A college buddy and fraternity brother of mine used to be a Commander in the Navy. When he wasn’t flying airplanes he was put in charge of a maintenance group that dealt with corrosion control aboard a ship. He managed a number of people and it was important that each of them worked together to complete their work because their jobs were essential to keeping the boat in good condition.
One guy he managed just didn’t get it. He was lazy, irresponsible and always trying to find a way to get out of doing his job. My friend would often catch this guy trying to sneak off the ship when it was in port, even though he was on a restricted list because of duties unfulfilled. Basically, this guy was becoming a huge waste of time.
It’s been said that 5% of people will take up 95% of your time. Those people that make up the 5% really hold a team down. Imagine how much more productive a team could be without the guy that misses deadlines, doesn’t double check his work and gives minimum effort!
So, how do you solve for having an unproductive team member? Discipline. Work with someone to make them feel personally accountable for each thing they do and make the consequences for slacking off well known. Don’t let the little things slide because everything is important.
That’s exactly what my buddy did when he was in the Navy. He took the troubled guy aside and taught him the importance of his work, which created a more productive environment for his entire team. After this, as a manager he was able to pay attention to daily tasks at hand rather than an individual that didn’t care about his work.
Corralling this guy wasn’t necessarily as easy as I just made things sound. When you have someone that’s causing a headache for you as manager, one conversation with them doesn’t change their behavior overnight. Just as you’re hoping that they’ll be disciplined, you must be consistent in your messaging to them. Take the time necessary in the short-term to help this person understand what’s expected of them, so that in the long-term your entire team will benefit.
Here are some other quick tips we should keep in mind when managing our teams:
What kind of experiences have you had with someone that was not disciplined?