Lazy? Apply Here!
In a recent casual discussion about working styles, I made a comment that I’m lazy. “No, you’re efficient” was the reply. Indeed I am, but I’m also lazy and I’m not embarrassed about it.
Smart people who are highly productive are assets in any organisation. They analyse the requirements, apply their skills, knowledge and intellect and diligently deliver results. They often work long hours and are passionate and enthusiastic about their work. I will hire people like this but I know they are most susceptible to burn-out.
I’m not one of those people. I am smart but lazy, and I will also select people like this for my business. In their quest for sloth, smart lazy people seek ways to offload their work. This means streamlining, delegating effectively and eliminating redundancy. Driven to reduce their workload, they need to be well managed. Point them at a job and they will reduce wasted effort but don’t leave your smart, lazy employee to languish too long. They need to be pointed at a new problem to repeat the process before the satisfaction of their laziness sets in. Otherwise they will get bored and seek a new challenge – probably outside your company. Smart, lazy people operate in a perfect paradox – driven to find intellectual stimulation that will keep them engaged but also motivated by a desire to lie by the pool with a mojito and do nothing.
Less-smart, lazy people have no place in our companies, but of course the less-smart productive people do. They get things done, handle all the repetitive work, do what has always been done without question. They are the workhorses of our organisations, but are also most at risk when we introduce new technology or automation.
I have been thinking a lot about employee profiles recently. My company is young but growing rapidly and like all business owners in this position, I have two problems: attracting and retaining talent, and managing cash flow. In a recent review by Forbes, the HR challenge was a greater concern than the financial one and certainly the one I think about the most.
We all know the smart, hardworking employees who arrive before the boss and leave after them. There is a long tradition of reward and recognition for this type of behaviour. I challenge this time-clock mentality in the same way offshoring challenges line-of-sight management. As more companies of all sizes examine their resourcing models, business owners can recognize that it is the smart lazy workers who can innovate and transform.
How can I inspire my hard working, smart people to be lazier? Not by framing it that way for sure. I am considering incentives, encouragement and leading by example to generate ideas on how we can do things more efficiently and reduce waste. I am scheduling brainstorming sessions out of the office to stimulate creativity. I am reinforcing that we are not a time-clock organisation but focussed on outcomes.
At Yempo, we are in an exciting phase of our evolution. Now in our second year, our processes and practices are in place and we have a fantastic culture. With the scary start-up phase behind us, we can examine those processes and practices and challenge ourselves to continuously improve and innovate. I just need to hire more smart, lazy people.
About the Author: Michelle Fiegehen is the CEO of Yempo, a boutique offshoring company in three locations in the Philippines. Now a permanent resident of the Philippines, she has lived and worked in the Philippines and India since 2009, building offshore capability for clients in Australia, United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Singapore, Dubai, South Africa and Hong Kong.