Determining the cause of a performance issue can be like being a detective– here is a list of 11 major reasons employees “don’t do the job” with possible solutions.
1. They don’t know what to do
2. They think they are doing it
Solution: I read many job descriptions—hundreds per year from dozens of organizations—rarely do they clarify for me the specific job activities and key results areas, much less how the job will be measured. It is difficult to hold someone accountable to results when the manager has not made it crystal clear what those results should be and what s/he has to do to get those results. Otherwise employees just take their best guess and do what seems to be the most urgent.
3. They think something else is more important
Solution: A great survey report showed that employees only agree with managers on 1 out of 3 priorities! Frequent coaching and follow up makes sure that what a person is working on is the highest priority for the job and department. An employee does the best she can reading the tea leaves to guess what her manager thinks is priority. Don’t make them guess… also, remember employees often don’t have the broader view or much information outside of their own activities (and yes, the more they do the better decisions they will make.)
4. They don’t know how to do it
Solution: Work with employee to identify skill or competency to enhance with training, create a training plan with a timeline and hold employee accountable to stick to the plan (even if it means reminding her manager to schedule the time or resources).
5. They are uncomfortable doing it
Solution: Sometimes a little training can increase someone’s confidence and they become “comfortable” with the task and then perform it regularly. More likely this is a symptom of job fit—someone’s personality traits or competencies are not aligned with those required to excel in the job. A classic example is “asking for the sale”— a person who is cooperative (lower assertive) can be trained for years on sales techniques and given scripts, but he is always uncomfortable closing. For job fit, the remedy is to change the job duties to ones that correspond with the person’s strengths and attributes.
6. They lack the competency needed to do it
Solution: Depending on the type of competency, the person may benefit from more training and development. However, many competencies are a function of personality traits that are ingrained and difficult to change even with extensive training. For example, “planning and organizing” is a set of traits and habits that your employee may not have and will be challenged to overcome in a role that requires tracking and pacing their work on month-long project. In many cases, the solution is finding a better job fit for the incumbent’s competencies.
Source: Feedback/ Recognition
7. They can do it but don’t want to
8. They are rewarded for not doing it
9. They are not rewarded when they do it
Solution: This is fundamental psychology. People do what is measured and recognized and rewarded. If they are not rewarded (or worse, “punished”) for doing something, most people stop doing it. Sales people don’t like to do paperwork—but they also don’t want to be reminded that they were late 9 of the last 10 weeks—this is powerful feedback.
Often the signals sent by managers are unintended. Do you reward your poor performers by giving extra work to others that you can depend on? Do you remember to praise and even publicly recognize the team that worked last weekend to finish up a project?
10. They don’t know why they should do it
Solution: Some people will blindly follow rules, but most want to know the “why” behind something that they are asked to do. It they believe a task or process is x (insert label here: low importance, arbitrary, a waste of time, or just plain stupid), no amount of training will effect a change in behavior. You might get begrudging compliance but that is about it. To get commitment, you have to explain the “why” to change the belief. (Until they believe his IS important, worth my time, etc.)
11. They think their way is better.
Solution: Read the solution above… plus this often happens when you ask someone who is good/ comfortable with the “old way” and now you have a “new way.” And in the beginning, the old way is better since an employee is more comfortable and competent in the old way. A big part of culture change and process change is to overcome the belief that the old way is better.
A key personality trait is openness to new experiences and some people are not. They will cling to the things they know how to do. As a manager you will need to support and coach these employees through the pain and fear that comes with change. Recognize that this is more deep seeded than just a training issue, but a consistent personality trait or a cognitive filter (belief) and be patient and supportive, and work through changing the belief, not just behavior.
As a client’s manager once stated, “if we have 100 people then we have 100 different personalities.” It’s your job as a manager to figure out what is the cause and the solution that works for all the unique individuals on your team.
Read the Short Guide
This module focuses on how to prepare for and deliver performance feedback via one-on-one discussions and then ongoing corrections and compliments.
Train – 13 Total Rewards
In this video you will learn:
- How to incorporate the World at Work Total Rewards Model into your organization.
- How to make sure what you are rewarding is what you need for your organization’s strategy.
- The importance of total rewards element to create employees that are engaged – they go above and beyond – because employees that are engaged is how your organization succeeds.
To your People success,
-Diana Southall, People Coach and creator of the People Plan™
If you are ready to create your own People Plan, learn more about our Toolkit resources.
Does your organization pay discretionary bonuses or “profit sharing” to employees this time of year? Year end payments have many names… bonus, incentive, profit sharing, gain sharing…
The majority of organizations make these annual payouts that typically cost 3-10% of employee pay, but are you getting any “bang for your buck?”
The plans (if you have one) range from the individual to the entire group, and from an entitlement to true pay for performance. Of sometimes managers just pick a number and add it to someone’s paycheck.
The communication ranges from a personal conversation describing the specific performance that earned this bonus, to a team bonus tied to specific profit or operation goals, or a “hey, boss, thanks for the bonus, what was it for?” Perhaps worst of all is “where is MY year end bonus?
When payroll budgets are tight and benefit costs are rising at alarming rates, perhaps your management team should take a look at your year end payments, and ask the following questions:
- What are the desired behaviors (performance) that we want to reward (that help us achieve our goals)
- Does the payout reward desired behaviors?
- Do recipients understand how their payment linked to organization goals? (and what they can do to earn more of this?)
- Does it follow our firm’s Three C rules that employee ask:
-Clear— what do I need to do to earn it?
-Control— how do I impact the results that impact the amount?
-(not) Complex— is the plan easy to understand how I earn it?
As much as everyone likes “extra” money during the holidays, perhaps the money you are spending on these could be more effective properly linked to performance or diverted to another part of your total compensation budget.
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
“McJob- a low-paying job that requires little skill and provides little opportunity for advancement” (Webster dictionary).
But how wrong they are!
According to a recent article by our firm’s founder Dr. Jerry Newman and McDonald’s Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer Richard Floersch, McDonald’s actually has very high employee perceptions of advancement opportunities.
Reward/ Percent Who Love This About McDonald’s:
- Learning and development -80%
- Skill development and opportunity -79%
- Career opportunity -76%
Contrast McDonald’s results with numerous studies that consistently show about half of employees do not see long-term careers at their company, and more than one-third of employees believe they must leave their current employer to advance to a higher-level job.
Opportunity is Key to attracting employees: A recent Experience Inc survey of 2011 college graduates, 55% list career advancement opportunities as the most important factor in choosing a job (just above pay and challenging work).
Opportunity is Key to engaging employees: Aon Hewitt found that a clear career path and career development were two top drivers of engagement.
Typically organizations have positions with multiple levels, but they are not always clearly defined or communicated.
For example, a client had production workers with three levels of responsibility and skill, but they were not apparent to employees.
The company decided to title these three levels production, senior production and team leader. The job levels corresponded to different performance expectations and pay levels. Managers were trained to discuss with employees performance against their current job, communicate the “next” level job responsibilities, and mutually agree on a development plan with each employee who was interested in that next level.
Employees now know the clear career path, how they get there, and what the reward will be when it is achieved. (Or they can choose to stay in their current position as long as they perform to expectation). Managers now have a clear development plan for every employee and can focus their feedback and training on this plan. This also provided a succession plan by building a core of senior and team leaders to assist the Plant Manager and identified an Assistant Manager who is now quite successful.
Image courtesy of ratch0013 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
“Employees expect to be recognized when they do good work. Thanking employees for doing good work is not just common sense, it increases the likelihood that they will want to continue to do good work and serves as a catalyst for attracting and retaining talented employees you and your organization need to be successful.” Dr Bob Nelson.
Dr Bob’s research found that managers who used recognition reported that it assisted them to:
- Better motivate employees (90%)
- Increase employee performance (84%)
- Provide practical feedback (84%)
- More easily get work done (80%)
- Enhance productivity (78%)
- Better achieve their personal goals (69%)
- Achieve their job goals
Our July 31 blog post on feedback mentioned that ideally employees want about 6 praises for every 1 correction.
To ensure sure managers are providing this level of aligned praise, an organization should have a formal recognition program. Back to the Aberdeen report (read 7/31 blog post), 65% of Best companies have a formal rewards and recognition program compared to 46% of the lowest performers (and I will bet you $1 that the Best companies have better alignment of recognition with goal-specific employee activities).
I remember in college I had a supervisor (another student) who would also say “thanks for your help today” but this did not engender any sense of pride or accomplishment— and now I realize why. He did not specifically explain what I did that was good today, and lost the opportunity to encourage goal-specific activity next shift.
What conversation are your managers having with employees and how often?
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