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Archive for month: September, 2012

Employee performance problems? Maybe there’s a cause you haven’t considered.

Categories: Behavior change, BMT Courses, Feedback, Leadership, TrainingAuthor:

Leaders often ask me, “How can I get my people to…”

  • Reply to my emails
  • Find opportunities instead of pinching pennies
  • Spend more time with their direct reports
  • Develop their direct reports
  • Ask more questions and make fewer statements

Why don’t they just do what they’re supposed to do?

Ferdinand Fournies wrote a really good book on this topic, Why Employees Don’t Do What They’re Supposed To Do… we recommend it all the time.  Fournies examines all of the logical reasons that employees might underperform.  Some of these include:

  • They don’t know what’s expected of them (this accounts for a surprising 40-50% of cases)
  • They don’t know how to do the requested task
  • There are barriers preventing them from doing the requested task
  • There are more alluring consequences for doing something else

The process in this case is simple; figure out what is causing the problem and fix it by taking care of the deficiency.

In Analyzing Performance Problems: Or, You Really Oughta Wanna, Mager and Pipe say that some problems are can’t do problems and some are won’t do problems.  The former set deals with antecedents (the top 3 bullets in the Fournies book above), and the latter set deals with consequences (the last bullet in the Fournies book above).  You should determine if a problem is a can’t do or a won’t do problem, and deal with it accordingly.

There’s another option that is not immediately obvious from the books listed above: The problem is you.

One bit of feedback we routinely get in our BMT courses is, “When I started the course, I thought it was about them. However, part of the way through, I realized it was about me.”  One cannot underestimate the power of this small insight in the life of a business leader.  For the avoidance of doubt, let me connect the dots for you.

If you’re having trouble getting people to:

  • Reply to your emails
  • Find opportunities instead of pinching pennies
  • Spend more time with their direct reports
  • Develop their direct reports
  • Ask more questions and make fewer statements

…or just about anything else, perhaps you should consider taking a closer look at the environment you’ve created for them.  Sorry, but there’s a good chance your behavior is a root cause.