Slacker Talent: Your Recipe for Disaster

Loser Sign

The number of employees that are highly disengaged has doubled since the beginning of 2008.

It’s tough enough to make it out of an economic downturn, but companies and leaders now also have to deal with the legacy of the talent they hired during a boom that came before that downturn.

Remember the good times? The good times we enjoy in our economy aren’t always great for recruitment. For hiring the right person in the right job, the good times seemed to cover over poor recruiting just to “put cheeks in seats.”

You have a very small pool to swim in and sometimes you unwittingly hire slacker talent.

So What To Do?

On Managing Performance in an Uncertain EconomyThe Corporate Leadership Council is making research available to its members on topics of great interest. The legacy of the boom coupled with the downturn is a recipe for disaster.

This one caught my eye:

“How do we keep high performance, manage out low performers, and improve productivity of the broader workforce?”

Yes I guess I did say it out loud. Slackers. Lazy people. Ill-fitting talent.

All I see clearly is this: You have the wrong person holding court in a job that perhaps is getting very little or no results but sucking the energy out of you and your team.

Like Ill-Fitting Shoes

Final SaleIt’s perhaps haunting your performance reviews much like the running shoes you bought that never really fit because they were available and on sale.

They just stare back at you with the new tags still hanging off… only worse because the tags are really faded and worn now.

So you can’t take them back anymore. And they are keeping you from running.

Even worse, they had the red tag – the FINAL SALE.

A Better Way to Win

Thankfully in our talent decisions, we don’t have to have a final sale that we are stuck with. It‘s time to get out while you can. And you can. Don’t wait.

Like Nike says – Just do it!

The cost of a bad hire is astronomical. Some experts in recruitment have estimated $15,000. I think that is a drop-in-the-bucket. Many studys say the cost is as high as 2 1/2 times a person’s salary.

What about the cost to the team and all that driving time when you should be listening to your favourite music is fraught with what can I do to make this work. Slackers are playing on your radio. You have dead-weight dragging your good and great performance down into the mud…. and it has been going on for perhaps way too long.

Justifying Your Past

Don’t be too hard on yourself. After all, recruiting and hiring during a time when the talent was downright dismal was, in fact, downright dismal.

You might be thinking, “We did the best we could with what we had.” “We did all the right things:

  • Spent more time trying to manage poor performance…
  • Invested time trying to ‘coach, manage, develop competency’…
  • Thought about it in the car ride home…
  • Discussed it…
  • Mentioned it at lunch…

But Let’s Get Real

Guess what? You didn’t do the right things at all. They didn’t fit the first time. They never did. It’s time to clean that shoe closet. The impact of low, no, or negative performance from these ill-fitting team members can’t be ignored any more.

So now that the downturn will likely be another upswing at some point (…my guess is very soon), always remember the tough lessons.

At the very worst, keep the position empty as a vacancy causing no performance is better than negative performance and cost associated with the wrong shoe rotting in the closet.

Lesson In Shoes

Never buy something that doesn’t fit or sort of fits – even it looks like a bargain. Its true with retail running shoes and in recruitment.  Two great tips. I hope they fit.

Have you ever hired the wrong fit?  What happened?  What did you do about it?  What did you wish you did about it? What are the key issues facing your talent and performance? What would you like to see happening on your team that isn’t? What can you do as a leader to prevent slacker talent from infiltrating? I would love to hear your thoughts!

Delana McKinsley Zarokostas
is VP Housing & Dev at Related Group of Companies
She serves her clients in building organizational development and effectiveness

Email | LinkedIn | Facebook | Skype: delana1973 | (403) 472 – 7779

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L2L Contributing Author