To be or not to be … A Slacker?

Performance ManagementSuzanne Lucas contributed an article to CBSMoneyWatch entitled, 4 signs you’re a slacker. Interestingly, she contributed a subsequent article to CBSMoneyWatch entitled, Why You Should Be a Slacker.

A survey by Leadership IQ found that in 42 percent of companies, slackers report having the highest levels of satisfaction and engagement in their jobs. The Wall Street Journal explains that bosses are partially to blame for this phenomenon because they assign the slackers the easy projects. So instead of being stressed out at work, they generally have little trouble accomplishing their tasks. After all, diminished expectations are easier to achieve.

Of course, this raises the question, “who is more committed to their work?” Are the “strivers” who toil industriously to build a successful business, or “the kind of employees who spend half their day loitering by the coffee maker and tweeting their lunch adventures?” Susan says that the answer isn’t as obvious as you might think.

Qualities of a Slacker

The questions below, can be asked of yourself, a team member or a co-worker. Here are the identifying questions:

How many times per day does someone check their social media accounts?  Unless monitoring social media is a part of the job, two or three hours may mean that you may have identified a slacker.

How long does it take someone to refill their water glass or coffee mug? A trip to the office kitchen shouldn’t take more than five minutes. If the trips average 20 minutes each, there may be more chit-chatting than working and signs of a slacker.

Does a co-worker or team member spend time planning a big event that is not work-related? These big events could be a wedding, purchasing a new home, or readying a child for college. This focus on the big event could mean that someone may be spending too much work time on the project. Since one is not paid to do this at work, you may be seeing signs of a slacker.

Does a particular person always seems to get the easiest projects? If some of your coworkers are super busy and others find themselves less so, this could be a hint that a slacker has been identified. The team leader may be giving them easier work because they can’t be relied upon to complete more challenging assignments.

On the other hand, are there any benefits to being a slacker? Sue Shellenbarger of the Wall Street Journal reported on a new study in the Journal of Applied Psychology. Researchers found that slackers actually handled life better than their go getter counterparts.

A common belief is that to advance your career, you need a Type A” personality. As a super person, the more stress you’re under, the better you perform.

However, the research findings suggest that, “people who avoid problems, sometimes called slackers, actually do better with life conflict, and seem to have more energy. These so-called slackers, might elect to lie down and take a nap instead of tackling dilemmas right away, the finding that the “slackers” have more energy should not be surprising. After all, they just took power naps.

By taking some down time, “slackers” have time to evaluate whether this new problem is actually worth solving. All of us have experienced an “urgent request” that is downgraded to “never mind” because we have decided on a different direction. As proof all we have to do is check our email after be in a situation where it could not be prudently check, to find out how many problems magically solved themselves. It is often beneficial to develop solutions when you’re not staring at a problem directly. So it may not be a waste of time to take a walk or do something totally unrelated to a particular problem that is begging for a solution.

By the time one returns from a walk, they will feel less stressed and a “Type A” team member or coworker may have cleared your to-do list.

Related Articles:   Conflict Resolution … here’s how!   and   Listening … the internal obstacles!

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James E. McClain is the author of Successful Career Development: A Game Plan, the book upon which some of our training programs are based. He has over 30 years' experience as a corporate HR executive, small business owner with ongoing experience in career development and as a college instructor. His educational background includes a B.S. and Masters degrees Education and Certification in Financial Planning. Our promise is that "you can pay more for training but you can not buy better training." The mission is to deliver the most effective and cost effective training and development programs.

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Posted in Conflict Resolution, Performance Management, Professional Skills

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