Most people at work are good employees.  They do what’s expected most of the time.  They work hard, come to work every day and play well with others.  Some employees go above and beyond the normal expectations.  They arrive early, stay late and are nice to have around.  But then there are those few employees and occasionally good employees, when they do it wrong or not at all.

We have all asked ourselves at some point, “What’s going on?  Why can’t they just do what I asked them to do?”

Here in this series, we will highlight 13 reasons that can affect a person’s performance and provide some ideas on how to handle them when they arise.  Many managers feel that they are just not motivated, which leads to non-specific answers to the problem.  In contrast, knowing what the problems are changes the question from, “How do I motivate them?” to “How do I improve their performance?”  Understanding this concept leads to specific actions that can be taken.

They Anticipate a Negative Consequence for Doing It

Here the problem is that the employees think there will be a negative consequence for performing appropriately:

  • I was afraid to ask you because I thought it might be a dumb question.
  • I was afraid to tell you I don’t know how to do it because you might think I was stupid.
  • I didn’t disagree with the rest of the executives because they might think I was not a team player.
  • I didn’t try what I thought was better because if it didn’t work, I would really be in trouble.

Employees may not express their real fears to you.  Not only might they not speak to you, when they do, they may not tell you the truth or give you any ideas.  The problem of fear usually appears with new situations or doing new things.  It is reasonable for people to be concerned about their performance, but when people believe they will not be able to perform successfully, or they think the consequence of failure is important, they will perform badly or not at all.

What Can You Do?

Explain early in their employment that there are no consequences for the things you want your employees to do.

  • It is okay to argue with the manager.
  • No question is a dumb question.
  • Rather than do the job wrong, it is okay to ask for input or directions several times.
  • To improve things, employees should try to be innovative, as long as ideas are cleared with you ahead of time.
  • The next step is to prove that you will respond in the fashion in which you have indicated by controlling how you will respond.

Learn more about handling employee problems.