When someone is under performing it can be very frustrating and it is always easy to blame that person. However, I have found that often when this is the case it’s because clear expectations haven’t been set and there is also a lack of feedback.
I had just started working with a business owner and one of the first things he wanted to put on the agenda was to work out how he could quickly and easily get rid of his receptionist. I was surprised because I had met her a couple of weeks prior and she had come across as motivated and committed. So, I asked him to clarify for me what he thought she needed to achieve to do a “good job”. He replied that was easy, all she had to achieve was “A”, “B” and “C”. I then met with his receptionist and asked her what she thought were the three most important things she needed to achieve to do a good job. She literally replied by telling me she thought it was “C”, “D” and “E”. When I told her, it was actually “A”, “B” and “C” she said, “I used to do that, but I really thought he wanted me to do these other things, thank you. I knew something was wrong but the harder I tried, I just felt he wasn’t happy.”
It was abundantly clear that her criteria for doing a good job were very different from her managers.
Write down what you think are the three to five most important criteria for someone to achieve in their position and then go and ask them what they think. By the way, if you are an employee you can also do this exercise just reverse the roles and ask your manager what they think are the three to five most important criteria you need to achieve.
When clear expectations have been set, people are able to focus on what is important and get the right stuff done and achieve great results.
Frequent performance reviews and a well written job description is a great way of avoiding this problem.