Keep the meeting under 15 minutes. Your boss should understand your concerns address them ASAP. Also, keeping the meeting short and to the point is crucial.

In this way, you won’t have time to exaggerate the situation and negatively criticize. Be professional but firm in telling your boss why he should replace the coworker.

Start with: “I have been meaning to tell you something.”

Moreover, say: “It is not easy for me to say this, but it would be beneficial if we let [coworker’s name] go.” Then explain the situation shortly.

End with: “I hope that you won’t take offense, but I don’t think she will work well with us.”

9. How To Tell Your Boss Your Coworker Is Incompetent – Offer Solutions:

Offer solutions on how to get rid of that coworker if possible. They can be:

– Transfer them to another branch

Training and development program for them

– Counselling with HR

– Their meeting with the boss to ensure they know the KPIs 

You can offer anything that they can do differently to get rid of the problem in the future.

10. Wait For Their Response:

Wait for their response and leave after they respond. Or you can ask your boss to take his time and investigate.


Moreover, he can talk to the incompetent worker to analyze the issue. In this way, the boss can be sure of your claims and decide.

Do not rush your boss to make a quick decision. It will make you seem impatient. Make sure your boss knows that you understand why they need to let them go.

Moreover, you take responsibility that you couldn’t handle the incompetent coworker. Make your boss understand that you need his help to handle the situation.

6 Signs Of Incompetent Coworker

Incompetent coworkers are some of the worst people to have at work. They put in no effort, take credit for your work, and often cause more problems than they solve. 

Here we will look at signs to help you spot an incompetent coworker before doing too much damage.

1. They Never Do Any Work:

Incompetent coworkers spend most of their time on social media and slacking. They rarely get any actual work done, despite having all day to do it with no interruptions.

You see this person put their feet up on the table while working. You see, this person spends more time talking with colleagues than getting work done.

2. They Do Not Listen To Others:

Incompetent coworkers do not respect and value others. They do not listen to the concerns of others on the project and think what they say is essential only.

incompetent coworker

They don’t even pay heed to their seniors and bosses. And therefore they lack progressive skills.

3. They Don’t Take Initiative:

They often do not even consider taking the Initiative on their projects. Remember that Initiative is a massive part of any job, no matter how small.

But they are tool operators who do nothing for the increased progress of the company.

4. They Don’t Follow Through: 

It’s essential to notice that they ask you to do the same thing because they can’t figure it out. You’ve already explained it in detail, and the coworker does not take notes.

When you get a task from a coworker and have to follow up on their progress, you notice them being skeptical about it.

5. They Affect Others’ Work Negatively:

Incompetent coworkers can be a tremendous drain on your productivity. These people don’t know how to work well with others or who don’t know how to perform their job.

Unfortunately, incompetent coworkers can ruin morale for an entire team. Moreover, their laziness and negativity affect others and hampers their productivity.

6. They Make Frequent Mistakes: 

Such coworkers make frequent mistakes and under perform. They do not perform well and generously despite telling them how to perform. Moreover, they do not take account of their wrong work.

They try to put their mistakes on others and try to come out clean. However, such people can not hide their wrongdoings for long.


We’ve all had a lousy coworker or two in our lives. Terrible coworkers make the office a living hell, and you can’t wait for them to leave or get fired.

Incompetent coworkers are some of the worst people to have at work. They put in no effort, take credit for your work, and often cause more problems than they solve.

To talk to your boss:

– Please make sure you are honest with him.

– Make documentation about your coworker and discuss everything with your boss.

– Do not exaggerate or attack the incompetent coworker personally.

– In conclusion, offer solutions to get rid of the situation.

Last Updated on 2 months by Shahzaib Arshad


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