Slacker employees are not just detrimental to their own productivity, but can also hurt morale. Their lackluster performance can cause their colleagues to become resentful at picking up the slack – plus, there is also the risk of that indifferent or negative attitude toward work spreading to others. Reprimanding or disciplining slackers may serve to make them defensive and angry, instead of improving their behavior.
Instead of getting mad, use these tips to get to the root cause of slacking and fix it before it gets worse:
Consider Employee’s Perspective
Starting off a conversation with a slacking employee on an angry note will likely make him defensive and escalate the situation into an unhelpful confrontation. Instead, focus on creating a dialogue. Open the conversation with a personal, empathetic approach using details you’ve observed and other information you know about the employee and his job. For instance, “I understand that you have a lot of high priority tasks and are likely stressed, but I’ve noticed you’ve been missing deadlines lately.”
Ask for Solutions
To continue the conversation in a productive manner, ask a slacking employee for her ideas on how to fix the situation. Being told what to do probably won’t be effective if the employee has already lost motivation and is disengaged. Allowing her to be a part of the process is not only personally empowering, but you as a manager can gain insight into issues you may not have realized the employee was dealing with, such as inefficient processes required by other departments or even outdated software that inhibits her workflow.
Offer Your Advice
Once you’ve heard from your employee, wrap up the conversation by providing your own suggestions for how the employee could prevent future occurrences of unsatisfactory performance. Be specific so there is no confusion. Let your employee know that you’ll check in on his progress at a predetermined time to see if additional changes need to be made. Setting a follow up evaluation time shows your employee that now that you’re both on the same page about the factors that led to the slacking, the behavior will not be tolerated and improvement is expected.
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