Do Not Feel Like a Failure if Some Employees Fail to Respond to Your Coaching


Jeffery whines constantly.

Eric puts off assignments and rushes to complete them at the last minute.

Shirley cannot seem to avoid gossiping about her coworkers.

Ethel does good work most of the time but is prone to silly mistakes.

Horace’s work space is always a wreck.

What to do with employees who behave like this? Coach them up, of course. But how much coaching does it take to cure these missteps?

Here is a reality check—you are more likely to win the lottery than you are to turn these flawed performers into reliable, go-to team players.

By the time you hire employees, most of their behaviors are hard wired. They have heard your lectures from previous employers, former teachers and their friends. You can also bet their parents gave them their best shot.

Who you hire is who you have. You cannot turn iron into gold and you will not likely perfect these prickly behaviors. You may be a good coach but you are not that good.

If problematic employees sabotage your team’s performance, work with human resources to professionally remove them. Perhaps they can find a better fit in another organization.  But if the irritating behaviors hover around the nuisance category, get over it. As the comedian Ron White said, “You just can’t fix stupid.”

 

General Managers Who Default to Specialists do so at their Own Risks


“I think we can use a commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) software program to track our marketing efforts,” the Marketing Vice President said.

The Information Technology (IT) manager disagreed, “I’ve examined several vendor programs and I’ve not found any that fit our unique needs.”

“Can we modify a commercial program and make it work for us?”

“We can but I don’t think we will be satisfied. With a minor investment, my department can design software that will work better.”

After further discussion, some of which became quite passionate, the Marketing VP defaulted to the IT Manager.

Many design evolutions later, and weeks behind schedule, IT proudly pronounced the program ready. Of course, implementation went sideways. Staff complained about missing data, poorly formatted reports, excessive options and more.

“I should have insisted on COTS software,” lamented the Marketing VP. “But how did I know? I’m not the software expert.”

When dealing with specialists, I think it is the manager’s responsibility to bone up on the subject matter.  Question vendors, seek coaching from other experts, explore YouTube videos—do what you must do to prepare yourself to ask intelligent questions and confidently evaluate options.

 

Don’t Reward Uncooperative Employees While Punishing Cooperative Employees


During the discussion of a serious design wreck, it quickly became apparent that only Juan and Hershel had the specialized talent to restore the project’s schedule.

When Hershel accurately perceived the project’s need for extra work, he spoke up. “I have family obligations the next couple of months and will not be able to work weekends.”

Although the manager was aware that Juan had been putting in a lot of hours on another project he said, “Juan, I hate to ask but do you think you can bail us out?”

Juan nodded and said, “I think I can be of help.”

The much-relieved manager accepted Juan’s offer. Although the manager may not have been aware, Juan also had upcoming personal obligations; but he was not the type to let personal issues impact his work.

Perhaps unintentionally, the manager’s decision had the effect of rewarding uncooperative behavior (Hershel) while punishing cooperative behavior (Juan).

Some would say that Juan should not have agreed if he thought the manager’s request was unfair. But I say it is the leader’s responsibility to avoid stacking work on cooperative team players while allowing self-serving, whiners to skate by with less effort.

 

My Top Ten Idiotic, Motivation-Killing Statements


businessman rating

Here are my top ten idiotic, motivation-killing statements.

If I gave you a “five,” you wouldn’t have anything to strive for.

You haven’t been here long enough to get a “five.”

I don’t give “five’s.”

HR requires that I write a justification if I give you a “five.”

Our policy discourages high ratings.

If I gave you a high merit increase, you would think you had it made.

Never let them know you are satisfied with their work.

Others might be envious if I gave you a big increase.

Yes, you did a good job, but this was a team success.

I know your attendance is perfect but we can always do better.

Effective leaders delight in awarding their best producers with high appraisals and merit increases.  The result is:  high producers strive even harder.

While lesser performers may publicly whine and whimper about their modest increases, they will learn that to get more they have to produce more.

Withholding rewards from high performers based on fear of losing commitment or upsetting slackers makes about as much sense as the late Yogi Berra saying, “No one goes there nowadays; it’s too crowded.”

 

Continuous Coaching on Employees’ Weaknesses Frustrates Everyone


Max, a new supervisor, said to Jamison, a well-trained and experienced employee, “Your work is good but the metrics show that it takes you too long to complete your tasks.”

“I like to be very careful,” replied Jamison.  “I don’t release my work until I know it is right.”

“I appreciate that but I don’t think you need to spend time verifying information that has already been double-checked and approved.”

“I just like to see for myself.  I don’t always trust what I get.”

“Sometimes I see you completely redoing a task that is already in compliance with customer specs.”

“I want to make sure that customers get my best work.”

Becoming irritated, Max said, “You are making it hard for others to complete their tasks on schedule.”

“They should concentrate on their work and not worry about me,” replied Jamison.

The more leaders focus on fixing employees’ weaknesses, the more frustrated everyone becomes.

According to Gallup Surveys, continuous coaching on employees’ weaknesses creates frustration, anger, de-motivation and resentment.   After employees have had sufficient training, if their overall work is acceptable, it may be better to realize that not all will be superstars.

 

Why Fans Boo Referees But Not Players


It’s the opening game of the season.  The receiver for the home team takes the kickoff in the end zone and fearlessly charges up field.

The standing crowd claps and cheers as the under-sized scat-back flattens three defenders on his way to the fifteen-yard line.  Spectators continue to roar.

Why?  The youngster made a bad decision that cost the team five yards.  If the receiver had downed the ball in the end zone, his team would have begun play on the twenty-yard line.

The crowd cheered because the youngster gave a heck of an effort, even though the result was less than desired.  Fans and coaches know that fan approval motivates the team to continue striving during broken plays, fumbles and interceptions.

During the game, players (and coaches) make many mistakes; but fans seldom boo their home team.  (By contrast, referees make very few mistakes and fans frequently yell bad words at the refs.)

Some days stuff happens.  When stress and blood pressure rises, it is tempting for leaders to show their displeasure (“boo”) to employees.  But this may be just the time that a loud cheer for “effort” is more beneficial.

If You Chase Two Rabbits, You Will Not Catch Either One


After a manager presented the departments’ ten objectives for the upcoming quarter, a supervisor asked, “Which are the most important?”

“All are important,” the manager replied.  “We have to achieve all of them.”

Another employee said, “Sometimes, we get surprises and it may not be possible to achieve everything.”

“Yes,” added another, “and some are in conflict.  When there is a quality issue, do I fix the glitch and miss the on-time; or do I ship on-time, knowing the product may be returned?”

The manager stated, “I expect you to make every effort to achieve all of the objectives.”

The manager’s comment shut down the discussion but did not address the issue.  No one believes all of the objectives are equally important.  To paraphrase a quote from George Orwell’s novel, ANIMAL FARM, “All of the objectives of the department are equal but some of the objectives are more equal than others.”

For an agricultural promotion, a state representative said, “We are Number One in egg production but not Number One in chicken production.  You can’t be Number One in both of those.”

We achieve great things by laser-firing our efforts toward being good at one thing at the time.  “If you chase two rabbits, you will not catch either one,” states an old proverb.