4 Mistakes Leaders Make With Non-Performing ‘Slackers’
There are four common mistakes leaders make when someone isn’t pulling their weight.
Are you making these 4 mistakes when it comes to a non-performer? Today I’m going to discuss what those mistakes are and what you can do instead.
MISTAKE NUMBER ONE:
Jumping into solutions too quickly, without adequately exploring and identifying the real problem. Like a doctor diagnosing a patient’s illness, what initially presents as the cause is usually a symptom of something else. And action without prior reflection is just a dog chasing its tail.
What initially presents as the cause is usually a symptom of something else.
Don’t move into solution mode too soon – not until you’re very, very clear you’ve nailed the real problem at hand. Spend time upfront exploring the root cause with them. Ask lots of open questions. Play Devil’s Advocate to your own assumptions. Listen. Be curious. Resist the temptation to become too quick and too simplistic in your diagnosis.
Hint: you won’t be able to do this unless you’ve had at least one decent coaching conversation.
MISTAKE NUMBER TWO:
Falling prey to the Fundamental Attribution Error. Automatically assuming the person’s non-performance is due to laziness or incompetence. Sometimes it is, but I have found that most often it’s something completely different.
At first, when you raise their awareness that there’s a problem, hold to your assumptions lightly but try to listen, understand and gather information.
Listening and paraphrasing don’t necessarily mean agreement, but it will surely deepen your understanding of what’s going on and help you to identify the root cause. Practice an open mind – the performance issue may be due to something systemic in the organisation, a training or skill issue, fear on their part to do something outside their comfort zone, or something major going on in their private life.
Each of these requires a different approach.
Ask yourself, “What else could be contributing to this pickle, other than behavioural disposition?”
MISTAKE NUMBER THREE:
Not spending enough time getting the person to see the benefits of changing – why it’s in their best interests to move from where they are to where they need to be. Exploring motivations (theirs, not yours) is fundamental to lifting performance.
Explore with them some of the following areas:
- What matters to you in discussing this area?
- Why is this (the area you are addressing) important? To them? Their team? The organisation?
- What are the benefits to them for changing (their behaviour/approach/getting it right etc.)
- What do they think are the consequences of inaction (particularly for them)?
- What will happen if nothing changes? Position this not as a threat but a “facing reality” conversation.
- What will it feel like if they DON’T achieve this? If they do?
Read this blog post for more tips on this.
Exploring motivations (theirs, not yours) is fundamental to lifting performance.
MISTAKE NUMBER FOUR:
Not being clear enough in the first place about exactly what great (and even satisfactory) performance looks like on the job. Getting on the same page, upfront, before there’s a problem, is a critical step that’s often overlooked or done half-heartedly.
Your team need to be crystal clear about what success looks like, why it’s important and how what they do links to the company vision. Ensuring their understanding is the same as yours goes a long way to avoiding ye ol’ ‘ambulance at the bottom of the cliff’ scenario. Too often performance issues occur due to lack of time and communication up front.
Your team need to be crystal clear about what success looks like, why it’s important and how what they do links to the company vision.
It may seem obvious, but make sure you are both on the same page about what is required and what success looks like. If they are performing in the role, what would we be seeing? How will we know? Discussions around good performance looking “like THIS, not THIS” are critical. Opportunities for this arise when initially moving into a role, at reviews, in team discussions, when reviewing projects and at monthly one on ones.
Applying these antidotes might just be what you need to get that ‘slacker’ to superstar status.
Do you agree or disagree? Leave your comments below, or share tips with us that have worked for you in the past.