They say that a successful manager is that can get things done through others. To accomplish this, Managers need a method and tools for comunicating goals to employees, providing metrics, measuring success and mentoring. Therefore collaboration between manager and employee is key to the success of both parties.
When asked (Employees) "What knowledge do you need in order to do your job?" the answers consistently fell into the following buckets:
  • We need to know what we are supposed to do.
  • We need to know how far we are expected to go in discharging our responsibilities.
  • We need to know how well we are expected to do our jobs.
  • We need to know how well we are doing our jobs.

When speaking with managers, many say their employees don’t know their jobs. When asked to articulate specifics they could not. When asked what the perfect employee did to be so successfuly, management could not answer. Is this disturbing? Yes.

From an employee perspective, here is a list of key points that highlight why employees don’t perform well:

  • They don’t know what they are supposed to do.
  • They don’t know how to do it.
  • They don’t know why they should do it.
  • They think they are doing it (lack of feedback).
  • There are obtsacles beyond their control (authority or organization barriers).
  • They think it will not work.
  • They think their way is better.
  • They think something is more important (priorities).
  • There is no positive consequence to them doing it.
  • There is a negative consequence to them for doing it.
  • There is a positive consequence to them for not doing it.
  • There is no negative consequence to them for not doing it.
  • Personal limits (incapacity).
  • Personal problems.
  • Fear (they anticpate future negative consequences).
  • No one could do it.

Can you relate to some of these points? I can. One incident that comes to mind was my first position with a company just out of school, I worked very hard – being new to the workplace. Others in the group saw this as exposing their slack appoach to the job and therefore I was pushed out of the group – even after being prasied by management. In another situation, I worked very hard and became a key employee but the problem became lack of resources and ultimately hiring authority. Soon a seven day work week became the norm and being on-call 7/24 – after a year and half and no relief in site I resigned. I’m sure we all have examples of how management hasn’t supported employees and this critical mistake lead to resignations or consequences that were totally unexpected.

To solve this problem, some basic management disciplines and management tools can help the situation greatly. The following are the key points:

  • Create a job overview;
    • Provide clear examples of how to be successful. (Documents)
    • What goals must an employee have? (Custom list)
    • What tasks must the employee perform day to day to achieve goals? (Custom list)
  • List key skill sets and how to build upon them:
    • Create a training plan (Custom list)
    • Establish metrics for success (Custom list
    • Establish a mentoring network (Contact list)
  • Performance reviews:
    • Establish monthly face to face performance reviews. (Documented reviews against key behaviours and metrics)
    • Establish feedback mechansims and provide clear feedback mapped to job goals. (Discussions based on projects and other objectives)
  • Remove barriers for the employee:
    • Help them establish a network – contacts and introductions. (Seed their contact list)
    • Pair them with mentors – contacts and introductions. (Contact list)
    • Provide them with required tools. (Personal Site, Laptop, Cell, book expense etc.)
  • Find out what motivates them and use it.
  • Help them achieve their career aspirations.

Want to learn more? have a look at my reading list.