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 Think Something Else is More Important

“I have not had the time to get to it yet.”

“I had a few other thinks to take care of.”

“That will be the next thing on my list.”

These sound like excuses, but the employee merely thought something else was more important. Sometimes, employees do not know what tasks or projects are of higher priority. Perhaps this is happening because the manager has not assigned priorities, has them labeled all as high priority or the manager changes the priority without telling the employee.

For the most part, this problem is not that the employees are not working. They are simply doing whay they believe are the tasks that should be done first. Sometimes, a manager will roll out a high-priority project with great care and flare and then communicate changes as an oh-bu-the-way. There is a limited amount of time in any workday. The key to running a successful organization or department is to have their people working on the right things.

What Can You Do?

• Label the work according to its priority. Explain why one is higher than the other.
• If the work comes from another source, give them a list of priority categories so they can prioritize it when they receive it.
• Make sure they are the first to know when changes occur.
• If you change “hot” projects frequently, then you need to allow enough time to let everyone know which project is not the ”hot” project and why.
• Stop labeling everything as a “Hot Project.” Even in an emergency room there are emergencies that carry a higher priority. Having constant panic situations in a work environment is not productive.

Learn more about handling employee problems.