handling slackers in the workplace

Behold the power of a slacker—able to stretch a 15-minute break into a half hour siesta. Seemingly incapable of completing a task in a timely fashion, yet capable of posting on their favorite social media sites on the hour like clockwork. Full of ideas and opinions for others, yet never actually following through with one of their own. Worse than that, their slackerness seems to be contagious, spreading across the office like the flu as they go from person to person, bringing down the productivity of those they come into contact with. Does this sound familiar?

These slackers, whether oblivious to their behavior or seasoned covert slackers intent on avoiding work, are a challenging prospect for co-workers and management alike. So what is the best way to deal with employees that are productivity-challenged? Here are some tips to help you manage these types of employees:

1. Let the person know in a professional, non confrontational way what the problem is and why it is not acceptable. They may be aware of their lack of productivity, but oftentimes they are not. This may be enough to motivate them to focus more intently on their tasks. Take the time to hear the person out and try to understand the underlying cause of their inability to get things done. It could be that they are over their head in their current position or that there are some external circumstances to be aware of.

2. Make sure tasks are clear-cut and have a set due date. Outline the consequence of not completing the task by the deadline and stick to it! Sometimes employees don’t get things done because they don’t understand the task or are overwhelmed but too embarrassed or proud to ask for help. For this reason, make sure the task is clearly understood and offer to answer any questions related to the project. This is especially beneficial for team projects, because nonproducing employees can come in under the radar while other team members pick up their slack.

3. If the issue persists, start the Performance Improvement Plan process with your human resources department (if you have one).  Identify the problem behavior and come up with tangible goals the employee will need to meet in order to improve their performance.

4. Consider providing a business coach or in-house mentor that can provide valuable and productive guidance for the employee, including developing task management and time management skills.

5. Review their progress towards the goals in their Performance Improvement Plan on a regular basis. Determine any continuing issues. Stay firm and consistent. Even though it’s hard to have these types of discussions, slackers can hurt an entire team’s productivity, cause dissention and resentment in the workplace, and even hurt your business’s bottom line, especially if they deal directly with clients or customers.

6. If you have made every effort to help the employee out with little to no change, you may consider reassigning that person to a position within the company better suited to their abilities, or it may be time to let them go. If you aren’t in a position to do either of those things, refer them to your superior along with the documentation of what you have done to try to remedy the problem.

Confronting a problem employee is never easy—no one wants to be the bad guy. But the negative effects that person can have on those around them can be devastating to your company. Hopefully these tips will help you find resolution with your resident slacker.

Need help dealing with management and workplace issues? We’re here for you. Greg Thomas, our professional coach, has over 25 years of management experience and has mentored many business owners and managers just like you to help identify and solve workplace issues so that your organization can thrive! GET A QUOTE or more information on our personalized executive and business consulting services today.

*Image by David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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