A colleague of mine is frustrated with the slackers on his team. Truth is, I have a couple too. But as we talked it through, we realized we were to blame.
First, we wondered where they got the idea that they can get away with slacking off. The answer: Us. We’re the ones who set the standards for our teams. If somewhere along the line slacking off got to be OK, it’s because we let the standard slip.
Second, we realized that sometimes they just don’t have anything to do. There’s no demand for their work. In that case, we don’t have work flow balanced very well. That’s our job too, to make sure there’s the right amount of labor to keep every step of the process moving. Not enough, and someone waits (and looks lazy). Too much, and someone stands around (and looks lazy).
There are a few people in the world who will actively try to evade work, but I don’t think there are many. Instead, the ones you think are lazy more likely fall into the two categories described above: the opportunists, who just don’t work any harder than you make them, and the ones who run out of work. Either way, you can fix it.