Spotting incompetence is simple. Look for the people who know full well what they need to change about themselves to be more productive but refuse to do so.
We all have flaws and areas in need of improvement. That’s normal and healthy. Moreover, sometimes these weaknesses remain for a time in our blind spots.
But the moment an employee’s awareness has been raised, he has an obligation to begin remedying the flaw, not celebrating it. Those who do single themselves out as such are incompetent.
A few examples of incompetence
You know the ones. Here are some unbelievable but true examples:
1. “Yeah, I know I need to organize my files, but that’s just how I am. Always been this way. You should see my clothes closet at home!”
Gee, now there’s an advertisement to broadcast!
When employees telegraph their areas of improvement, almost as if to brag about their inefficient habits, that’s when you know you’re dealing with an unproductive person. Handle them with kid gloves and don’t give them anything important to work on.
2. “My style is to put things off until the last minute; when I procrastinate, the adrenaline rush helps me work better. I’m actually better under pressure.”
This is not impressive. It’s laziness. Laziness can spread through a company’s culture like kudzu.
Managers who want to maintain a productive team must kill laziness at the root.
How? By making public examples of poor behavior. Not in an angry tone, not in a derisive tone, but in a humorous tone marked by razor sharp insight.
Nothing will zap a company’s ability to cultivate an efficient workforce as fast as a chain reaction of laziness. It spreads and sprawls at blinding speed.
Why? Well, because it sets a new standard of what is tolerable — a lower standard.
Laziness is antithetical to productivity, and it’s contagious. Yank up the lazy ones by the root lest they spread.
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People work long hours because they choose to
3. “I spend so much time at the office that I should just sleep and shower here.”
When you hear colleagues whining and complaining about the grueling and grinding hours they work, you are witnessing incompetence.
Whining about long hours is code for “has no life.”
Here’s the dirty truth: the reason most people work long hours is because they choose to.
Why? Well, who knows? Maybe they lack friends, or hobbies, or any semblance of how weak and impotent their endless protestations sound. Put another way, they are purposefully failing at “work/life balance.” They ramp up the former because they don’t have the latter.
Those who launch off on endless diatribes about how many hours they’re logging or how many extra weekends they’re working are often seeking attention. They sacrifice productivity on the altar of sympathy.
They think doing so makes them sound like hard workers. It doesn’t. It makes them sound weak and impish.
This was originally published on Laura Stack’s The Productivity Pro blog.