Not long ago I read a story about slackers. Being from Austin I get the concept.

The story involved slackers in the workplace and how you must develop skill at finding them. You hunt them down and then [somehow] get rid of them. Like hunting for zombies.

Afterwards simply by their removal everything is milk and honey.

The more I thought about it the more it didn’t make sense. Here’s why:

  • Why look for slackers post-hire? Isn’t that what the recruiting process helps to sort out? You know: references, recommendations, verifications. That stuff. The dirty work we sometimes moan about “slowing us down.” The pre-hire process matters for a lot of reasons. One is as a predictor of work ethic. Let your team do the full pre-hire process so your slacker candidate stays just that – a candidate.
  • Assuming you did an effective job recruiting and people started strongly if they’ve now slackified what happened? Vague goals, poor management, no feedback, confusing priorities all form a nice witches’ brew for any employee to turn from promising new hire to slacking status. Do they have complicity in this? Of course they do: we’re all adults. Do they have control? No: you do. Start at the source.
  • Finally, unless your organization is atypical most of your people are already pulling their weight and then some. The few who can’t or won’t contribute are easily indentifiable and will either be forced to conform or exit via peer pressure, or if need be, by management intervention. Why spend precious time searching out non-performers when they’re already standing on their laptops waving yellow flags at you? You know who they are. Just deal with them.

Its true that over time some people’s efforts fade. The reasons are countless. We’re human. We’re complex. But you don’t need special zombie-hunting skills to find low performers. With even the simplest management system its evident if people are contributing if you pay attention to results.

In healthy workplaces we deal with non-performance and the underlying causes. Privately. Professionally. Respectfully. Frankly, the earlier this is done the greater the likelihood that people will return to success.

Assume not only that your people are capable of high performance but actually aspire to it. Take action to reinforce and build on that esteem.

Few of us aspire to slackification.


2 thoughts on “Slackification

  1. I think your last line says it all. Few people aspire to be slackers…it’s easy to blame the person and their work ethic, but you have to ask whether your work environment might have contributed to it. I like how you presented this.

  2. This is great advice, but sadly advice that is seldom followed by organisations. I suspect it’s easier to assign blame to the worker than to address your point 2, which I believe is the main cause for disengagement and disenfranchisement in the workplace. Christopher, another great post – thank you.

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