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What to do about an unmotivated employee

Employees who "mail it in" are complexifiers of a contractor's business challenges


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February 8, 2019 by Robert Koci

I have a friend who knows he is a bad employee. He puts in his hours but his heart is not in it. Why does he stay? He needs the money and, he admits, he can’t get the same amount elsewhere.

Don’t get me wrong. He is not a “BAD” bad employee. He’s not stealing from the company. He’s not ignoring his responsibilities. He just knows he is not properly positioned where his talents can be brought forward and used productively. He’s felt badly enough about it that he has gone to his superior and suggested alternatives but they have all been rejected. So he is stuck, running at about 60 per cent efficiency, dreading every day but doing the best he can.

An employee like that is easy to “not see.” You may have dozens of employees and usually it’s only outright incompetence, dishonesty or laziness that really forces you to act. In the middle of the maelstrom that is owning a construction company, the unmotivated employee is just another not-yet-urgent, back-burner issue you may not have time for.

But consider this man for a moment. He’s basically a good person who would prefer to wake up highly motivated to do a job he is better designed to do. And you have the opportunity to make that happen.

Is it worth it for you to pay attention? Well, there might be 50 per cent more that you could get from the $60,000 a year he costs you. For a couple of hours of discussion and a bit of reorganization, maybe you could capture that now wasted $30,000. And don’t forget, that’s $30,000 per year, compounded year by year. That’s a lot of value over time.

Listen, the guy is hurting, and he’s hurting you. You’re hurting because unproductive money is going out the window. Have the talk. Find him a better place. He’s willing to compromise so as not to hurt you. You should do the same.


Robert Koci

Robert Koci

Rob Koci is the publisher of Canadian Contractor magazine. rkoci@canadiancontractor.ca Tel. 647-407-0754
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