And The Problem Is...YOU!

August 2006, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Dave Anderson - Also by this author

Whenever you misdiagnose a problem, you will mistreat it. Thus, when a subordinate is not performing, a leader should humbly look in the mirror before angrily glaring out the window. At your next management meeting, go over these three questions that will help properly attack the cause of poor performance rather than just curse its effect.
1. Did I clearly articulate what was expected and by when? Good people will try hard to hit a standard if they know what it is, but it’s difficult for them to be aggressive when they are confused. Just because something is said doesn’t mean it’s been understood. Make it common practice to gauge the employee’s comprehension of the task by having them paraphrase for you their understanding of exactly what you want done.

2. Have I provided the time and resources necessary to complete the assignment? You have every right to expect a task be done well and on time but you have no right to do so if you don’t equip the person for the job. When you don’t provide the resources to accomplish what you want done you set your people up to fail. This is especially true when requiring someone to tackle a stretch assignment of a magnitude they’ve not done before. If all the person has ever done is run around the block and you’re asking him to run a marathon, you’ll need to provide more time and resources.
3. Have I provided the training necessary to do the job well? Not training your people and then expecting them to perform is wishful thinking at its worst. You can’t get the prize without paying a price. Leaders who continually look to withdraw results from their people without making the adequate training deposits are lazy and looking for shortcuts. And just because you stick new hires in a two-week orientation training when they join your company and pump them up once a week in your sales meeting doesn’t mean they have the skills they need to succeed. Training isn’t a one-time payment, it’s an installment plan, and since the level of your employee’s performance is determined by the level of their practice, you’d best get serious, committed and back to work to develop the human capital in your charge.
When things go wrong and people aren’t getting the job done, a good leader looks in the mirror first. Some managers need to step up to the plate here. Too many have a black belt in blame and take the spotlight off their own deficiencies by blaming others. When managers fail to accept this responsibility, they fall victim to the old adage, ‘we have met the enemy and he is us.'

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