Avoiding The Slack
Working with someone who doesn’t pull their weight at the office can create stress. You may be stuck putting in extra hours to cover for them, feeling like the rules change daily, or even find your department has a bad rep within the company. Even if you go home on time, you may feel resentful watching them text their friends and shop online while you’re toiling away.
What can add to the frustration is when you begin to suspect slacking may be a part of the company culture you may not have been aware of, or find your department has developed the habit and pattern of doing extra, unnecessary work to stay busy.
Whether you’re a coworker or a manager, you can start a constructive conversation to discourage slacking. Consider these tips for holding onto your peace of mind while promoting greater efficiency and teamwork.
When You’re A Coworker Dealing With Slackers:
- Focus on productivity. Start out by putting your emotions aside and figuring out whether your colleague’s behavior really affects your ability to do your job. Otherwise, it’s probably not worthwhile to pursue the issue.
- Strengthen relationships. When you’re ready to talk, focus on collaborating to find a solution. If you can build a connection with your teammate, they’ll probably want to avoid letting you down.
- Revise the process. If discussions deadlock, you may need to act on your own. Can you restructure your job to bypass the coworker who misses deadlines? Even better, maybe you can cover the tasks that are slipping through the cracks. This may be feasible if it’s minor stuff
When You’re A Manager Dealing With Slackers:
- Establish measurable goals. Employees may underperform if standards are imprecise. Set targets they can aim for, like making 10 calls an hour or bringing in 12 new clients each year. The key is understanding whether targets will actually help reach the stated goals. Are you solving problems or trying to look busy to higher ups? Managers set the culture for employees.
- Control cyberslacking. Of course, the internet has spawned more ways to waste time. Set a good example by limiting your own non-work related browsing. Create policies that set reasonable limits and define appropriate sites.
- Ask for input. If you’re unsure how to proceed, enlist the employee’s cooperation by asking them for their feedback. They may be able to suggest whether they need closer supervision or a quieter workspace. Just being consulted may help them to feel more engaged.
Follow up to let employees know that their accomplishments will be noticed and appreciated. Praise them for taking on a heavier workload successfully.
Give the whole office an extra day off to reinforce a sense of teamwork. Take action if office productivity is suffering because employees are loafing around. Dial down the tension by focusing on the positive aspects of your work, and develop strategies to help the whole team give 100%.