People Not Performing? Look In The Mirror

Managers love their people to perform according to their expectations. But are your employees delivering the way you desire them to? Or are they behaving the way you allow them to? Do you allow your meetings to start late? Do you allow your direct reports to interrupt you without a scheduled meeting for non-emergencies? Do you take on their tasks? Do you bail them out of making decisions, or worse override their decisions? Do you limit their critical thinking opportunities?

Then, are you overworked, stressed out, frustrated and unsatisfied with your people? Most employees don’t start working for you thinking they will do a bad job, let you down, and then get fired. That behavior is often created by managers who don’t understand the impact of their actions. You owe it to your people to coach, train and develop them into team members who meet your expectations.

Early in my career, I had a role model on how to set expectations. I was a general manager for a publicly traded company. I reported to the CEO. I would go to him every time I had a question or needed his help with one of my responsibilities. I would interrupt his work on his own priorities. This made him less efficient. He asked me to write down all the questions or challenges I had as they came up, put them in a file and then we would discuss them weekly at our meeting. He would coach me and mentor me through the process. Helping me to be disciplined and take more initiative in my role. 

Once I was late to an executive meeting. We had about eight people in attendance who made it on time. When I arrived at the meeting, the CEO welcomed me and asked me why I was late. I gave an excuse about traffic. He pointed out that everyone else made it to the meeting on time without a problem. Then he did something many managers today seem afraid to do. He held me accountable publicly. He said, “I know you don’t mean to do this, but by your actions, you just told everyone here that your time is more valuable than theirs.” I felt terrible because I did not feel that way and I knew I let my team down. I knew the CEO was correct even though it was hard for me to hear. I respected him and did not want to let him down. I was never late again.

As I was learning, I was not meeting his expectations. He met with me and gave me six months to improve, or he would replace me. After six months, he promoted me to Vice President of Operations. Let your people know what you expect of them. Expect them to do the job and trust them to do it. Give them the help they need by coaching and mentoring them.

Really great managers do not believe they are indispensable to the business. They don’t feel they have to have all the answers or solve all the problems to prove themselves. They train and develop their successors so there is a sustained bench of good people to keep the business going. Let your life get easier as you let go of stress and frustration. Your people will perform to the level you train and expect. 

The Author Spencer Horn is the President of Altium Leadership For additional information consider the following topics: “One Skill Executives Struggle With Most” “The Power of Accountability;”“Love What You Do”“The Truth About Authentic Leadership”“Effectively Managing The Praised Generation”“How To Solve More Problems As A Leader”“How to Prepare Your Next Generation of Leaders”“Why Employees Don’t Do What You Hired Them To Do”

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