Concerned some of your employees may be slacking? Manage it with ease with these simple steps

Concerned some of your employees may be slacking? Manage it with ease with these simple steps

If you’re a hard working business leader, consistently busting a gut to get great results, there’s nothing worse than feeling like you’re paying people salaries and they’re slacking off.

It can be really painful when employees want to receive pay increases when every time you look around they’re having a chit chat with their neighbour, seemingly not getting on with pushing the business forward.

Can you relate to this?

If you can, this article is for you.

I’ve worked with an extensive range of Business Leaders across a range of sectors and it’s one of the common frustrations I hear when coaching.

That said, it can feel like a huge deal. The emotions attached to this situation can feel overwhelming, but it actually can be easily remedied. It’s not necessary to keep it bubbling away until your blood boils.

Even the most confident of business leaders sometimes struggle with difficult conversations and feedback. The thought process seems to be “I shouldn’t have to tell them that”.

Now..it’s not for me to tell you to speak to them about it or not. Only you know if you would rather make changes and start improving your performance.

At POD HR & Training, we provide leadership development in Brighton and the surrounding area. Sometimes, we even travel further afield. In fact, just a few weeks ago I was in Newcastle! Leadership development is one of our specialist areas, so I wanted to share some insights into some easy and effective ways to re-shape your view of the situation and take action to resolve it.

Employees working together at a desk and chatting having fun

Concern or reality?

First, it’s important to ensure that you’re making a fair and reasonable conclusion. I know. Sounds boring. However, I promise it’s essential for your bottom line!

Mis-judging people breaks trust. It can also cause you to end up paying out unnecessary recruitment costs if you scare people away with false perceptions that are due to your own concerns or a tarnished view from past experiences.

I’ll give you an example.

I saw a new client recently. He’d had CCTV installed last year and has since caught an employee reading what he thought was a magazine at work. He got frustrated at all of the time he was looking down, rather than at the computer. Over the next few weeks, he was getting more and more flustered as time went on.

One day, he decided to confront the employee. When he got there, he discovered it was a trade magazine which the employee was reviewing to develop his product knowledge.

The conclusions we make in our mind can be very dangerous!

It’s far better to be curious and investigate before passing judgement. Curiosity before conclusions could save you thousands of pounds in recruitment costs by keeping relationships in a healthy state.

Team working together productively

Address it before it builds up

Creating a feedback culture is the answer to all of your slacking woes.

Recently, I was a key speaker at a leadership group. One of the key things that came to light is that leaders can take a surprisingly long time to address difficult situations.

Partly, this is because they’re frustrated that they have to have the conversation, making quick judgements about behaviours. Aside from that, many Leaders are unsure how to turn their frustration into professional feedback.

Holding back feedback is as risky as driving through a red light.

Eventually there will be a crash and burn.

Every day you hold it back, it’s bubbling away inside translating into your actions and behaviours towards your employees. This often creates an invisible barrier that can drive people away, and not just the ones that you think are slacking! You could be losing your top talent. They can sense the emotion in you and make their own meaning from it.

One of the worst things you can do is be walking around, frustrated as if a dark cloud was following you through the office. People feel it. Then, they get distracted from the task in hand whilst they try and figure out why you’re behaving differently.

In addition to that, the more you treat employees like they’re slacking, the more this will become the reality.


Because when people feel your judgement or frustration, they’ll become even more de-motivated and things can get worse.

So, what do you do instead?

  1. Investigate.
  2. Get the facts
  3. Give feedback

There’s a structured way to deliver feedback effectively.

In NLP, we understand how the mind receives and blocks information. We use a feedback tool which gets past the ‘gatekeeper’ of the mind and straight to the control panel where change can occur.

The process for this is as follows:

Say what they’re doing well AND what they can improve.

For example:

“You’re doing really well with the customer calls coming in. Your greeting is really professional! AND now to improve on that even further, you can think about how you use your time to maximise more of your day on business critical tasks.”

What if you still see unwanted behaviours?

More feedback!!

Feedback is not a one off task. A business coach once told me many years ago that if you’ve not given training, coaching, or feedback that day, you’ve not been a leader.

Feedback is always ongoing.

That said, if the same issue keeps coming back, you should change the tone of the feedback.

For example:

“What you’re doing well is your tone with the customer AND now I need you to work on acting on my feedback. There have been several occasions when I’ve asked you to maximise more of your day and I’m still seeing no increase in customer calls. This is really important. What are your plans to make these changes? How many calls can I expect to see? What could prevent you from achieving this? How can you overcome that? What do you need from me?”

It could be that they need coaching rather than feedback. Feedback is suitable for a team member that’s at the top end of the learning curve. This means that they have all the knowledge and skills required to do the job, but for some reason they’re not quite there.

If they’re still learning the job then coaching will be more appropriate. For more information on this you can download our eBook on staff training which clearly outlines the learning curve and what development is appropriate at what stage.

Set goals

Slacking could also be a symptom that they’re not clear on the best ways to use their time. They could lack purpose.

That’s why setting goals is key to keep performance moving forwards.

Have you heard of SMART goals?

A SMART goal is:





Time bound

This is the definition of a real goal that will keep performance constantly moving upwards.

If your team isn’t behaving as you would expect, perhaps you could review what they’re working towards. When I work with Leaders and their teams, I often ask the team what their goals are and what is expected of them.

This helps me to check if their understanding matches that of their leaders. Often, they don’t even know what’s expected of them!

You need to remember this: People don’t wake up in the morning and think “I’m going to fail today”.

If something is going wrong, it’s our job as Leaders to get to the bottom of it and change it. Getting worked up won’t solve anything.

Another engaging goal setting tool we use with employees is an NLP technique called ‘Keys to achievable outcomes’.

NLP is so powerful. That’s why we include it in all of our bespoke leadership training programmes. To find out more about NLP, you can read our article on what is NLP here.

team working together and being productive

Ask them about their motivation

Finally, if you believe they’re disengaged, ask!

Ask them how motivated they are out of 10, and what holds it back from being a 10.

If you care and ask them this with sincerity, they WILL give you the answers. Then you can start to get the best out of them.

If you would like to find out more about how to address behaviour changes and improve performance feel free to email me at natalie@podhr.co.uk. We’re performance improvement specialists, and we do it by accessing employee values and beliefs. We specialise in change work and getting the absolute best out of people, so we’re always happy to guide or provide coaching and training.

You can find out more about how NLP can help companies by looking at our learning centre here.

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