I think for many, procrastination is a symptom of another problem, a less than ideal attitude toward the work they are doing. Consider the following statements.
don't have the desire or the drive to do the assignment.
I just get to things when I feel up to doing them.
I want to do something else.
Chances are that if you were to analyze your workers with a tendency to procrastinate you would find those employees in agreement with a least one of the above statements.
Often when we first hire employees, they produce very well, but as time goes on there is a decline in performance. Sometimes formerly fastidious workers become procrastinators. Why? It isn't unusual for people to just get bored with their work, especially when they have been doing the same thing for a long time. As I have mentioned in previous articles, cross-training your employees can help with boredom and keep things in your shop humming. Switching up the routine occasionally can give people the incentive they need to be productive again.
A problem that is often seen with young employees today is a lack of self-discipline. For some in the video game generation, if it isn't on a screen, it isn't interesting. Instant gratification has become the norm for many young people. Working in a shop isn't always fun either. The results can be that job tasks aren't completed when they should be. Have we raised a generation of procrastinators? In cases such as these, a firm hand is required. The employee must see there are consequences if tasks aren't completed in a timely fashion, and it is important that we set the example by not procrastinating ourselves.
As a manager we need to be alert to our own work habits as well as those of our employees if we want to maintain a productive company. The bottom line is that procrastination is expensive. If there is a problem at your company with procrastination, take action immediately. As the old proverb says, "Never put off until tomorrow what should be done today."
About the author: Jon Olson is the production and operations manager for Sterling Surfaces in Sterling, Mass. He has been a solid surface fabricator since 1982 and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.