Do Your Employees Believe Everyone is Committed to Doing Quality Work?

By Michael W. Hill, Mobius Vendor Partners Executive Consultant, Birkman Professional

When employees observe someone doing less than quality work, overall company performance will suffer. 

There are two possible scenarios when this occurs. One, other employees are given the task of  finishing that employee’s work. The other is that they don’t need to pick up the other person’s work, but they see this behavior going  on, and it bothers your top performers.

Common problems we see are employees checking social media multiple times a day, long lunch breaks and leaving the office early. Sometimes these situations cause other employees to pick up the slack. Although the work may ultimately get done, the mental state of the ones doing extra, will suffer. Sometimes doing others’ work causes that person to stop giving a 100% effort or worse, they leave the company.

If this is occurring in your workplace, it’s helpful to understand work styles that may be at play. At Mobius Vendor Partners, we are practitioners of the Birkman Method® which can help you identify whether a person is a Doer, Communicator, Analyzer or a Thinker. Knowing how much or how little a person is in the Doer category allows you to formulate plans to become more productive. 

Let’s first look at the scenario where you observe a “slacker” (someone not pulling their own weight) but their performance or lack of performance really doesn’t affect the quality or quantity of your own work. Susan David, the founder of the Harvard/McLean Institute of Coaching, says: “If your slacking coworker isn’t impacting your ability to do your job or your ability to advance in the organization, move on and focus on your own work.” Allan R. Cohen, a professor of management at Babson College and author of Influence Without Authority, goes on to suggest that, as irritating as it can be, you shouldn’t become the behavior police unless their slacking is materially affecting your work. “You don’t want to have the reputation of an oversensitive alarm detector.”

Now, let’s address the scenario when the “slacker’s” performance affects your work, either quality or quantity. No one likes picking up someone else’s slack. But when a colleague leaves early, misses deadlines and doesn’t give 100% to a project, it can be difficult to determine the best course of action. Should you confront them about their behavior? Speak to your boss? Or mind your own business? 

We recommend that before you start making a lot of assumptions, you ask the co-worker. You never know what’s going on for other people until you ask. If someone isn’t upholding their end of things, you need to define the problem. Don’t attack them – but don’t let them off the hook, either.

Let the slacker know the impact of his or her behavior by talking with them. Explain the ripple effect it’s having and see if you can understand the root cause. Sure, some slackers are just lazy. But others may simply be oblivious or bogged down in inefficient, ineffective processes. You may be able to offer a few helpful pointers to improve the situation. A respectful, professional conversation can put the co-worker on notice. They’ll be aware that the behavior is problematic. At that point, they can’t claim ignorance. Most people will step up their game when they’re no longer “getting away” with it.

If a conversation with your co-worker doesn’t work, your next step would be to talk with your  manager. Approach the conversation with the boss by showing empathy, an open mind and specific examples. Don’t come across as a complainer. If you handle the situation with grace, your manager will be impressed. 

At this point, management needs to accept the responsibility for trying to find out what might be causing the employee’s performance to dip. Perhaps there are issues outside of work the employee is dealing with, maybe they don’t understand the assignment, or maybe they are just not qualified to do the work. Whatever the issue might be, it needs to be addressed immediately. Management needs to intervene with curiosity and compassion. Waiting for the issue to solve itself never works.

You may want our help. 

At Mobius Vendor Partners, we have the software to measure whether your employees are dealing with any “slackers” within your organization. After measuring it, we can help you with suggestions to solve the problem. This is an important component to improving and sustaining your overall Employee Experience. Contact us to learn more.