If you’re a manager or supervisor, then you’ll agree that a lazy employee is the last issue that should be giving you headaches. After all, you already have a lot on your plate with your responsibility of turning in profits, part of which goes towards paying the wages of your employees. Yet, one of your employees will at one time decide that he/she isn’t in a mood to pull their weight as others strive to push the organization towards its mission. Think about a group of people pushing on a huge load with all their might and there’s this one guy putting absolutely no effort; this is the exact situation your organization finds itself in with a lazy employee in its ranks. How frustrating must that be? I know it makes you want to pull your hair out or maybe, scream your lungs out in exasperation.
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Hold on; none of these drastic actions is going to magically transform a sloppy worker into a worker-bee. Does it mean that you should just assume the lazy tendency in the hopes that the employee is going to change? Hell no. Laziness is like a virus; it might soon spread to the rest of your workforce turning them into balloons that have been deflated of morale. This is the time your leadership skills learnt in management school will be called into action; a combination of professionalism and firmness is the right dosage to cure your employee of the laziness disease that currently ails him.
1. What Are my Options?
It’s been weeks since you noticed your employee’s been slacking off in his duties. Hmmm… what are your options? That must be the pertinent question racking your brain as you think about taking care of this ‘problem.’ That’s simple; take a walk down the corridor to the human resources officer who is sure to enlighten you on the policies you could use to eradicate this laziness. While you are on your way to the HR’s, carry a pen and paper – you’ll need to write down the worker’s act of laziness, which amount to insubordination in line with your organization’s guidelines. Keep in mind that you may need to have that ‘talk’ with this lazy employee, the end of which might mean him clearing out his desk. Yeah, telling someone that their services are no longer needed is one of the hardest things to do as the boss but what else are you to do when they refuse to change their ways? The bottom line is that company interests come first.
2. Is Everything Okay With You?
This question sums up what your discussion with the employee should be about. It is okay to arm yourself with all the evidence of the employee’s acts of sloppiness, including log in and log out records as well as co-worker complaints – just keep them anonymous; the last thing you want to do is start a cold war in the workplace by revealing the names of those who complained. As a matter of fact, don’t bring out the evidence to the employee, unless absolutely necessary – after all, you aren’t in a court trial trying to jog a witness’s memory by parading exhibits before their eyes. In contrast, you should call on your counseling skills in your discussions with your slack worker – he might just open up to you about any problems that might be fermenting his laziness. This way, you will be able to see how to help him eradicate his slackness, by tackling the problem causing it. See, that didn’t go so bad; you get to avoid having to take drastic actions against the employee and he gets to find someone to help him with the problem he’s facing.
3. I Got my Eyes on You
What if the problem persists? What if this lazy tendency doesn’t cease? Well, it’s time to take it a notch higher and make your presence felt in the workplace. Literally. It’s time to put on your supervisor’s gown – if you ever have one – and start to keep a watchful eye on all your employees. Now, am not talking about the scenes you see in the movies – you know, a hawk-eyed prison guard wearing sunglasses, cowboy’s hat, shotgun in hand and on horseback while watching over convicts working in the fields. Still, supervision will mean keeping a keen eye on what your employees are doing. Guess what; you might be surprised to learn that your supervision is exactly what the lazy ones needed to get going. Uhh…just be careful not to single out the culprit(s) because you might just be undoing all the team spirit you have put in the office by alienating the lazy employee.
4. Accountability, Accountability and Accountability
Remember the days you give out an assignment and it’s never completed on time? How about when your clients complain about your low-quality products or services? Well, all this occurs because there is no system that holds your workers accountable. The day you create a system that makes all employees accountable will be the day you wave goodbye to employee laziness. Next time you give out an assignment, provide a clear deadline when you want it completed. If necessary, you could use some tough love and spell out the consequences for those who don’t meet the set expectations. It doesn’t stop there; you will constantly need to review the targets for the lazy employee to see whether he/she has been rid of this virus called ‘laziness.’ However, don’t wait after a long period before having a sit-down with your employee – always check on his/her progress and offer advice on what he/she can improve on.
5. Spice up The Office
Imagine a work schedule that goes like this: wake up at 6 a.m., get to work at 8 a.m., spend the rest of the day at your desk working on paperwork and leave for home at 5 p.m. – it happens this way five days a week; tomorrow is no different. Do you see where am going with this? Putting your employees through the same old routine is bound to turn one of them into a lazybone. Everyone loves a good challenge; it’s time to spice up your lazy employee’s work schedule by giving him responsibilities that allow him to put his strengths and interests to practice. For example, if the laziness bug bites him whenever he works solo, it might be time to put him in a group setting. Or maybe he has a lot of time on his hands because he has little to do; you may have to give him more responsibilities. This way, his brain does not lie fallow; what with the immense knowledge and skills he may be possessing up there. And what’s in it for you? Well, you get to have a productive employee renewed by more responsibilities that cater to his strengths. Everyone wins, right?
As a manager, you should understandably have a phobia towards employee laziness. If you don’t, then findings of State of the American Workplace Report should be more than enough to make you phobic towards this behavior; lazy workers cost the United States close to $550 billion between 2008 and 2010 – now that’s a lot of money that could do a lot of things. Next time you notice one of your employees slacking off, think back to these numbers. Do you want to be making part of the statistics of organizations that have lost millions to employee disengagement? No? Then, you would have to nip employee laziness in the bud.