When a coworker starts slacking, you might want to blame negligence or incompetence.
But don't make any snap judgments, says leadership coach and former U.S. Navy SEAL Jocko Willink. After all, people not pulling their weight might be overwhelmed or might have something going on outside of the office.
"Instead of assuming that they're lazy and they're a bum, you assume that they've got something going on in their life that is interfering with their work," Willink tells CNBC Make It.
Approach that person and say, "Hey, is everything OK? Do you need some help? Can I take some of that weight off your shoulders?"
After all, "you don't know where you're going to end up in two months, in six months," he says, adding: "Maybe you're the one that's going to need someone to cover for you."
If you continue covering and this person takes advantage of you and your help, that's when you'll know: your coworker has either checked out of the job or is simply lazy.
Still, don't complain about the extra work on your plate, says the former SEAL. Turn it into an opportunity to get ahead.
He suggests thinking, "Bring it. I'm going to do your work for you. ... I'm going to start taking responsibilities from you and, eventually, guess what? You're not going to have any responsibilities at all."
Your mindset should be: "I'm going to continue to take work from them until I've taken their job and I'm going to move forward," says Willink.
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