The social butterfly

Have you ever had an employee that wanders around the office – like, A LOT? You know, the one who likes to engage in conversations with everyone and seems to be always on a coffee break? This social butterfly type employee can create a lot of frustration for a manager or supervisor. Some managers believe that in order to curtail the wandering social butterfly is to create separate & isolated workstations. Unfortunately, this form of management practice doesn’t increase performance of the employee. On the contrary, it usually just creates more problems.


Because the office wanderer is known to have two problems:

The first problem is that they truly enjoy the socialization aspect of their job. The sense of community they experience is probably one of the reasons they joined the company. If they lose the ability to socialize, they will quickly become demotivated;

The second challenge they have is their lack of self-motivation which affects their ability to organize their day.

Bring out better performance

The best way to bring out better performance from the wandering employee is to focus on managing results instead of what they are doing every minute of the day. This way, they can still socialize as long as objectives and deadlines are being met and they are not preventing other employees from meeting their deadlines.

Start with daily reviews and high accountability on daily production. You will need to be sure they are on the right track before you give them more time between follow-up. Your goal should be for them to check in once a week with their weekly progress report and next weeks’ objectives.

If you find that your wandering employee is resistant to the way you are managing their performance, explain to them the importance of producing results within the time frame set out for them. Remind them that reaching goals, personal improvement, and personal growth will not only benefit them but also benefit the company overall. 

It’s good enough

If they are feeling that they are doing ‘good enough’, then do an evaluation with them to see where their overall performance is compared to the company standard. Then, determine what needs to change and set up a plan of action. Don’t forget this part: Do it in writing. This way there is no misunderstanding about what was discussed.

Managing your wandering employee can not only be difficult, but also time consuming – especially when you initially have to maintain close contact with them on a daily basis. The benefit of managing them this way is that in the long run, the employee will be retrained and require less of your time overall to produce great results. This will lead to less stress and more time for you to spend on other areas of your small business that you need to focus on.

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