5 Tips For Managing the Lazy Employee

I’ve always expected that my employees won’t immediately get to work the moment they arrive.  They will likely take some time to make coffee, chat with some of their colleagues, and then get to work. During the workday, people will take breaks which reinvigorate us to tackle the next project. 

But what about those workers who don’t focus on their work. A Paychex.com survey found that most of the 2,000 people they surveyed said they wasted more than an hour of work time each day.  That costs companies a lot of money.

So, what should you do if someone on your team doesn’t focus on work?

1) Set up a meeting with the person.  In a confidential chat, you want to find out what is causing this behavior. Is it deliberate? Is there something going on at work or at home that you don’t know about that is impacting their performance? Listen. Don’t be accusatory. Explain what you observe or are hearing from others.

2) Depending on what you learn, you might need to work with your employee on a “refresh.” This might be helpful if the person was once a strong performer and no longer feels challenged. Is there a different task, even temporarily, that could help the person?

3)  Make sure the person knows what is expected of them and all deadlines. This means you will want to make sure you convey assignments verbally and in writing.  Many of the workers Paychex com surveyed said they didn’t have enough work to do. While that’s not likely, you need to take away the excuse.

4) Create a structure. I don’t like mandating start times, break times, and stop times, as I prefer to treat workers as adults who can imagine themselves as professionals. But if someone abuses the privilege, then they have to be managed differently. They need mandated structure include break times for lunch, smokes, etc. No more two-hour lunch breaks.

5) Monitor their workplace activities. If you’ve assigned the work, set deadlines, and established structure, your job is not done. If you don’t monitor their habits, they are likely to revert to their original practices. If someone does, warn them. If they do it again, you might have to move to discipline that includes suspension. If the behavior persists, the person may need to be fired.

Like with other challenging types of workers, as a manager, you cannot ignore the issue hoping that the problem will fix itself.  Benjamin Walker, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of New South Wales Australian School of Business, found that the laziest member of a team plays the biggest role in determining the success or failure of that team. Or, as the old cliche says, “You are only as strong as your weakest link.”

I’ve looked at the research on how you can most effectively deal with each personality type that you might find in the workplace. That’s in lesson 3 of my online course, “Managing Difficult People.” Sooner or later, we all have to deal with workers who cause issues.  This 90-minute seminar will provide you the knowledge and confidence to deal with problem workers.  Click HERE for more information.

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