Your Office Coach: Employee’s slacking off will continue until manager gets serious

Q: A supervisor who reports to me never gives more than the minimum effort. “Rick” is so lazy that his emails don’t even contain complete sentences. Despite being a salaried employee, he refuses to work more than eight hours per day. If it’s time for his shift to end, he will walk out in the middle of a conversation.

Although our jobs require evening and weekend work, Rick only comes in on weekdays. When he creates the monthly schedule for his group, he assigns all the undesirable hours to his staff. They have absolutely no respect for him, but he doesn’t seem to care.

Rick and I have had several cordial discussions about these issues, so he is aware of the problem. However, he shows no signs of improving. I recently took on some of his duties myself just to keep things running. How do you manage someone who is only working for the paycheck?

A: Take a moment to consider Rick’s point of view. He can set his own schedule, define his hours and avoid inconvenient assignments. You have lessened his workload by taking on tasks he dislikes. Apart from those “cordial discussions,” you generally leave him alone. Since Rick’s only goal is to get paid, things are working out perfectly for him.

Because Rick currently has no reason to reform, the first change must be in your leadership style. Instead of allowing him to run the show, you need to begin managing him much more closely and much more firmly. Start by establishing clear expectations about his hours and his behavior, then take steps to insure that those expectations are met.

If Rick tries to walk off during a conversation, tell him not to leave. If his emails are unintelligible, send them back for rewriting. Require him to submit his monthly schedule for approval, and don’t allow him to shirk the evening and weekend shifts. If he fails to show any improvement, remove him from his supervisory role.

The leadership lesson here is that unacceptable behavior must trigger appropriate consequences. Intractable performance problems are never resolved by simply continuing to talk about them.

Q: I’m looking for a new job because my manager drives me crazy. She will make my life even more miserable if she learns about my job search, so I don’t want prospective employers calling here. Should I put “do not contact my current employer” on my resume?

A: Adding that statement to your resume is neither wise nor necessary. First, it would immediately make people wonder what you’re trying to hide. Second, a background check is not even likely unless someone talks with you and concludes that you’re a viable candidate. Therefore, you should plan to explain your desire for secrecy during the interview.

For example: “Because no one knows about my job search, I would prefer that you not contact my current employer. However, if I were to be offered the position, you could certainly do so at that time.” Most interviewers understand that applicants don’t want their job-seeking activities publicized, so this request should not raise any red flags.

About The Writer

Marie G. McIntyre is a workplace coach and the author of “Secrets to Winning at Office Politics.”

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