Customize incentives. Meet privately with lethargic employees and ask, “Can you help me choose incentives that will appeal to you?” Get them to suggest that mean something to them.
Challenge their indifference. Complacent employees often lack commitment to their work. They go through the motions.
Lift them out of their comfort zone. Ask them to take on more responsibility, head a project or represent you at a conference. They may start to care as they see their jobs in a new light.
Avoid fist-pumping pleas. Speeches won’t rouse lethargic workers. The more you try to rally them, the more they’ll hunker down.
Try listening rather than talking. Encourage them to share their hopes and aspirations, and respond to their concerns.
Buddy ’em up. Don’t let laggards work together. They’ll thrive on mutual laziness.
Pair your most energetic employees with underachievers. Ideally, the driven performers will set an example and the laggards will come to life.
Caveat: If none of this works, you need to hold poor performers accountable. That means firing them if necessary, no matter how tough you think it will be to hire a replacement. Otherwise, those energetic employees of yours will grow frustrated and quit, leaving you with only the slugs.