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5 Reasons Why Some Employees Are Simply Winging It In The Workplace

5 Reasons Why Some Employees Are Simply Winging It In The Workplace

Ever wonder if a coworker's productivity is genuine or just an act? Some employees excel at appearing busy while doing minimal work. They contribute little in meetings, produce just passable assignments, frequently vanish, talk impressively without follow-through, and still receive rewards.

James Mason profile image
by James Mason

Have you ever wondered if your coworker's productivity is due to their work ethic or if they are bluffing it through their working day?

Do you ever look up from your desk in the office and notice a colleague chatting away for half an hour whilst you are embroiled in a mountain of emails and faced with back-to-back meetings?

Either you are doing something seriously wrong, or they have worked out a way to get through the working day with as little work as possible and still get paid for it. Here are five reasons some employees seem to be simply winging it at work.

1) Meeting Contribution

It's interesting to notice how some colleagues can be very vocal during meetings without contributing anything substantial. They might dominate discussions, using cliche buzzwords and vague statements, giving the impression of being highly involved. However, in reality, they may not be providing any actionable insights or solutions at all.

These employees often excel at making their presence felt without putting in much effort, cleverly redirecting the conversation to others or rephrasing points already made to seem engaged. They rely on the fact that being seen and heard in meetings can sometimes be more valued than the quality of their input.

Why Do Some Coworkers Have Slopey Shoulders And Brush You Off When You Need Their Help?
Some coworkers don’t want to take responsibility. They want to watch the world burn.

2) Assignment Outcome

Some employees can provide just enough to get by when carrying out assignments or tasks. They may turn in work that is barely passable, often filled with superficial content that meets the minimum requirements but lacks depth and innovation.

These individuals tend to focus on quantity over quality, submitting a flurry of mediocre outputs rather than a few well-thought-out pieces. They understand that in many workplaces, ticking off tasks on a checklist can sometimes be mistaken for productivity, allowing them to appear busy without truly providing anything of value.

3) Disappearing Act

The disappearing act is a classic manoeuvre where employees find ways to be physically or virtually absent without drawing much attention. They might schedule long lunch breaks, extend their coffee runs, or frequently "work from home" with minimal supervision. In a remote work environment, these individuals might log in to appear active but then vanish for hours, leaving their colleagues to pick up the slack. They count on the busyness of others and the assumption that they are working diligently in the background, all while contributing minimally to the team's efforts.

4) Talking a good talk

Some employees are good at talking. They can confidently explain plans, strategies, and goals, but they don't intend to follow through or have the capability to do so. These people are often charming and persuasive, and they use their communication skills to create the impression that they are competent and ambitious.

They may have the ability to impress managers and colleagues with their confident speeches, but when it comes to getting things done, they often rely on others to bring their ideas to life.

5) Receiving Reward

Despite their minimal contributions, these employees often manage to receive rewards and recognition. They might be skilled at self-promotion, ensuring their small successes are highly visible while downplaying or deflecting any shortcomings. They know how to align themselves with high-performing teams or projects, taking partial credit for group achievements.

These individuals understand the power of perception and use it to their advantage, securing raises, promotions, and accolades that may not truly reflect their level of effort or impact.


These individuals have perfected the art of looking productive without putting in the effort, displaying a deceptive mastery that might even seem impressive at first glance. However, this charade is unlikely to last forever. Eventually, their lack of genuine contribution will be exposed, and they may find themselves jobless. While some have managed to wing it for years, this approach is unsustainable for anyone who truly values their career.

Genuine job satisfaction and recognition come from setting goals, achieving them, and being rewarded for real accomplishments. By recognizing these behaviours, you can produce your work environment more effectively, ensuring that true productivity and merit are acknowledged and respected.

How to spot the slackers who are ‘winging it’ at work
Winging it is a lot less work but few people can genuinely pull it off. There is no excuse for an experienced professional who fails to cover the basics.
A View on Winging It | The Art Of

James Mason profile image
by James Mason

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