It Sounds Like a Management Problem

Consultants are known for giving the standard answer to almost all questions of “It depends…” Though I give that response a lot, my most common response to a number of the questions I get these days are “That sounds like a management issue…”


What does it mean to manage and why is it important? To manage means to direct, supervise in an effort to accomplish an end. When we look at management in a business sense, it’s usually the management of people or a process to achieve the overall business mission and goals. I am often challenged by leaders and managers who will say something along the lines of….


“They’re adults, I should have to tell them how to do their job.”


The short and direct response is “Actually, yes, you do.”


There are two reasons you need to actually manage your employees.


First, it ensures that all performance, training and outcomes are in alignment with your overall company mission, vision and strategy.


Generally speaking, humans, your employees need direction. Will you find an employee who doesn’t ever need coaching and operates at a peak performance level at all times? Yes, they exist but they’re like unicorns. The majority of your employees will succeed with clearly communicated goals and direction, regular conversations about performance expectations and guidance and coaching for success.


Secondly, you owe it to every person you hire and employ, a fair and honest attempt to set them up for success. Some employers hire with the hope that the perfect employee exists. The perfectly trained, hard-working, knows all their systems already and at the right price employee but again, those are like unicorns. Have you ever seen a real unicorn?

So when employers have issues with employee’s attendance, performance, contributions to work, etc. how should they handle it? The first step would be an honest conversation that the performance has been observed and then a discussion about what is expected in that workplace. Most importantly, ask the employee what they need from you in order to be successful! Maybe they weren’t onboarded thoroughly, maybe they received mixed messages about a process or a procedure.


If the behavior doesn’t change, move through your progressive discipline system. Don’t wait for the behavior to stop on its own. Don’t wait for it to be swept under the rug. Remember, “nothing will kill a great employee faster than watching you tolerate a bad one.”


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