When Your People Don’t Do What They Should
Some of the hardest times I have ever faced as a leader were those when someone on my team was not doing what they should. If you are like me, inevitably you will have at least one person on your team who is in this camp, and sometimes more.
And so we ask ourselves, “What should I do when my people are not doing what they are supposed to do?”
I want to share with you the solution to this challenge. Are you ready for this?
When our people are not doing what they are supposed to do, it is because we are not doing what we are supposed to do. Let’s not blame, explain, fault, or hold court to find the guilty party. It’s you and me.
If you hold the leadership position, then you are responsible. Right? You hired them. You placed them in the position they are in. You created the vision, set the expectations, put them on a team, and gave them appropriate feedback. Moreover, you keep them on the team.
So when one of my people are not doing what I think they should, then I have failed in one of these areas, or something similar. (Read more about this here: Why You Should Not Blame Anyone) If you are there now, let me encourage you, friend. You are not alone. This is the story of every leader. Good or bad. Successful or not. Young or old. If you lead people, you will experience times when your people are not performing up to par. But what should we do about it? How should we think through these situations?
What to do when your people falter?
- Stop and think. Take some time alone to evaluate and think. As leaders, we are notorious for loving action. But my friend, we need to stop and reflect when something is not going right with our people.
- Face the music. Face reality, even when it hurts. If there is a poor performer on our team, it usually highlights a shortcoming on our part. We either hired the wrong person, put up with bad behavior for too long, or did not know how to empower them, equip them, or place them in the right position. Whatever the issues are, to the best of your ability, try to diagnose the problem and its cause.
- Be patient. If there is one virtue successful leaders have, it is this: they are patient. They persevere. They know when to give their people time to grow into where they need to be. I believe people want to succeed and want to do a great job. So give people a chance.
- Act. Not every action you make will be the right one, but you must act. If your people are to change what they are doing, there is usually something you must do to initiate the change. Do it. Do something. If you don’t know what to do, then try the best idea you have. If a leader comes to me and says, “My people are not doing what they are supposed to do,” my question is always, “What are you doing about it?” Yes, think. Sure, be patient. But then, you have got to take action in order to resolve the problem. Too many times we cover the problem with a band-aid when what’s really needed is to give medicine or do surgery. Have courage to take the appropriate action.
Strong leadership is humble leadership, one that assigns responsibility first and foremost to ourselves. When our people are not doing what they should, we must always stop to find what we are not doing that we should.
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