Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Beware the Sloth

Beware the sloth. What kind of sloth am I referencing here?

Sloth is a metaphor I use to describe the chronically lazy.

There is lazy and then there is sloth lazy. I'm sure you've heard about it before. Or have you?

Sloths kind of pop up everywhere in American culture. Most would deny they are sloths or have sloth-like tendencies but sloth is a problem that plagues every company and every family at some point down the road. I'm going to share some insights on this that I hope will be both entertaining and enlightening.

Can you imagine a person who literally moves state to state and church to church just to be able to maintain a work free existence, solely living off of the hospitality and goodwill of others? This kind of abuse of very giving people is where this ingenious metaphor was birthed.

Of course we can't just go around calling lazy people lazy can we? What does that make us look like: some kind of self-righteous judge? On the other hand, we simply cannot allow our bank accounts, our friends' or family's bank accounts, our churches, or even our companies get suckered into a sob story that actually is just that...."a story". No company should ever retain a non-producing employee. It defeats the very concept of business: to generate profit.

There are the truly needy in our society. We have one of the most generous social service and welfare systems in the world to assist them. We have thousands of homeless shelters and even more churches who spend almost every waking and sleeping moment helping the needy.

The truly needy are not sloths. The sloth is the purposefully needy. They function much like a parasitic organism that truly has what we call "entitlement fever". They see the belongings of others as their own. They feel they should be cared for. They truly are the fruit of a generation who believes they should "have it now" without having worked or earning it.

Being the optimist that I am, I believe they can be deprogrammed and reprogrammed with a new life purpose. However, it is impossible for this to happen when absolutely everyone is always paying all of their bills for them: rent, clothing, food, transportation, medical, etc. Why would anyone be motivated to work and move to self-independence when they have spent years being cared for by others much like a helpless infant?

I'd like to introduce you to the concept of STOP. LOOK, and LEAVE.  If you have a family member or close friend who stopped working, stopped looking for work, and exists solely upon the charity of others even though they are able bodied you need to stop. Stop helping them. Stop buying their stories. Stop bankrolling them. As long as you pay for them, YOU are part of the problem. It is like giving drugs to an addict. As long as you provide what they need, they have no motivation to change.

Look. Look at the situation realistically. You've been helping them for a long time. How long has it been: a year? Two years? MULTIPLE YEARS? If you are helping them, I bet you a hundred dollar bill they are playing the same con game with someone else. These individuals are MASTER MANIPULATORS. Look closely at the situation and evaluate the facts, not just your emotional response to the "concept" of a needy person.

Leave. Leave the situation and go your way. If all the sloth enablers simply stopped supporting lazy, nonworking, and entitlement attitudes, the situation can more quickly be remedied.


Is it possible to have a sloth on your company payroll? Sure it is. Employees in any kind of company should be asked to fill out a monthly progress report in which they estimate how much time they spent on each given aspect of their job. For example, in a recent client session, I asked "Henry" to tell me his responsibilities at his last job. His reply was that he managed. OK. What exactly had he managed? I asked again. His reply: "stuff". That told me next to nothing. I then created a check list in which he was to estimate how he spent his work time daily: how many minutes or hours on phone calls, email correspondence, data processing or data updating, in meetings, planning, sales, and so on. In our next session, he returned the form to me blank. When I asked why he hadn't filled it out, he answered simply and said he really couldn't say what he had done. How can a man who can't even tell me what he did at his last job be trained to speak intelligently and fluently about his passions, his job responsibilities, and so forth? It was like trying to find a needle in a haystack. I didn't know how to coach him. So I ventured into unknown waters. That is where I discovered what I have hence called the "company sloth".

A company sloth looks busy if you happen to glance his or her way. But in an atmosphere that lacks accountability, this is the person most likely to be taking long leisurely breaks, getting to work late, leaving early, and the most unresponsive when things are asked of him or her. These kind of employees cost a company a lot of money. In this recent decade of massive layoffs due to the economy, they were also the first to be canned.

We all have a lazy bone somewhere in our body. It usually comes out when we are at home during our leisure time. But for those who are leisure addicted, this quickly can evolve into a non-work attitude. And that is when it becomes a very deeply rooted problem that can eventually lead a person down a very slippery career slope. This great nation was built upon the back of workers, not slackers.

I'm sure you know one rather professionally or personally. Stop. Look. Leave. Don't enable.

Do you have a sloth you really would like some help with? I have actually developed an ideal method of dealing with them if you would like some assistance. Shoot me an email.