Edward Deming, the father of Process Improvement, said (paraphrased) that when an employee screws up, we assume right away that we have a bad employee, when in fact there are a dozen other things we should look at before we come to that conclusion. Deming suggests the problem may be somewhere else. I couldn’t agree more.
First look at the vision for your company. Don’t know where you are going? Then your employee can’t be in trouble because they aren’t doing ANYTHING that will keep you from getting there. Deming and I would both say get your vision fixed first.
Then look at your mission – do you have a clear understanding of the results you are to produce for your clients? If not, how can your employee harm your lack of clarity? He’s doing “badly” because neither he nor you know what a good result even looks like!
If your vision and mission are clear and everyone is on board with them (including your “problem employee”), than take a look at your leadership. Are you leading the way you should? Are the other leaders in your business leading the way they should? If not, why would you expect a great follower?
Then look at your infrastructure – does your employee have the tools and environment to be successful? If so, great. But is the employee properly trained including ongoing training? If so, you can check that off.
If all the above is in place, does your employee have clear expectations for performance, and clear WRITTEN processes for getting there? If not, then you’ve got some work to do here.
And finally, if all the above is in place, you have to ask yourself, did you hire someone who doesn’t fit your culture? Did you get tempted and hire for skills even though you knew this person didn’t fit?
If all the above is checked off the list, you probably have a problem employee. But how often do we look at ourselves and our own companies before we throw stones at our people?
It’s a lot easier to see that you have a problem employee, when in fact, more often than not, you have an employee problem, or actually an EMPLOYER problem, neither of which was caused by the employee.
Do you hate the thought of ever taking on employees or managing the ones you have? Are employees convincing you by their behavior and results that employees in general are simply a bad idea?
The fact is that your view of employees is not a result of employees in general being a bad idea. It’s because you are not willing to deal with the need to address your own soup and the things above that will help you actually build a business where employees could be stakeholders who find real significance.
If you don’t like your existing employees or hate the idea of ever having any, take a look at your own issues and unwillingness to build a business. The problem is there more often than with the employee.
by Chuck Blakeman, Author of the #1 Rated Business Book of the Year, Making Money is Killing Your Business