There’s an emotional reaction to a dirty title. You have a choice between being offensive and being ignored - Robert Sutton

There are often those ‘irritating or contemptible’ people in the office who challenge and weaken your leadership. You keep reminding yourself that management is about the power to control, but these ‘slackers’, as we could call them, belittle all your efforts.

Let me describe a typical slacker for you. This will be that person at work who would have acquired immunity against the worst remarks, and will be living in a false sense of entitlement. Not just that, they are never regretful, and getting an apology from them is impossible.

Welcome to the concept of slacker management, where you are living with the ultimate choice of either giving up or giving in and becoming one. You are constantly devising rules to manage it well and save yourself, and in the process, end up feeling humiliated or otherwise worse about self.

Oftentimes, such employees are promoted, because that is the only way to get rid of them. Sounds weird? Here is what you can try instead:

  • A slacker will be a slacker: Try to focus on the productivity and outcome of the person. Stop trying to change or correct. We know it will not work.
  • Remain assertive: Slackers are infectious and can affect you even before you realize. Stay away, stay calm, and remain assertive. Do not get into a dialog or any argument.
  • Ignoring is the best solution: Slackers are attention grabbing, and will go out of the way to irritate or frustrate you to seek attention. Ignore them and keep your focus.
  • Move them out of line: Slackers make sure that they stand between everything important. From holding back information, to sharing incorrect details, to discouraging others at what they are doing, they have a way to mess up. Keep them in a box and put them on a close watch.
  • Practice detachment: Slackers have a way of trying to connect with you emotionally. They will go out of their way to show concern, build personal rapport, and go that extra mile for you. Do not get charmed. Stay detached, and only interact for work.

It is easy to preach, but hard to practice. Working with people who can actually put you in self-doubt, where you question your judgement and years of management experience, can be daunting. Follow the suggestions, and let me know if there is something better we can try. Slacker management is no easy job!

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