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Why Subordinates Procrastinate
By Michael C. Dennis, MBA, CBF

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Knowing why your employees procrastinate will help you as a manager to address and possibly to prevent this serious problem. Your subordinates procrastinate for a variety of reasons including these:

  • The task is seen as unpleasant

  • Your subordinate feels the assignment is overwhelming or unfair

  • They feels the assignment is unnecessary

  • They fear making a mistake

  • Your employee feels your expectations of them are unreasonable and/or unrealistic

  • Your employee believes that they have not been properly trained

  • They don't want the responsibility for making a mistake

  • It task is not part of their normal job duties - therefore there is no up side to completing the assignment, only a down-side for failing do so

  • Your subordinates delays beginning or completing the assignment as a challenge to your authority

  • They refuse to do the work as a form of protest or disrespect against you being in charge in general, and giving them instructions in particular

  • The employee[s] in question believe that union rules protect them from having to perform this type of work

  • They don't feel part of a team, so they have little or no interest in helping the team to achieve its goals

  • They are interested in sabotaging you in the eyes of your manager by doing so bad a job on an assignment delegated to them that senior management will have to notice.

There are no simple answers to problems such as these. One of the simplest answers to those problems is to make sure that consequences fall on the parties involved in the unexpected and unacceptable behavior. Occasionally, it takes terminating one bad apple [preferably the ring leader] to bring the rest of the department back in line. Occasionally, you have to be less discriminating. If essentially everyone in the department is placing roadblocks to your department's success, then at least in theory everyone must be considered expendable.

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