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How do you deal with slackers on your team?


SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership — tracks feedback from over 240,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week in our newsletter.

How do you deal with slackers on your team?

  • I immediately counsel them and put them on performance plans: 8.3%
  • I try to figure out how to motivate them: 37.0%
  • I ignore things and hope their performance improves: 2.3%
  • I restructure their roles to make them happy: 1.7%
  • I use a combination of tactics: 50.7%

It’s about motivation… and consequences. Clearly the majority of you focus on finding your slackers’ motivation. That’s the key. They often have the skills and abilities to do great work — they just choose not to. Unlocking a slacker’s motivation is the key to turning around performance. That said, sometimes it’s impossible to find a way to motivate them in their current role. In those situations, the combination approach of finding motivation but then doling out consequences, up to and including termination, are on the table. Regardless of which approach you choose, doing nothing is not an option. The rest of your team sees the slacker getting away with it, and their morale suffers as a result.

Mike Figliuolo is managing director of thoughtLEADERS. Before launching his own company, he worked at McKinsey & Co., Capital One and Scotts Miracle-Gro. He is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He’s the author of three leadership books: “One Piece of Paper,” “Lead Inside the Box” and “The Elegant Pitch.”