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 What They Are Supposed To Do

“That’s not my job” is an early warning signal of this problem. Many managers interpret this as a poor attitude.  But if what was requested is part of their job requirement, why wouldn’t they know that?

There can be a big discrepancy between what managers think is the employee’s responsibility and what the employees think they are supposed to do.  A supervisor may ask you to keep him/her informed of problems, but was the person told what is considered a problem or how soon it should be reported?

Managers complain that employees are late for work, but all too often can’t detail what the allowable lateness is.  What kind of responses do you think you would get if you asked your employees what “being on time for an 8AM start” would mean.  What about, “The work was not done soon enough.”  How soon is soon enough? Or how quickly is “not quickly enough?”  Yet, these are common comments made about the performance of an employee.

What Can You Do?

  • If things that your employee do are unimportant to you or it doesn’t matter when they are done, let them do it any way they want.
  • Eliminate performance problems caused by people not knowing what to do.  Give them accurate job descriptions.
  • If you want to know if your employees know what to do, ask them to show you.
  • If you are the person who is going to hold the employee accountable to their task, then you, as the manager, should be the person to assign the task.
  • Define the steps required to accomplish a project goal; then identify when they should begin, end and how each step will be organized.
  • If you want more creativity, ask for it relative to specific problems and reward the effort.

Learn more about handling employee problems.

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