Turning around chronic employee time-wasting behaviors can quickly improve the efficiency of your business

If you’re like most bosses, you have employee-driven pet peeves and frustrations to deal with on a daily basis. Whether it’s bad manners or using company time for personal phone calls, you’ve probably had to deal with these time-wasting behaviors at some point.

While most of these pet peeves start off as small frustrations, they can turn into bigger problems for you and the business over the long haul. The question is: What can you do to change these behaviors so they don’t affect the business negatively? Check out these eight bad behaviors and how you can change them:

1. Complaining about not being appreciated or recognized enough.

Dial up the praise and appreciation by personally making a daily effort to recognize the good work of your employees. Praise and appreciation, done well, is genuine, specific and timely. The more you dial up the praise and appreciation, the more productive and engaged employees will be. Start meetings with each worker by talking up how they helped a customer or resolved a difficult situation. Start with the positive rather than a focus on the negative.

2. Lack of follow-through when you ask them to do something.

Asking an employee to do something over and over will lead to frustration. Be careful to not micromanage, but if an employee isn’t doing what they need to do, bring it to their attention. Make certain they know what they need to do and ask them to write it down. Set a deadline for them to report back to you and then you won’t have to wonder whether or not the task was accomplished.

Employees need detailed, specific instruction, coaching, feedback and appreciation or correction. If an assignment isn’t completed, the next step is to sit down with the employee and resolve the issue.

3. Bad manners.

Messy or rude habits are unacceptable. Be sure to include all important personnel policies in your office policy manual. Be clear about your expectations with employees and hold them accountable, fairly and consistently, for their actions. Additionally, an office that looks messy or disorganized reflects badly on the business. If employees’ work areas are not kept clean and organized, they can lose critical paperwork and become distracted by the mess. Explain the benefits of a clean office and offer advice on how they can manage their own workspaces.

4. Failure to update you regularly about customers.

You can’t always keep up with current and potential customers. It’s critical that your employees build quality relationships with customers. As your staff is building these relationships, train them to communicate this information to you. Have policies in place for regular updates about new and prospective customers.

5. Not listening to customers.

Listening skills are your employees’ No. 1 sales tool. Their job is to understand the customers’ needs and concerns. Listening to the customer helps you offer better service. This connects the customer to the business and makes them feel “heard.” Ask your employees to relay pertinent information to you about customer concerns and problems to prevent small issues from turning into big problems.

6. Lack of confidence in pitching business to the customer.

Every employee should be able to confidently talk to potential customers about products and services you offer. Train your team to speak for you. They need to feel confident they’re saying what you would want them to say, especially in a difficult situation. Scripting is a valuable training tool. Write down the common concerns and questions of your customers and train employees on how to respond to each.

7. Using cell phones and the Internet for personal reasons on company time.

Cell phone use, texting and personal Internet use are forms of time embezzlement. Not only are these habits detrimental to your business and the customer, but resentment will build among workers who obey the rules. Morale drops and production goes down.

It’s up to you to limit these time stealers, and all workers need to be held to the same standards of responsibility. Many companies password-control the use of computers to identify misuse. Some offices install security cameras to monitor behavior.

8. Emotions block productivity.

At times, tears may be from frustration, anger or fear, especially with the younger members on your staff. Whether they are crying as a result of stress or a bad review, you need to calmly suggest other ways to respond. Discuss ways to resolve the issues causing emotional reactions.

Employers or managers that act out in anger will encounter more employee turnover and job dissatisfaction. Belittling or criticizing the employee, especially in front of another person, will only make the problem worse. The problem with a person who cries is others will avoid approaching them because of fear of their response. As the leader, it’s your job to encourage necessary change.



By following these guidelines, you can prevent the kind of festering trouble that can drive a wedge between you and your employees. Your staff will respect you for working with them to change these habits. Helping employees understand their role in the success of your business gets them involved and dedicated to doing their part. You’ll be happier, your staff will be engaged and the company will be successful!

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