Mirror, Mirror

Discomfort and pain provide a wonderful window for change. This week reminded me that support at the right time can make all the difference.

Clients who have the desire but not the knowledge, strategy or skill are doing the best they can with what they’ve got. When they fall short, the boss might fault them. And it is true that I often tell managers and supervisors that if an employee is not performing at the desired standard, the first thing they should do is look in the mirror and ask what role they – the manager – has played in this.

Assessing Employee Performance: Questions for Reflection

  • Am I clear in my own mind of what his/her job is? Is there a question about the definition of responsibility?
  • Have I made clear to the employee what I expect of him/her? Could there be a problem of communication?
  • Have I gained his/her acceptance of what I have defined as his/her responsibility? Could this be a problem?
  • Have I fed him/her work according to his/her level of skill? Is this a training issue?
  • Have I given him/her too much work to do? Too little? How would I describe the work distribution?
  • Have I been realistic as to the performance I expect? Have I been clear about work standards?
  • Am I checking up on him/her too much? Could this be an issue of control?
  • Am I treating him/her any different than the others? Am I leaning on him/her more without realizing it? Favoring others?
  • Is s/he turned off?  Do I know why?
  • Have I been too hard on him/her? Too much criticism? Not enough “pats on the back” when s/he did a good job? Is it a question of reward and punishment?
  • Has s/he had personal problems I haven’t been aware of? Have I been sensitive to his/her situation?
  • Does it have anything to do with his/her relationship to the other workers? Is there an interpersonal concern?
  • Did I give him/her more responsibility than s/he could handle? Not enough? Is delegation the issue?
  • Am I paying him/her as much as the others for the same amount of work? Is there a perception of inequity?
  • Have I seen to it that s/he knows enough to do what I expect of him/her? Is training the problem?
  • Does s/he belong in this kind of work? Is it an appropriate selection?
  • Is s/he just plain rebellious? Is it a disciplinary problem?
  • Does s/he have problems I don’t know about? Is this a counseling concern?

Sometimes, it’s not about them at all. It’s about you.

As for the manager’s boss who thinks that their direct reports should know how to improve the performance of employees, I have been known to ask – “Where would they have learned that ability?”

Look in the mirror.

 

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