The Art of People Business – The Misguided Worker Mentality (Part Three)

Today marks the last installment of “The Misguided Worker Mentality”. I’ll discuss the last misguided worker category, address issues that can arise in dealing with each of the five types of workers, and offer up possible solutions for handling the problematic situations that may arise. And so, I’m going to get right into the meat of the matter and introduce you to misguided worker #5.

The “No Sense of Urgency” Worker

This type of worker mentality can’t be hurried or rushed. It’s not too concerned with hitting deadlines, being punctual, responding to emergencies, or competing against the clock in any sort of racing or time-driven situation. The individual I’m describing here seems to exist in an alternate world, where he or she is told that you can tend to matters when you feel good and ready to.

And, what happens if such a worker never feels like getting to the matter at hand? Well, I would guess that the effect of such a cause would result in starting on tasks but possibly never finishing them. Or maybe, tasks are drawn out so long that they end up being picked up by someone who will actually get them done in a timely manner. Sounds like this person could be the first cousin to “The Won’t-Pull-Your-Own-Weight” Worker.

Individuals who function in this somewhat of a lackadaisical funk can be difficult to reconcile in the mind of those who live in the real world. Why? Ummm . . . let me see. Could it be that everyone (and I do mean EVERYONE) has demands put on them to perform tasks within in certain time frame at some point in their lives? Little children included?

Just ask my nine-year-old if his teacher in fourth grade allows him to create his own work schedule and do his own thing (in his own time) during the course of a school day. No sir. No ma’am. He has to fall in line just like every other child and adult at his school and perform his duties with a sense of urgency. Let’s call it meeting expectations. And if he chooses to dance to the beat of his own drum in this setting, guess what? There will be consequences to pay and some of those consequences will spill over to me and my husband. NOTE: the neglect of one falls into the laps of others.

Time is not of the essence with these folks. So, I guarantee you wouldn’t want someone with this mentality to assume any positions in such fields as the medical, law enforcement, fire and safety, transportation, and military, for example. And, I’d certainly be hesitant in asking this worker to babysit my child, house and pet sit (if I had any pets) while I go out of town, and work as my Virtual Assistant at Degrees of Maternity. I’m just saying.

Now, on to some of the problematic situations that misguided workers bring about.

Problems

You have to understand that individuals, who have little regard for how their actions affect others, always create some kind of chaos that the “others” end up facing or having to account for in some way. In the following list, I’ll give you three difficult situations that can result when working with each of the five types of misguided worker.

  • The Entitled Worker – work doesn’t get done by this individual; this person’s work may have to be completed by someone else; there may be delays in meeting expectations, deadlines, and the overall intended goal because work is shifted to another person’s shoulders.
  • The Credit-Stealing Worker – work doesn’t get done by this individual; this person’s so-called “work” was done by someone else; recognition for a “job well done” is given to an undeserving party.
  • The Won’t-Pull-Your-Own-Weight Worker – work doesn’t get done by this individual; this person’s work may have to be completed by someone else; someone refusing to do his/her part can result in an entire group of people being negatively and unfairly punished because one worker didn’t come through.
  • The Naive Worker – work doesn’t get done by this individual; this person may just quit and bail out on the work altogether (and someone else will have to pick up the pieces no matter how messy they are); this worker may perform work unsatisfactorily that can negatively misrepresent an entire entity (it’s important to have the right people for the job).
  • The “No Sense of Urgency” Worker – work doesn’t get done by this individual; this person’s work may have to be completed by someone else who can hit the deadline; someone refusing to do his/her part can result in an entire group of people being negatively and unfairly punished because one worker didn’t come through.

I don’t want to belabor the point, but are you seeing a pattern here? I am. I can sum it all up by highlighting the obvious fact that misguided workers create unfavorable situations for those they have working relationships with. And for individuals who have a desire to function in the real world, the fallout from the unproductive nature of the misguided can lead to additional work for the productive worker. Is this fair? NO! Does the work (no matter who does it) still need to get done? YES! So, what’s the solution to this conundrum?

Problems and Solutions

Solutions

Well, I’m afraid that there are no simple answers here. Someone might quickly state the obvious: don’t do the misguided worker’s work for him or her. Sounds commonsensical, I know. But again, the answer is more complex than that, because work still has to get done even if the misguided worker isn’t the one doing it. So, what do you do? Here are some suggestions:

  • If you can do so without reaping negative repercussions, put the onus back on the misguided worker to do his or her own work and refuse to do it. (Ideally, this would be the way to go every time; but, we’re living in the real world, aren’t we?)
  • Evaluate your work behaviors and take ownership of the work assigned to you. Never rely on others to take on your responsibilities, unless you’re in a position where you’re unable to. You may not be able to control what others do, but you can control what you do.
  • Document the work that you do somewhere. This habit is an excellent one to adopt for any personal or professional work-related setting. For instance, at the professional workplace, it’s just good practice to note (on paper, on your computer, or some other safe place) the noteworthy tasks you’ve completed and accomplishments you’ve achieved, because such documentation will come in handy when you’re required to complete your performance review at the end of the year. And, it will be especially helpful if you ever have to prove that you were the one who completed certain tasks and not the credit-stealer.
  • Uphold a stellar work ethic always. Believe me; it won’t go unrecognized. Let the pride you take in doing your work speak volumes for your character. It will be very difficult for you to be pinpointed as a slacker or someone who’s not carrying his or her own weight. And when work disconnects happen, you’ll be far from someone’s mind when considering workplace offenders.
  • Let your supervisor, manager, or leader know what’s going on when you have working relationships with misguided workers that are negatively affecting your progress in GETTING THINGS DONE. Don’t wait until a situation escalates before you make the higher-ups aware that a problem is brewing.
  • Make sure that you engage in cross-training opportunities that will assist you in learning other skills sets from other jobs in case you ever have to fill in. It’s never a pleasant situation when you’re required to complete work that you’re not equipped to handle. Arm yourself with knowledge. Aim for proactive and not reactive.
  • Add your own solutions to the mix, because I clearly don’t have all the answers. If you have some suggestions that haven’t been mentioned above, I’d love to hear them. So please, do share.

Conclusion

I know some of these solutions don’t appear to favor the hard worker. A lot of times the do-gooder gets dumped on. I do admit that and I’ve personally experienced this ironic occurrence in different settings. However, I always keep the mindset that good opportunities tend to find good people who uphold their integrity, morals, and strong work ethic even in the face of adversity. In the long-run, it will never be to your advantage to turn to the “dark” side. Eventually, the misguided worker will get his or her fair due (in some shape or form). Mark my words on that one. Dirty catches up with everyone eventually, and you don’t want to be caught up in that big ball of messiness. So, stay true to what you know is right to do. LEAD BY EXAMPLE AND BE THAT GUIDED WORKER THAT CAN DIRECT OTHERS ON A POSITIVE WORK-RELATED PATH.

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