Handle shirking while the boss is away

We are a small company with under 10 employees. When myself or another VP is out of the office, many of the employees gather around an talk. Basically, goof off. I know this because when one person has work to do and I return to the office, they tend to communicate things like "welcome to the party" or "welcome to the zoo".

What are some best practices to make sure people are working when "the cats away"? They all have work to do, it is that they are choosing not to do it. Is it a case of just finding better employees?


  • 5 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • Better employees may be the answer and they are not hard to find in this economy.

     But before you give up on the employees you have, two things come to mind - performance goals and an enforcer. Set deadlines for work projects so that work must be done while the "cats" are away, make deadlines part of performance goals, if goals are not met, follow through with poor performance documentation and diminished increases or other forms of discipline, up to discharge.

    Second, either hire or designate an official "party pooper" -- someone who trolls the hallways and hands out assignments to employees who appear to have too much free time. The person must be someone with authority to assign work who does not mind playing the heavy. People will get the idea and when coupled with the performance eval piece, this technique can be very effective. This is not ideal, but it works. Note - there will always be the odd employee who is persistent in trying to "get away with it" -- this is the employee who should go.

  • Don't take this the wrong way, but it could be a case of needing better management!  The rule of delegation is to check back.  Have you considered walking in occasionally and rolling up your sleeves to meet with each person so you can find out where they are on their assigned tasks?  Are they getting all their work done even though they spend a lot of time horsing around?  If so, maybe it's time to look at your labor metrics.  Do you have too many people for the work load or perhaps working some of you staff more hours than necessary to complete assigned tasks?

    Alternatively, perhaps you need to bump someone up into a supervisory role since the work requirements of the officers prevent them from being able to directly manage the rest of the staff.

  • Hey, what are the employees talking about when the cats are away?  Do you have a morale problem as well as a management problem?

    You know, these employees can be goofing off even when "the cats" are in the office (online games, social networks, online shopping), so you probably need the management oversight and review the others are describing.

    Have you thought of holding an all-company meeting and addressing the issue, but with a positive spin--"look, the economy is bad so we'd all better pull together and work harder to help our business." Maybe have some team-building exercises--and refreshments.

  • The talking is just general goofing around. Some of the positions in the company do entail some downtime, but I believe there are better ways for good employees to handle the downtime. We block many of the websites that have been mentioned and monitor Internet use, so, the goofing around is minimized in that manner.

    I wonder if people would be open to changing from 40 hours to 30 hours. That may be a good solution. 

    I am against micro-managing but it looks like it may be needed to get people inline. I do like the suggestion of promoting someone into a supervisory roleand that may help the issue.

  • [quote user="dsi1"] I am against micro-managing but it looks like it may be needed to get people inline. I do like the suggestion of promoting someone into a supervisory roleand that may help the issue.[/quote]

    Supervision and micromanagement are not synonyms.  Most people just don't work well if there is zero accountability.  Personally, I like to focus on problem solving and efficiency and not make accountability a big issue, but by pressing the soft buttons (like ensuring supervision), I don't have to institute accountability heck.

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