In Action, Change, Leaders

“Our own dilemma is that we hate change and love it at the same time; what we really want is for things to remain the same but get better.” – Sydney J. Harris

One of the most common frustrations I hear from leaders has to do with the performance of their people.  Not that all of their people are frustrating, of course.  But the ones who are demand an enormous amount of time and energy.  Whether it’s the quality of their work, or destructive behaviors, or something else altogether, those people can be all consuming.

You would think that if all of these leaders are really frustrated, then, that they would attempt to do something about it.  If one of your people is frustrating because of their poor work performance, you would expect the leaders to work on training and developing that person, or maybe finding a different role that’s a better fit for their skillset.  If one of your people is frustrating because of their destructive behavior, you would expect the leaders to have the work equivalent of an intervention, or provide serious coaching, or perhaps terminate that person.

In reality, quite often leaders do none of those things.  They complain about how frustrated they are, but they don’t do anything to improve performance.  They spend time trying to put out fires that these employees start, but they do nothing to prevent the next fire.  It’s like they think if they just complain about somebody at enough leadership team meetings that eventually the problem will fix itself.

It won’t.  People don’t just get better at their work or improve troubling behaviors because the leaders are practicing wishful thinking.  The same frustrating things will continue unless you act on them.  Even if the problem employees eventually quit, everyone knows you didn’t deal with it, and they know they can get away with the same behavior.

Be honest with yourself:  are you dealing with the problem performance and behaviors in your organization?  Everybody has them on some level.  Are you dealing with them?  Or are you just hoping they go away?

Don’t be afraid of the difficult conversation.  Most people avoid working on problem employees because they perceive the misery of dealing with it is greater than the misery they’re current experiencing.  Rarely is that actually the case.  Most of the time, once you’ve dealt with a problem employee, you wonder why you didn’t do it sooner.

You’re a leader.  You have a responsibility to the organization to deal with challenging issues.  Don’t just hope that those issues go away.  Deal with them, and enjoy the rewards.

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