• Is it just me or are there people out there who have mastered the art of getting out of work? Somehow, they’re able to pawn things off on everyone else causing others’ workload to increase, while they sit back and enjoy the ride. I’ve always hated having to deal with them at work so you can only imagine my disappointment when I discovered that one of my own children had developed this very same attribute. I kept asking myself, ‘Where did I go wrong?’

    I always had suspicions that my twelve year-old daughter was a prima-donna and somewhat lazy with a sense of entitlement. But I’d always hoped that she would eventually grow out of it. Especially, having role models that are quite the opposite. Well, she hasn’t yet. She never offers to help out in the kitchen, clean up after a meal and always has an excuse to get out of there in a hurry. Whether it’s homework, emotions, etc. We’d give her the benefit of the doubt, which generally meant that she just got away with it.

    It all came to a head this past weekend when we decided to have a “painting party” at our house to jazz up the children’s rooms. This included her room as well.  I checked her schedule to make sure she was available. Our three other children, one of whom is older than her, were excited to help and dressed up in their painting clothes. everyone except for her, that is. She was a total downer and tried every excuse to get out of it. Then, once I held her to it, she purposefully sabotaged every job we gave her, making our lives much more difficult. When asked to help paint the window sills, she “accidentally” cracked one of the windows.  Though it appeared to have been done on purpose. She said her paint brush slipped and didn’t want to do it anymore because her hands were tired. That was after less than five minutes on the job. So, I gave her another task to chip old paint and she made a deep gash in the wall, which was wide and difficult to fill. Once again, it appeared intentional and she said she couldn’t do that job anymore either. We tried several other jobs, like sanding, etcetera and she kept sabotaging them all. Then she asked if she could leave. All this after thirty minutes of one disaster after another. I told her absolutely not and assigned to sweeping up the debris. She was resistant to that as well because she said it wasn’t fun. I explained to her that not all work was fun but that it had to get done. I told her that she was not getting out of it and held her to it because every other task became problematic. She figured that if she messed up enough that would guarantee that I wouldn’t ask her to help. Not only did we have more work to cover because of her lack of effort, but now we also had to repair all that she had destroyed. Believe me, I was thinking that it would be less work for me to just get her out of there but that was not going to happen. She was hoping that I would give up and have the rest of the family continue to work without her. But, she obviously had the wrong mom in mind!

    I was determined to correct her behavior. I kept having visions of her being the lazy slacker in the workplace, which fueled my motivation even more. I was not going to pawn her laziness off on anyone else. I strongly believe that everyone can contribute in some way, regardless of their limitation. Especially since her younger siblings, ages eight and ten, were in there helping out. I was relentless and determined to get her to contribute and be held accountable. I did not let her off the hook of cleaning up and kept giving her more things to clean. A boring task but I figured it would be therapeutic for her attitude. After doing it for a half an hour or so, she realized that I wasn’t going to let her slide. She begged for a different job, one that she liked and asked if she could paint again. I told her that painting required more responsibility and that she would have to earn it. She realized that I was on to her game and that she would not get out of doing work by messing up. She appeared to learn her lesson (at least for this time) and I allowed her to resume painting. She was definitely more positive and knew that she’d end up with the grunt work if she had a bad attitude. Either way, she wasn’t getting out of it.

    This same remedy would probably work just as well at your workplace. Unfortunately, we don’t always have the ability or time to hold slackers accountable, though supervisors should. Slackers often get out of completing tasks, which reinforces their negative behavior, increases the workload for others and lowers moral. Therefore, it’s worth taking the time, though it may slow productivity at first, to address these slackers so they don’t mistake your kindness for incompetence. It will improve your productivity in the long run and deter others from trying it. Plus, it demonstratesto your hard workers that you’ve got their back!