Understand Why Employees Are Not Performing

15 Minutes out of the Weeds – Why are People Not Performing?

I enjoy being challenged with questions about my business. I find it helpful to take 15 minutes each day to step back from the bushes and weeds and think critically–about my team, my goals, my progress, my direction. I hope that you find these moments useful too.

I am sitting on a flight today and I am reading a complimentary e- reader copy of John Maxwell’s, “Today Matters”. It is truly a great book that is challenging my thinking. I just read the following:

When it comes to change, there are really only three kinds of people:

Those who don’t know what to do
Those who know what to do but don’t do it
Those who know what to do and follow through

Wow…this is so simple and so true. Think for a moment about the people on your team….your direct reports or those who have a “dotted line” to you…maybe people your managers complain about. Can you put these people into one of the buckets Maxwell described? You can evaluate them based on the “whole job,” or based on a certain goal/skill/task, or you can evaluate them based on change in general.

If you are “frustrated with people,” which of these three buckets is the source of your frustration? If your managers complain about their people, perhaps you should challenge your managers and ask them to be more specific. Ask which of the three buckets their people fall into and which bucket is the source of their frustration.

If we do not know what bucket the person falls into, do we have the right to be frustrated with them? Does your manager have the right to complain and be frustrated if they do not KNOW answers to these questions? Are we truly asking why or just getting mad?

Once we have put our people into these three buckets, then we need to ask ourselves, “Why?” We also need to ask ourselves, if the person and their work are important, what will we do to remedy the situation? Obviously, for people in the third bucket, we simply want to challenge them, cheer them on, and thank them. For people in the first bucket, we need to train/coach/mentor and, of course, look back and figure out how to prevent this from happening again.

For people in the middle bucket…“They know what to do but don’t do it,” we need to ask “Why?” There is an easy way out for managers on this one, and that is “redeployment” or “free agency.” But in the Talent War environment we are currently in, this is not always the best option. We need to dig deeper and try to fix the problem…both the immediate problem and any underlying problems. What is getting in the way for these people? Are they not matched to the right job? Are they someone who loves people but you have them in a role that requires solitary concentration? Do they get distracted whenever another human walks by? Is the job not motivating to them? Does your employee hate rules and traditions and yet you have them in a role that requires filling out tedious forms? Does your employee LOVE people in a selfless way and yet you have them on the phone trying to collect on delinquent personal accounts? People who know what to do but don’t do it are often simply in the wrong job or in the wrong company.

I hope you take a moment to jot some ideas and names of people and ask yourself and your managers some “digging deeper” questions. I hope that this email helped you get out of the weeds for a moment and think about the underlying story of what is going on with people who “do not do what they are supposed to do”.

Check out the resources section to get more “get out of the weeds” exercises…and maybe more fun stick figures!