Business owners naturally want to hire self-motivated people. But if employees don’t actively seek out more work when they’re not busy, who’s to blame—them or you?
J.T. O’Donnell, a career consultant and founder of the site Careerealism, explained in a LinkedIn article how she knows a manager who recently considered firing an employee for not staying busy enough:
She went to an employee with a new task and the employee commented aloud, ‘Good. I've been looking for something to do. My work's been light lately.’ The manager was infuriated by this statement. She couldn't believe this was the first she was hearing about the employee's lack of work to do.
Most commenters on O’Donnell’s article question the manager’s judgment and attitude toward the employee. Some felt the manager was unfairly misinterpreting the employee’s admission as lazy when the employee was actually showing enthusiasm and initiative by revealing her happiness to take on more work.
“I think the manager is jumping to conclusions, and the wrong conclusions at that,” one commenter wrote. “The employee expressed willingness to take on more work and gladness to get it, so the manager, instead of saying ‘from now on, if you're light, come to me’ … micromanages and thinks of terminating. To me, the manager is having much too much fun being frustrated and draconian.”
A few commenters took the manager’s side, saying that employees are getting paid to stay busy and work hard. It’s a sign of laziness if they’re not.
For business owners, the case brings up some interesting questions: For one, how do you ensure your employees are motivated, have enough work and, in general, are fulfilling your expectations?
Bryan Zaslow, a serial entrepreneur in New York, recently offered 37 tips for keeping employees motivated in a Forbes article. Among his tips: Set clear expectations, manage each employee individually, keep the workplace fun and interesting, promote a competitive spirit, and talk with your employees every day.
“Carving out some time each day to listen to anything from concerns to ideas will not only make your employees happy," Zaslow writes, "it will also provide you with much-needed insight on your business from the people who help keep it running.”
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