Eric’s manager said to me, “Eric will not take initiative. He knows his job but does only what I tell him to do.”
“What have you tried?” I asked.
“I’ve told him to do what he thinks needs to be done and don’t wait around for me to give him an assignment. He wasn’t responsive, so I started giving him detailed checklists.”
“How did that work?”
“Not so well. Eric made a half-hearted effort to do a few things but mostly he just conjured up excuses.”
Effective leaders are attentive to each employees’ uniqueness. Some like detailed instructions, some like broad guidance. Some like public praise but public attention embarrasses others. Pressure motivates some people to rise to the occasion, others buckle.
If your current way of dealing with an employee is not producing the desired results, then change your methods.
Since micromanaging did not work with Eric, maybe the leader could try giving him specific outcomes with deadlines and a lot of freedom in performing his tasks.
Of course, if a leader tries several ways to motivate an employee and none seem to work, it is likely that the employee just does not have the talent or commitment to perform.
As a peer described Rob, “He’s always kidding around and usually has a joke handy.”
A friend, passing Rob’s work station, noticed that Rob had a 1960’s Playboy-type photo of a model on his computer screen. “I don’t think you should have that photo on your screen,” the friend commented.
“Aah, it just popped up,” Rob said. “I don’t always know where these things come from.”
Others had also noticed questionable images on Rob’s screen but no one spoke about it. A young female employee, who recently joined the team, said to her friend. “I was talking to Rob and I was shocked at the image I saw on his computer.”
Eventually, someone reported Rob to Human Resources. When questioned, Rob’s supervisor said, “I guess I was aware of it, but I didn’t pay much attention. It’s hard to control everything that appears on someone’s computer.”
After investigating, the company found both Rob and his supervisor to be in violation of its sexual harassment policy. “Why discipline me?” the supervisor asked. “I didn’t do anything.”
Supervisors need to know that they may be held accountable for “contributing to a hostile work environment” even if they did not commit the questionable acts.