52 Types of Difficult People / Deal with Difficult People

The Slacker: one of the 52 types of difficult people I’ve documented.

Hi, I’m Mark McPherson. Every week I post a blog about one of my 52 types of people who are poorly behaved and at times downright difficult. This week, it’s Type 1: The Slacker.

To download an annotated list of the 52 types, just click here.

#1. The Slacker.

The Slacker is someone who doesn’t do enough work.

Okay. Before we go any further, let’s be honest. Most of us have had days here and there, where at least someone could say we didn’t do enough work. Of course we have. We’re human. But we’re nothing like The Slacker.

The Slacker is a totally different kettle of fish. The Slacker doesn’t just have days here and there where they don’t to do enough work. They have lots of days like that. It’s their norm. And they’re know for it.

But there’s a twist. Just because The Slacker  doesn’t do enough work, doesn’t mean they’re rude or unfriendly. In fact, they’re usually just the opposite. They can even be loads of fun. The problem though is simple. And it’s this. They’re slack!

Two main ways The Slacker fails to do enough work.

One way the Slacker fails to do enough work is to simply not be around for enough hours. They can come to work late, take longer than they should for morning tea, meetings, low-priority jobs, jobs they shouldn’t even be doing, lunch and afternoon tea. And they can leave early.

The other is to be at work for the right amount of hours but simply not get the work done. Sometimes we can actually see them goofing off but sometimes we can’t. But in any case, when it comes to the crunch, they don’t come up with the goods.

And they don’t have any acceptable excuses.

Now when I say excuses, what I mean is this. First, if someone has been working incredibly hard for a few weeks to complete a report we really needed, we might ‘excuse them’ if they take it a bit easy – at least for a while anyway. In fact, we might even suggest they take it easy as a way of rewarding them.

And second, sometimes people just aren’t up to doing ‘enough work’ or doing work to the standard we expect. Perhaps they don’t have the knowledge and skills required. (Now there’s a great discussion for another time.) And people can get sick. And they can have bad things happen to them, or their family, which means they can just not be up to it. (And there’s another great discussion we can for another time: How much compassion and leniency is appropriate in different situations?)

But The Slacker doesn’t have any excuses like these. The Slacker doesn’t have any reason for being … well ….. so damn slack. Of course,  The Slacker can sometimes come out with excuses and plenty of them. And in many cases they’re no better than a school child telling us ‘the dog ate my homework’.

For example, let’s take someone I once worked with who didn’t do enough work because she came to work late on a regular basis. One day it’s the bus was late. The next, the alarm didn’t go off. The next, they locked themselves out. The next, a friend needed their help. The next, there were roadworks. The next, they wore high heels and they slowed them down. (Yes, that’s a real excuse I was actually given. And the high heels slowed them down for about 90 minutes by the way.) And the list of excuses went on and on. And yes they were offered all sorts of help with time management etc.

The Slacker doesn’t make up for their slackness.

The Slacker is not the sort of person to do extra work, or work extra hard, to help make up for their previous slackness. This is one of the biggest things separating us from the Slacker. When we haven’t been doing enough work, we get on with it and make up for lost time.

Every now and then The Slacker puts on a bit of a show.

Every now and then The Slacker puts on a bit of a show and does what some real work. But, and yes there is a ‘but’ here, their efforts are very short lived and we have a sneaking suspicion (well actually, a pretty strong suspicion) they’ve only put on a bit of a show for two reasons. One is to just get above the line so they can keep out of trouble.

And the other is to hopefully get a bit of acknowledgement for their efforts which they can later rely upon if challenged. And let’s face it, we usually give them plenty of acknowledgement as a way of encouraging them to keep up the good work.

There are 3 sub-types

There are three sub-types of Slackers who really get up my nose. The three sub-types are:

1) The Escape-Artist.

This is someone who may well be at work for the right amount of hours and may well be doing work that’s what we might call legitimate. But, the Escape-Artist gets too involved in too many minor, irrelevant and low priority jobs. Hence, they don’t do enough of the work they should be doing. For example, it’s important to leave the meeting room nice and tidy but the Escape-Artist will usually be the one to do the tidying up and and to take quite a bit longer than others to do it. They usually don’t ask if they can do it, they usually just do it and avoid doing the work they should be doing.

2) The Shirker.

The Shirker doesn’t do particular parts of their job. Perhaps they don’t like them. Or perhaps they can’t do them. We rarely know. But whatever the case, they don’t do enough work because they leave certain parts of their work undone. These are the people who, for example, seem make plenty of phone calls but don’t bother to document them properly or don’t document them at all. They’re the people who set plenty of tables in the restaurant but they don’t set them quite right even though they know exactly how to set them properly.

3) The Excuse-Maker.

This is the person who tells you, well in advance, they won’t be doing enough work. They’ll tell you they won’t be able to do some particular part of their work work because they don’t understand how to do it (despite being shown many many times) or they don’t see why it is necessary to do it (despite it being explained to them many times why it has to be done).

Anyway, that’s probably enough for this week. So let’s leave it there.  But just for good measure, here’s a video about The slacker as well.

All the very best,