Having a Lazy Employee Is Your Fault

How not to label employees as lazy

Dear Managers,

I’m tired of you labeling your employee as a”lazy employee”  First off, it’s name-calling and in some cases (where it goes too far) it could be constituted as bullying.  Do you have an employee that’s not cutting the mustard?  Try out these tips below:

Tip #1:  Stop Calling Them Lazy

So maybe you’re not calling them to their face, but you’re certainly treating them that way.  Ever heard the phrase “self fulfilling prophecy”?  When you label an employee in such a manner it almost becomes reality.  Despite their best intention a “lazy employee” ends up being just that – lazy.  Refrain from the labeling, change your mindset, give them the opportunity to surprise you.

Tip #2: Define “Their” Lazy

What exactly is the employee doing or not doing that constitutes laziness?  Are they not completing their workload? Are there objectives that are falling behind?  Make a list of things they are supposed to be doing that they are not doing.  Find out exactly the problem.  Investigate.

Tip #3:  Are You Being Lazy to Their Needs?

Ever heard the saying when you point a finger there’s three pointing back at you? Take a long hard look in the mirror.  When’s the last time you spoke to this employee?  Encouraged them?  Given them some guidance or training on your business needs?  Employees normally don’t do the things they a) feel are unnecessary, b) what they don’t like to do, or c) what they don’t know how to do.  Figure out the “why” of their performance.  Ask yourself: “What could I be doing differently?”

Tip #4:  Set Goals

Finish lines are great motivators!  Set a meeting, ask their opinion on expectations, and discuss some goal-setting with them. Write down at least three goals they need to complete, talk about your expectations, and give a deadline for those to be completed.  Allow them in the process.  You may be surprised how much an employee is motivated to get things done when involved in the goal-setting process.

Tip #5:  For Cryin-Out Loud – Talk to Them!

Would you drive your car on a deflated tire?  Why are you allowing an employee who is lacking to continue to do so?  Have the heart-to-heart, bring them into a closed door meeting and discuss.  And when you do, be sure you allow them the time to explain their needs.  Indicate the seriousness but do so in a professional and concerned manner.  In some cases, you never know what personal things may be affecting an employee’s performance. The only way you’ll find out is by asking.

 Do you have lazy employees?

Are you disgusted that you have to do the above for your “so-called lazy employees”?  Well, guess what?  You should be doing it for all of them, lazy employees or not.  Identification, problem-solving, goal-setting, and communication are sure fire ways to keep your employees engaged, on track, and positive.  So lose the label.


Your Friendly Neighborhood HR Manager

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Christine Assaf

Christine Assaf is an experienced HR Professional with a passion for Social Media. Blogging for over three years Christine started HRTact.com, a professional blog, that talks about all these HR related – both from the manager and employee perspective. You will often find her on twitter exchanging HR wisdom from "behind the scenes." A conference speaking veteran, Christine enjoys helping job seekers with skills assessment, resume review, and mock interviews and coaching executives on best strategies. She is also an active participant in Toastmasters, plays Dungeons & Dragons, loves football and running. Christine’s wit and charm light up the “internet” with the perfect combo of HR knowledge and snark. You can connect with Christine on LinkedIn.


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