But what about…keeping people from slacking?

This may turn into a series of posts: “but what about…”. To start, I want to highlight a common question I get from managers in leadership and agile classes. Now it’s never the exact same wording but always the same general concept “but what about making sure people are not slacking?”

Despite how many times I hear this question, I’m always surprised and saddened each time.  I tend to ask a series of questions (in different order depending on when this question came up):

  • Do you create an environment where people understand the purpose of their work?
  • Do you create an environment where people experience mastery and autonmony?
  • Do you hire talented qualified people?
  • Do you consider their work to be knowledge work?
  • Do you ever need time to let your brain rest at work?  Do you ever get great ideas while driving/showering/running?
  • What could you be doing instead if you were not micromanaging every single hour of the day for others?

I struggle to understand how companies claim their people are the best and that they are the most valuable part of the company and then treat them like they are incapable of not taking advantage of the company.  That 20 minutes of solitaire – worth it…the person was able to consider a different perspective when trying to solve a defect.  That 20 minutes extra of chit-chat in the break-room just helped highlight a dependency impediment that everyone was unaware of.  I could go on and on.  Start valuing and accepting that knowledge workers are not cogs to be utilized 100% at all times.

What could you be focusing on instead?


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