Most people at work are good employees.  They do what’s expected most of the time.  They work hard, come to work every day and play well with others.  Some employees go above and beyond the normal expectations.  They arrive early, stay late and are nice to have around.  But then there are those few employees and occasionally good employees, when they do it wrong or not at all.

We have all asked ourselves at some point, “What’s going on?  Why can’t they just do what I asked them to do?”

Here in this series, we will highlight 13 reasons that can affect a person’s performance and provide some ideas on how to handle them when they arise.  Many managers feel that they are just not motivated, which leads to non-specific answers to the problem.  In contrast, knowing what the problems are changes the question from, “How do I motivate them?” to “How do I improve their performance?”  Understanding this concept leads to specific actions that can be taken.

They Do Not Know How To Do It

Many people think this is the same as not knowing what to do, but they are quite different.  A person might know they are supposed to motivate team members, but don’t know how to do it.

Many managers mistakenly think that telling a person what to do is teaching an employee what to do.  Telling certainly is an active part of teaching, but for active learning to occur, it is necessary for actual practice doing the task being taught.  A common approach to training is to assign an experienced employee to teach a new employee how to do a particular task.  But teaching is not something one does naturally.  If your employee doesn’t know how to teach, the training may not happen.

An ineffective method of training is the “monkey see, monkey do” approach.  Lost in this process are the finer details of the how and why certain things are done.  Afterwards, the new employee is often too embarrassed to say they still don’t understand what to do.

What Can You Do?

If you want people to know how to do what they are supposed to do:

  • Choose a single person to train the new employee
  • Create a training manual for the instructor that will guide and standardize the training
  • Provide detailed reference manuals that will support learning
  • Give the employee an opportunity to practice
  • Create an evaluation to determine whether learning has occurred

If you want to know if an employee knows how to do something ask the employee to describe what it is that they are doing or give them a chance to show you while you watch.

Learn more about handling employee problems.