Employees Who Don’t Want to Improve. What’s To Be Done?


What To Do With Employees Who Don’t Want to Improve?

We all know people who can do more than what they’re currently doing, or who can do it better, but won’t. As much as we would love to have these people reach their full potential, the truth is that there’s very little we can do about it. They are resistant to getting out of their self-defeating routine.

My Personal Experience:

Before working with Kleer-Fax, I was a marine on active duty. One night, alongside my fellow lance corporal (E-3), while studying Arabic in preparation for our deployment to Iraq, he said to me, “I don’t think it’s worth it to get promoted to Corporal.”

He had weighed out the additional work and compared it to the less-than-exceptional extra $100 per month he’d get (if promoted), and figured it would be easier to stick to his rank. I, on the other hand, was married with a family. Aside from needing every dollar I could get, I was also seeking the extra responsibility to grow as a leader.

Many people would agree with his sentiment; they would gladly take the pay raise, so long as nothing else was required of them.

But What To Do With Sluggish Attitudes?

I posed the question, ‘what to do with employees who refuse to improve?’ but did not answer it. The answer is that it all depends on the environmental pressure and circumstances that the unmotivated individual finds his or herself dealing with.

There are times when employees experience a sudden jolt of inspiration and feel compelled to improve their creative, critical and progressive thinking & actionable skills. But that miraculous desire to improve is hard to come by. More pressingly, you may let them know that their current rate of productivity is putting themselves in a “do-or-die” situation: they can either update their skills or seek employment elsewhere. While this may sound harsh, the truth is that it’s unfair to pay employees who refuse to do the work that’s required of them.

It is important to understand that we cannot force people into the image we hold for them, be it our employees, our children, and even, sometimes, ourselves. The major hurdle, it seems, can be our own ideas of what other people should be. In this regard, I think Anais Nin puts it best: “We do not see things as they are. We see things as we are.”

Leave the Opportunity Open When Possible

Newfound motivation requires the firing of neurons that may not have been used in a while, which can be mentally and physically exhausting. The potential reward has to be large enough (larger than the potential price that will be paid) in order to embrace the concept of getting better. You, the employer, can provide your employees with that larger reward, whether it’s in the form of tuition reimbursement for relevant training, a mentor/protégé program, or even a recommended reading list.

Christopher Pascale works for Kleer-Fax, Inc., an American Manufacturer

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