Scott Adams has given us the classic workplace slacker in Wally. Wally not only excels at dodging work, he flaunts it. Of course, we laugh at Wally’s “skill-set” because we all know and have worked with a slacker.
There are two types of slackers in most organisations, those who are in over their heads when it comes to getting the job done and those who are just plain lazy. Both types are difficult to deal with and both create morale problems in the workplace.
Regardless of type, slackers have common behaviours:
- They consistently fail to do what they’re expected to do.
- They excel at “busy work”.
- They’re the last to arrive, but the first to leave.
- They try to pass off tasks to other staff members.
- They often claim to be “too busy” to help out.
- They spend lots of time visiting around the office; often interfering with the work of others.
- They lots of time surfing the web, on personal phone calls or personal e-mail/messaging.
Here are some techniques for dealing with slackers:
- Talk with them in private about their behaviour, not in the middle of a team meeting.
- Don’t get angry. Remain calm and objective.
- Focus on measurable productivity. Don’t blame or accuse.
- Focus on the behaviour not the personality.
- Describe the behaviour’s negative impact on the team.
- Set clear expectations and set up an accountability system to track the expectations. Document the expectations in writing.
- Get a commitment to changing.
Some questions for consideration. Post your answers in the comments below.
- Have you dealt with slackers? How?
- Have you been a slacker?
- What were the consequences?
- What made you change your behaviour?
- Why is it important to avoid being confrontational?
- What kinds of skills do slackers need to work on? (E.g.: time management.)
Empowerment as a term is widely used and often misinterpreted; as a genuine action, it is difficult to put into practice. Empowerment is really about offering and receiving commitment so it is important to recognize that there are two kinds of commitment: external and internal.
External commitment occurs when employees have little control over their destinies and are accustomed to working under the command-and-control model.
Examples of external commitment:
- Tasks and the behavior to perform tasks are defined by others.
- Performance goals are defined by management.
- Goal importance is defined by others.
Internal commitment occurs when employees are committed to a particular project, person, or program for their own reasons or motivations. Internal commitment is very closely allied with empowerment.
Examples of internal commitment:
- Individuals define tasks and the behavior required to perform tasks.
- Management and individuals jointly define challenging performance goals.
- Individuals define the importance of the goal.
Consider ways that you can support your employees in developing an internal commitment to the work that you do. And, the ways you can also enhance your own commitment.
The Green Bay Packers were a lacklustre team prior to the arrival of Vince Lombardi. The now legendary coach turned the Packers into the dominant NFL team of the 1960s. Why such a turnaround? Frank Gifford says it wasn’t Lombardi’s knowledge that made the difference, it was his ability to motivate the players. “He could get that extra ten percent out of an individual,” Gifford says. “Multiply ten percent times forty men on the team times fourteen games a season—and you’re going to win.”
We have all known those people who bring out the best in others—coaches, teachers, parents, bosses. They seem to possess a knack for inspiring people. How do they do it? How do they inspire and motivate people?
Here are four actions that will help motivate and inspire others:
- Identify with people. Don’t say, “Look at the challenge you face,” but rather, “look at the challenge we face.” If you want people to look at a problem from your point of view, don’t stand across from them and yell. Go to their side and identify with them and guide them to your side.
- Acknowledge the seriousness of the situation. Don’t hide things from those you’re working with or try to sugarcoat the problem. Face the facts.
- Have a call to action. Challenge others to specific action. You can think, discuss, investigate and plan all you want. Until you get people to take action things are not going to move forward.
- Assign tasks. Once you have a response to action, lay out the plan. An effective leader can cut the problem down to size. Assign each person a task that they can manage.
The people who make an impact on the world don’t have to be geniuses or the best looking or the most talented. They are those who can inspire others to action.
Everyone likes to be appreciated!
This sounds like it should be common sense, but it doesn’t always translate to common action. This is especially true in non-profit organizations. There is an assumption that using rewards to show employee appreciation costs money; and money is generally in short supply in a non-profit. There are however, many ways to show appreciation and reward employees that cost little or nothing.
Bob Nelson, co-founder of the National Association for Employee Recognition, is passionate about recognizing and rewarding employees, and, more importantly, doesn’t believe it needs to cost much (or anything!) to do it effectively. His doctoral research focused on why managers do or don’t use praise or recognition with employees, and he has done research with employees to determine what has the most impact on them.
His book, 1001 Ways to Reward Employees: 100’s of New Ways to Praise! Revised & Updated 2nd Edition (aff), is full of simple, time-tested ways (1001) for rewarding employees, ways any manager in any organization can add to their arsenal.
Nelson lists three key principles for employee recognition:
- Match the reward to the person
- Match the reward to the achievement
- Be timely and specific
If you are looking for free or inexpensive ways to reward and recognize your employees, this book is a great resource.
By-the-way: it’s also works for volunteer appreciation.
If you think your employee’s poor performance is costing you profit, instead of overhauling your employee roster, why not try motivating them to become better employees? Smart managers never overlook this fact: loyal, productive employees are one of your biggest assets. From corporate cubicles to the factory floor, the collective skills and efforts of people keep your operation going.
You can easily set the right tone in the workplace by learning to respond to a basic need we all share… which is to be respected and valued.
What you need?
You know I got it!
Everyone wants to be treated with respect.
As a manager, your words, body language, even your facial expressions make a huge difference in how employees perceive your opinion of them. For instance, extending common courtesies such as “Good morning” or a nod as you pass others in the hallway says to them that they are not invisible to you.
Other demonstrations of respect could include asking employees for suggestions to improve operations and/or management. It’s another way of saying, “I respect and value your opinions.”
And never forget, meeting in private, with an employee who may have missed the mark says, “I respect you enough not to embarrass you in front of your co-workers…”
Two powerful words are important in employee motivation… “Great Job!”
By recognizing the work of others, you motivate them to keep working. You’ll find that regularly giving verbal or written praise for a job well done goes a long way in making employees feel appreciated. If workers feel that they play an important part in the company by the work they provide, they are much more likely to seek ways to improve their performance.
While cash incentives are a sure way to put a smile on an employee’s face, there are other creative ways to motivate employees through “thoughtful” gestures.
For individual rewards, how about gift certificates for DVD rentals, music CD purchases, theme park tickets or “Dinner for 2″ at a local eatery?
For group or departmental appreciations, consider a “Leave Work 30 Minutes Early Next Friday” reward. Or once-a-month, spring for dessert treats in honor of those celebrating birthdays in that calendar month. You are limited only by your imagination and budget.
Placing respect, recognition and reward at the heart of your employee motivation efforts will serve to boost morale, increase productivity and positively affect the company’s bottom-line. A WIN-WIN-WIN situation for all.
(These are not original thoughts, I’ve seen this piece attributed to various writers.)
Traditionally, Canada does not place well in the Olympic Summer Games. (The winter games is a better story.) Canadian athletes competing often surpass “personal best” results or break Canadian records for their sport. However, that’s not always good enough on the world stage.
You’ve trained and prepared, you’re motivated and ready, but you end up fourth, fifth or even last. What do you do when your personal best is not good enough?
Here are some steps you can take when you find yourself in that position. This is not a all-or-nothing or sequential list. This is a list of options to consider, to help you decide what your next step will be.
This seems obvious. If you feel you have potential to improve, you need to keep working toward that objective. A surprising number of people quit the moment they hit their first setback. Those who want to push their personal best to new levels keep working to improve.
Know when to quit
I once knew a woman who had a desire to lead a music group, despite the fact that she was not much of a musician. She never did anything to improve her musical ability and she was so focused on this impractical goal that she missed opportunities to engage and develop her genuine skills.
Sometimes you have to acknowledge that your personal best is not going to lead to success in an endeavour. Take a hard and honest look at your skills inventory and determine if you should be pursuing a different passion.
Know when to switch gears
Similar to knowing when to quit, sometimes you need to know when to take your current skills and passion in a different direction. For example, your painting skills may never get you into the National Gallery, but you may have the ability to be the next Bob Ross. By paring up two skills, you might be able to create something bigger than either of them.
Evaluate your pond size
There’s an expression that speaks of being a big fish in a small pond. This refers to people who are important within their circle of influence. You need to know what kind of pond you’re swimming in to determine the outcome of your efforts.
You may be the best swimmer in Canada, but competing on the world stage, at the Olympic Summer Games, brings a different standard of success. If you are content with being a big fish in a small pond, continue to enjoy what you’re doing.
Reduce the unnecessary
You may feel you have a novel in you just waiting to burst out and become a bestseller. However, you spend three or four hours per day camped in front of the television. That novel is likely to sit and perhaps get written by someone else.
Whatever you’re trying to achieve in life, you’ve got to take action if you’re going to succeed. A fool waits for opportunity to knock; a wise man searches out opportunity and wrestles with it until it gives in.
Learn, learn, learn
Whatever your goals and ambitions, you need to develop a personal plan for continuous improvement. You may aspire to be the next Michael Phelps, the best corn farmer in Taber, or the best math teacher in California. Success comes when you pursue learning opportunities. This is not merely signing up for a course at your local college. This is evaluating your abilities, reading, watching, practicing and so on.
Enjoy yourself and the Journey
Not every success is measured in medals, money or fame. Success is the completion of anything intended. Just because you pull out your camera everyday to take pictures doesn’t mean you want to be the next Clive Arrowsmith or Joe McNally. You may be looking through the lens for personal enjoyment, preserving family history or any number of things. If you’re enjoying the journey, you are one large step towards success.