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Jun23
Finding a Place for Your "Dead Weight"
I read a great article in the Washington Post by Amy Joyce entitled Dead-Weight Workers Drag Everyone Down. In this article, Joyce talks about the negative effect lazy workers have on everyone and how it drives morale down. Now my guess is that some of you have some of this “dead weight” in your organization and wonder how you would handle it if you were in management (maybe some of you are…) and so I though of a couple of ideas for you.      

1.  Figure out if the “dead weight” is a bad fit for the job.      

Did you know that you wouldn’t be nearly as productive in a job that you either hate or are ill suited for? It’s just possible that your “dead weight” is really an incredible worker, but just filling the wrong position. Perhaps a good strategy would be to sit down and talk about the “dead weight’s” job and performance and see if a change of task would solve the problem. This could be a very easy fix.      

2.  Figure out if the “dead weight is a bad fit for the organization.      

I know companies have missions and value statements and most are so much wall candy, but some organizations actually do live out their missions. If your “dead weight” isn’t inspired by what your organization does, or if they’re simply anti-whatever it does, chances are this demotivates them. I’m not suggesting you change your complete strategy to inspire the “dead weight,” but at least see if this could be causing the problem.      

3.  Set some performance goals and actually hold the “dead weight” accountable.      

I’m all about feel-good solutions – you probably know that from my writing. Sometimes though a return to basics becomes necessary. This means unleashing some MBO (Management by Objectives) on the “dead weight” and establishing basic standards. You’ll need to be very clear on the standards and the process you’ll use to monitor the “dead weight.” You’ll also have to hold to any discipline processes you agree to – which may of course lead to strategy #4…      

4. Get rid of the “dead weight.”      

When all else fails, this may be your only solution. In fact, your “dead weight” may secretly relish the thought of leaving your organization for something else. Keep in mind that the business of business is making a profit, not being socially and morally responsible for your employees’ basic needs. There is a trade-off here – a good day’s work for a good day’s pay. You’ve obviously kept your end of the bargain; now take care of business when the “dead weight” neglects theirs.  

In a perfect world, everyone would put in the required work without complaint, but you’ll rarely experience this with all your employees. Be sensitive yet firm and you’ll soon come up with the right strategy to handle your “dead weight.”

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