Weed Out The Slackers

A recent article from Salary.com author, Jeffery A. Jolton, notes that employee behavior at work could be the result of a certain stimulus. Individuals are normally thought to be  productive, but can react oppositely under certain circumstances. What causes this dysfunctional behavior in the workplace? The most annoying behavior is often laziness. As a manager, your job is to ensure that employees are engaged and producing at their highest capacity. This means your employees need to be more than engaged – they need to be satisfied to be productive. What kind of employee characteristics make you cringe? What can you do to fix this problem?

There is a spectrum of characteristics of an unsatisfied employee. This can range from the employee who isn’t producing and is merely existing in the work environment to the employee who complains about everything and never takes action toward a solution for the problems. These are what the article refers to as “slackeys”, and there are Happy Slackeys and Whiney Slackeys.

Happy Slackeys are those who harbor no real dissatisfaction with the company. They just come to work, punch the proverbial (or literal) clock, and maintain some level of minimally acceptable job performance.

Whiney Slackeys are those who are dissatisfied. These are the employees with an attitude problem. Unlike their content brethren, these employees complain about everything – whether it’s real or not – that is is wrong with the company.

Although it may be taxing, you do need to discern between the positive and negative information the employee is giving. Be sure to acknowledge which complaints are legitimate and need to be addressed, versus which irrelevant complaints can be dismissed. Be sure that you don’t throw a blind eye to engaged employees trying to provide feedback that could help the organization.

What allows slackers to continue slacking is a management failure. You need to be sure that you are holding your employees accountable for their actions and their work. Be sure you have made performance standards very clear, and make consequences for when those standards are not met. Your employees need feedback in regards to their performance, and it is your job to communicate this with each employee. You are responsible for one-on-one communication with employees to address the feedback they need in order to excel at their job. If you do not offer this communication to your employees, especially your Slackeys, they will continually fly right under performance par. What happens then?

As a result, companies end up reinforcing the Slackeys through neglect and avoidance. For a manager, these are difficult people to engage and motivate. The Happy Slackey is pleasant and their good cheer makes it difficult for some managers to have performance discussions with them. The Whiney Slackey is caustic in attitude and people have to avoid them.

Slackers aren’t going to just uproot and find greener pastures (they are slackers, after all) – they will stay until something is done about the situation. What should you do? Document individual employee performance issues. Offer warnings and chances to better performance, and if that doesn’t help, you’ll have to let them go.

As a manager, you have to give it your best try, but realize you are paying the Slackey when you could be using the same salary to pay another productive worker, or give a raise to the other workers who make up the slack.

It’s a never ending work-in-progress to keep employees engaged, productive and satisfied, but pay attention to the on-boarding process. Being meticulous from the first moment will help reduce problems throughout the work-life cycle. Be sure that you hire individuals that share characteristics of the organization’s culture. Also, remember that Slackeys exist at all levels of an organization. They will drain resources and energy, and lessen the performance of the organization as a whole. To read more about how to identify and deal with Slackeys within your organization, click here to read the full article.

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