When you’ve spent some time as a manager, you start to learn about the people you’re leading. You find out that Bill in Accounting spends a lot of time gossiping at the local watering hole (AKA water cooler), but somehow makes up that time in output. Darlene in Sales likes to wear tennis shoes to work with sparkles on them; that sparkle seems to go through the phone when talking to customers. They’re always happier when she’s done with them. You learn a lot about their eccentricities and work habits.
Some of that information is what you’d call “useless facts.” Not really necessary in terms of the job they do. However, there’s one bit of information a good leader not only catches, but also figures out the why and how to fix it.
Pinpointing Areas of Underperformance
You’re always going to find areas of weakness; everyone has them, just like everyone has strengths. It’s not always easy to find them, and it’s not always easy to find who’s responsible for them.
For example, when you run an assembly line, you have a certain quota to meet each day or week. If you consistently miss that quota, it behooves you to find out why. Where is the bottleneck? Is there more than one? Is it one person, or several?
Usually, you’ll find that it’s a series of issues, not just one. If it’s a problem with a machine, you replace the machine. If it’s a problem with the user, you have to take the next step in great leadership.
Recognizing the Difference Between Can’t and Won’t
If the cause of underperformance is a person, it’s up to you to figure out why. Is your employee just not doing what they’re supposed to (lack of drive), or are they incapable of doing what they’re supposed to (lack of skill)?
- Lack of Skill – If your employee has a lack of skill, it’s relatively easy to fix. Coaching, training and support can close the gap between the desire to work and the ability to do the work.
- Lack of Drive – If your employee lacks drive, it’s a bit more difficult a problem to solve. Why do they lack drive? Is it a personality issue? Do they understand how their work keeps things rolling? Find out their motivation.
Sometimes, the best way to deal with a person who isn’t achieving the necessary amount of output is to let them go. It does come down to that on occasion, but it shouldn’t be your knee-jerk response.
Part of building a strong personal brand is becoming a strong leader, and part of being a strong leader is gaining the ability to help your team grow in its overall strengths. Take the time to practice “can’t/won’t recognition.” Learn how to motivate others to be their best, and you’ll show your potential employers your best.
- Posted by Gabriella Sannino
- On June 28, 2017