Inactives are often considered the enemy within an organization. They’re viewed as being lazy and unmotivated. One former head of a large publicly traded company actually stated during an interview with a reporter, “Inactives rarely do anything.” This is not only from the company’s point of view, but also from the perspective of the employees that they represent.
In reality, most all work at some level of inactivity. It may be because they’re taking a vacation or it could be because they have the flu. In any case, most natives will bounce back and show performance worth their salary within a month or two. Those who don’t bounce back or don’t show improvement over a period of months will become disgruntled and, in many cases, Quit. Whether the reason is financial or personal, firing inactives is usually not a good idea.
Consider for a moment that most inactives don’t really want to work anymore. They just don’t want to put in the required time. Granted, they may enjoy what they’re doing and work well within their set parameters, but they don’t enjoy being under more than a contractual obligation to their employer. Even if they have good and positive things to say about their boss, they will still typically look at the clock and wonder when they’re going to get the next raise or promotion. In their minds, someone else will always be better.
This is not to say that everyone with a talent for working with people will become an employee leader. Many are not naturally successful managers. Yet it is often those with a natural ability to influence and motivate others that make a better team player and grow themselves into better employees. This does not, however, mean that you should never try to hire employees in who aren’t capable of doing the job or don’t show the ability to achieve high levels of success.
The problem with natives can also occur when you are looking for a new employee. Hiring someone without the ability to lead is a terrible idea. If the new employee cannot handle the lead and the direction, there is a good chance that they will not be able to provide the same quality of work as an inactive would do.
As a manager, you need to recognize that some employees will be inactive because they just aren’t willing to put in the required time and effort. That is a good thing, though. If you know that you can help a coworker who is inactive get the required work done because you are a good leader, that coworker will be a great addition to your team. Then, you won’t have to worry about dealing with a coworker who has difficulty getting their act together. When that occurs, you know you’ve found yourself a gem.