In the workplace, regardless of the size of the workforce, an issue which is a constant is how do you deal with the underperforming employee, known commonly as ‘the slacker’. The size of the workforce is not a material issue except in terms of how this is done and what is done earlier in the process.
For Example, in a larger organization, a formal job description, a formal review process, the opportunities for further training may all be part of the company infrastructure. For the medium sized company or small company, the job description is probably written, but not so much for the rest. For the entrepreneurial group or start up venture none of these items may be present. Even though there is still an extremely tight job market with numerous people seeking employment, many managers and people who are ‘the boss’ take no action at all in dealing with under-performing employees, or ‘slackers’ as they might be called by some.
There are some initial practices which should be put into place first to be certain everyone is aware, who needs to be aware, that there is a potential issue.
First would be a review on a regular basis which should be conducted by a few different people, again this would depend upon the size of the workforce. In a larger organization, a Human Resources specialist might be one of the people, as an example. This is when there is a check in with the employee. Here is what you were hired to do. Here is what we see you are doing. Let’s have a discussion around the discrepancy.
Second would be taking the time and the effort to be certain the entire team, group, division or company is aware of the big vision, the mission, and the culture of the organization. A regular check in on morale and culture is as important as the review of the one person.
Third is to gain a clear understanding of stress, timeliness and workload. This formula, Stress + Timeliness + Workload + Quality = Performance, is typically a good indicator of how employees are performing. For example: with a score of 10 in each category being the ‘best’ in handling stress, in being on time with projects and arriving and departing, and in handling the workload and quality and a 1 being the lowest it will become clear where the problems lie in the workforce.
Fourth is to conduct group meetings or team meetings to inspire the group or the team and to hear if there are any issues or problems and to do your best to address these in the open with everyone in the room.
Lastly is when the under-performer or ‘slacker’ is just not responding, you need to have a clear purpose in meeting and formally describing the situation. It is actually a last chance meeting. This meeting is giving them a last chance to improve.
These are important steps to follow in creating a great team and solid employees. There is a risk in not addressing the under-performing employee. Other employees are impacted in a number of ways when a slacker is part of the workforce. In addition, potentially, deadlines are missed or poor finished work is delivered. In order for either of these examples to be prevented other employees need to cover or step in. This is no way to instill good morale and the feeling of working on a great team.
In summary, when you have a slacker – “Let Them Go!” You will be doing the right thing for your business and in actuality it is ultimately the right thing to do for the slacker as well.
Mitch Tublin is an advanced certified personal and executive coach who lives in Stamford, CT.