“Employee Problems” doesn’t mean “Problem Employees”. We miss cause and effect all the time, and most employees usually aren’t at the bottom of employee problems.
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.
First, look at the vision for your company. Don’t know where you are going? Then your employees can’t be in trouble because they aren’t doing anthing that will keep you from getting there. So 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 employees 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”), then take a look at your leadership.
What you realise by now is, your employees need a robust foundation from which to do great work. Leadership is everything, so ask yourself these questions:
- Are you leading the way you should?
- Are the other leaders in your business leading the way they should?
- How do you expect your employees to be great followers if leadership is lacking?
When you have the answers, you need to get happy, productive staff to take a good look at your business systems and infrastructure.
Training and Resources
Do your employees have the tools and environment to be successful? If so, great. But are the staff properly trained, including ongoing training? If so, you can check that off.
Onboarding and Continuous Performance Management
If all the above is in place, does your staff 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 worker. 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.
Most businesses need staff, so you need training and knowledge to manage workers. What you don’t want is to be answering “Yes” to these questions:
- 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. Instead, it’s because you are not willing to deal with the need to address your own lack of people management.
The change is to come from you and your leadership to build a business where employees will be integral to growth and success, plus they could be stakeholders who find real contentment in their roles.
Most change starts from within, so work on yourself and your mindset first, then change the business to accommodate and foster great working relationships with your staff. Remember happy staff – happy customers!