I want to preface my content by saying that I believe with all my heart that leadership is influence. Leadership principles such as modeling, inspiring, challenging, enabling, and encouraging (The Leadership Challenge; Kouzes and Posner) are responsibilities of the leader. Leaders set the example, motivate, cast compelling vision, and live the organizational values daily. However, there are times when someone is just not meeting the standard of performance in spite of overall organizational health.
Sometimes it is difficult to put a finger on why people do not perform to standard. The obvious place to start is the leader. Not that the leader is doing anything wrong, but that he or she must analyze and act.
The simple truth is that people get paid to produce results.
Leaders should ask two questions:
1. What is the root cause?
2. What needs to be added?
Root cause is the bottom line that explains why a standard is not met. Leaders must keep asking the question “why” until they have waded through all of the excuses, rationalizations, and shallow explanations. Almost every situation will fall into one of three root causes. For each root cause, there is something that needs to be added.
Root Cause #1: DON’T KNOW. (Knowledge and skill)
- Don’t know it’s his or her responsibility.
- Don’t know what the standard is; that is, what the deliverable looks like when the standard is achieved.
- Don’t know how to meet the standard. He has the ability, but lacks the knowledge and skills to pull it off.
What to add:
- Clear job description that defines areas of responsibility.
- Supervision and approval clarifies what the standard looks like.
- Training until the standard is known, understood, and skill is developed.
Root Cause #2: CAN’T COMPLY. (Resources and ability)
- Can’t comply because of lack of resources. Necessary tools are not available such as time, equipment, supplies, personnel, budget.
- Can’t comply because of lack of ability. Sometimes people are simply in the wrong position. Personality along with knowledge, skills and ability matter. Poor performers in one area might be all-stars in another.
What to add:
- Add the necessary resources. Determine if resources need to be reallocated to align with organizational priorities.
- Add the opportunity for people to move into positions that are a better fit for their current ability.
Root Cause #3: WON’T COMPLY. (Character and values)
- Won’t comply because of laziness, procrastination, lack of responsibility, attitude, etc.
- Won’t comply because of conflicting values with the organization. There is no inner drive to produce in spite of having the knowledge, skill, ability and resources. Are they sold out to the vision and mission of the organization?
What to add:
- Add open discussion regarding lack of performance during reviews and accountability measures that improve performance.
- Add disciplinary measures in the form of probationary periods, letters of reprimand/concern, and other appropriate consequences.
- Add the opportunity for him or her to find a new organization that aligns with his or her values.