Tip #1025:  Wait Before Blaming Employees

After 45 years of working with leaders in national and international for-profit and non-profit organizations, my mantra continues to be that it’s the leaders’ responsibility to set their employees up for success.

Dr. W. Edwards Deming, the quality management guru, once said that 85% of an employee’s ability to perform successfully on the job depends upon the system. By the system, he meant the leaders, policies, procedures, and culture of an organization.

When an employee is acting out and proving “difficult,” stop and think before holding the employee to blame.

Consider what employees need to be successful on their jobs and whether one or more of these components are missing:

✅ Relevant skills for the job [Someone determined they were job ready]

✅ Effective onboarding [they understand the policies, procedures, and how they fit in the organization]

✅ A welcoming culture [they feel comfortable, supported, and accepted for who they are and what they can contribute]

✅ Clear job descriptions [they know what they are supposed to do]

✅ Reasonable and explicit performance expectations [they know the standards they have to meet and know they can meet them]

✅ Sufficient tools and resources [they have what they need so they can do the job]

✅ Training opportunities [their skills are continually updated for their current job and for potential career growth]

✅ Delegated decision making [they have sufficient authority to perform their duties]

✅ Regular recognition [their efforts are appreciated and rewarded]

✅ Ongoing coaching feedback [they know what’s working and what they need to work on]

✅ Open communication [they’re kept in the loop on all information that affects them, and they’re able to voice their concerns and have them taken seriously]

✅ Psychological safety [they feel secure trying new things and making mistakes]

✅ Equitable compensation [their pay is fair and appropriate]

Good leaders ensure that all these contributors to employee success are present and accounted for.

Few employees wake up in the morning planning to be “difficult.” If one or more components are missing, leaders should give themselves and their “difficult” employees some grace- and then constructively remedy the situation.

P.S. What else do employees need to be successful on the job?

May your learning be safe,


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