#Working Wisdom #Human Resources #Employer

How to Deal with a Procrastinating Employee

Mohamad Danial bin Ab. Khalil
by Mohamad Danial bin Ab. Khalil
Aug 30, 2020 at 3:37 PM

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"I'll do it later..."

These are the words of a chronic procrastinator. It isn't easy to get procrastinating employees to return to work. Procrastination has been around forever. It is contagious, and if you're not careful, you might find yourself in a whole lot of trouble that came out of nowhere, and suddenly became extremely hard to get rid of. 


How to manage a procrastinating employee

The best way is to lure the procrastinating employee into actually doing the work. Luring them does sound hard, but these tips are straightforward to implement. Let's start with: 


Finding out the cause of procrastination

Most people don't procrastinate without reason. Most employees have a cause for doing it, and they do feel bad for letting their supervisor down.

When you notice any concrete signs of procrastination is to get into an honest, non-aggressive talk with the procrastinating employee and try to find out the reason behind it. 

Get straight to the point and say something like "Why do you spend a lot of time on non-work related activities every day? Is there something wrong?" It might be a personal issue, work-related issue, or fear of getting something done wrong, or anything similar that you can help sort out. A simple chat can accomplish a lot. 

woman looking at a laptop
Procrastination can slowly turn you into an unproductive zombie. 

Hold the employee accountable.

The main reason why procrastinating employees get away with it is that they aren't held accountable for their work. There's always someone responsible for the employee, and nobody goes into details such as why some deadlines were overdue. 

You need to develop an approach that will hold each person responsible for their work. When something goes wrong, it won't be just your problem, but also theirs as well. This is an excellent way to make procrastinators get their job done, without putting more pressure on other team members. 


"Cheat" deadlines.

There is a great deal of wasted time between starting a task and the actual deadline. In other words, procrastinators tend to postpone their work until there is little to no time left before the deadline, and then get down to doing it. 

Since that's their point of view, a straightforward solution is to have a fake deadline, which is set before the real deadline. This way, you can cheat procrastinators into actually finishing their job on time, without them knowing about it. 


Get involved in tasks personally.

A supervisor can always get personally involved in tasks that they know procrastinating employees are working on. Having their manager around at all times is an excellent reason to stop thinking about procrastinating and focus on working. 

If the supervisor is a good team leader, they will be able to engage and motivate those people and hopefully, get them eager to do their work, instead of trying to find ways to postpone it as much as they can. 

Note that the supervisor must be able to show a strong personality, which will non-verbally communicate authority to people around you with his tactic, or it will not work. 

woman using loudspeaker laptop
There's no point berating a procrastinating employee.

What you should NOT do when dealing with a procrastinating employee

  1. Having a strict deadline: When you put large amounts of pressure on procrastinators, they'll find even more reasons to delay their work. 

  2. Logical reasoning: Logic won't do much. There's no point trying to reason with a procrastinator. They'll listen calmly, and continue finding reasons to delay their work and start working when the deadline is near.

  3. Malicious and forceful behaviour: Don't try to show who's superior to a procrastinator, it will have the same effect as a strict deadline. 


Workplace procrastination is, has and will always be there for as long as we exist. However, there are ways to tackle the issue as a supervisor. These tactics are effortless to execute and will work effectively if you're starting to fight procrastination. 

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