I’ve always valued hard work and usually resented lazy workers.
I started working when I was 12 years old in a grocery store. I worked hard, gained the recognition of my managers, and was rewarded with all the hours I wanted to work. The store was a revolving door of workers it seemed. I worked with some guys who didn’t last long, because they really didn’t want to work. They wanted to sneak into the break room and have a coke or take an extraordinary amount of time taking the trash out each night.
Please understand, I’m not talking about people who protect their family time (I do that) or people who work smart so they can enjoy life. (I do that too.) I’m talking about people who are lazy. People who don’t want to work. They want a paycheck, but they don’t really want to earn their pay. They want it given to them. (I told you I’ve usually resented people like this. Can you tell? )
If you are in a equal position to a lazy person, and not their leader, it is frustrating. You feel taken advantage of because of your hard work.
Recently I was stopped at a conference and asked if I saw this on church staffs. He is in a large church where most of the staff work extremely hard, but a few barely get their work done. They are, in his opinion, lazy. He wanted to know if this was unusual. Of course, I assured this frustrated person. Wherever you find people you’ll encounter problems with people. Churches are places where people work, so some of the same problems that exist outside the church exist inside the church.
His real question, however, was “What should he do?”
Here are 7 ways to treat lazy people:
Make sure it’s not a perception problem – Make sure you aren’t confusing a different work style with laziness. Make sure you aren’t lumping your overachiever mindset on them. People approach work differently. That’s not always laziness. It could be they’ve found a way to work smarter and more efficiently. Look at the person’s performance based on results, not based on style.
Model hard work for them – This is your best offense. Some lazy people are encouraged by watching what they should be doing. Some will adapt to the environment if the environment is working hard. Certainly though, over time the lazy worker will be exposed. Then it is up to leadership to address the issue. (I know the question here…what happens if they don’t? But, that would be the subject of another post. This was is about co-workers.)
Pray for them to step up or leave – That sounds harsh, but if they are impacting your morale they are most likely impacting it for others. They are damaging the credibility and momentum of the organization for the rest of the team. Laziness is a sin. They need a heart change more than anything.
Don’t let them take advantage of you – You only enable them if you cover for them or do the work they were assigned to do. Lazy people seem to seek those out who will pick up their slack.
Challenge when necessary – If it’s clear a person is lazy and taking advantage of the situation, there comes a time when it’s right to challenge them. You should do so in love, but use the Matthew 18 approach; going to them first, then bringing along another if it continues; working through the chain of command. It’s better to challenge lovingly than to let the resentment in your heart destroy your witness as you develop bitterness towards the other person.
Make sure it’s not personal to you or the organization – Could laziness be the result of something else? Could they be reacting to issues within their own life, or with a vision disagreement? That doesn’t mean they should stay or go, but it should impact the way you respond.
Help them with specific tasks – Sometimes you can help a lazy person, even if they don’t report to you, by helping them find things to do. Lazy people typically aren’t looking. If there is work to do they can do, ask them to help you or to assume responsibility for it.
Have you ever worked with a lazy person? What did you do?