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.)