Good Slacker?

I was surprised to see the reader advice recently given in the Lucy Kellaway column of the Financial Times. A 15-year marketing executive wrote in describing why her effort on the job went down by half – but her latest performance appraisal was her best yet. The marketing executive is asking if its okay “to continue to coast” and if her feelings of guilt at coasting are wrong or merely inconvenient.

The columnist seems to believe that it’s not that the marketing executive’s superiors do not notice effort, but that the appraisal process itself is dodgy. Kellaway goes on to advise the writer to not feel guilty about slacking because she is “not cheating anyone, and if your employer is happy with what you are now putting in, that should be enough.”

This is the hallmark of how disengaged employees negatively impact the workplace and keep themselves, their divisions and ultimately their company from achieving the levels of high performance and bottom-line results that are possible. Quite contrary to Kellaway’s advice that the executive is “not cheating anyone,” she is actually cheating everyone by giving less than her best effort.

Even more disheartening is a reader comment: “I also had a good appraisal in a year in which I had stopped trying because I felt underappreciated.” Reading between the lines, it seems this reader only received recognition for her efforts at her annual appraisal. As our best practices show, frequent, appropriate and timely recognition ensures employees feel appreciated for their efforts on an on-going basis. I wonder how much more this respondent could have achieved – and how much more valued for her efforts she would have felt – if positive recognition happened more frequently than at the annual review.

What do you think about this Financial Times query? Is it okay to coast when your superiors seem to think you’re getting the job done? Do you think you’d be more likely to make a greater effort more consistently if you received more frequent recognition for your efforts?

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