The Sharpening Stone – A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results

We’ve all been there. We’re expecting an employee to do something or produce a desired result and it’s just not happening. The tendency may be to think they’re goofing off or being lazy, or that they have been side-tracked by other tasks and priorities. While either of these may be the case, it’s important to not be so quick to jump to that conclusion. If I may, let me walk you through a specific sequence for assessment and intervention that may help you to both better understand the range of issues that can interfere with performance and be prepared to address those issues effectively.

Step 1: Assure Clarity

Your employee may not be producing the desired outcome because they are not sufficiently clear about what that desired outcome is. Lack of goal clarity can result in either initiation paralysis or misdirected efforts, or both. So, step one is assure that what you want them to do or the result you want them to produce is crystal clear. Paint the picture with them.
You can’t hit a target you can’t see.

Step 2: Assure Capability

Your employee may sufficiently clear about what you want, but may feel unprepared or ill-equipped to produce that outcome. Make it a habit to never ask someone to do something they don’t know how to do. If you find this is what’s inhibiting goal-achieving action, work with the employee to equip them for the task. So, step two is to “equip to empower”.

Step 3: Assure a Clear Pathway

If you find your employee is clear about the desired outcome and has the skillset and information to do what you’re asking but still isn’t getting there, there may be some obstacle preventing them from moving to goal. Inquire about what is in the way, and work with them to remove any identified obstacles. Part of your job as a leader is obstacle removal.

Step 4: Assess Motivation

If the goal is clear, the employee has the tools to do the job, and there are no identified obstacles to them doing so, you may come back to your original concern that the employee is just not motivated to do the work, or not the right person to be doing what you’re looking for. In this case, you may be looking at reassigning them to other or lesser responsibility, or making them available to the job market. It’s clearly decision time.

So, just to review,

Step 1: Assess and assure clarity

Step 2: Assess and assure readiness/ capability

Step 3: Assess and remove any roadblocks

Step 4: Assess and address the employee’s future

Results don’t manage themselves. That’s your job. So…Here’s to greater clarity (don glasses)

About the Author: Dixon Miller, Ph.D.

Dixon earned his Doctorate and Master’s degrees in Clinical Psychology from Biola University and holds a Bachelor’s degree from Messiah College. In addition to being a licensed psychologist and board-certified clinical neuropsychologist, Dixon brings business leadership experience in ownership, governance, and management roles. He most recently served as CEO at Acadia, Inc., where he is also a long-standing member of the Board of Directors. He was a founder and Managing Partner of Behavioral Healthcare Consultants in Lancaster prior to joining the team at Acadia, and was previously the Director of Behavioral Medicine at Lancaster General Hospital. Dixon is highly skilled in psychological assessments, and brings a strong foundation in leadership development, organizational dynamics, cultural climate assessment, change management, employee engagement,, and performance/sports psychology.

The Sharpening Stone

The Sharpening Stone is a series of short videos from True Edge designed to sharpen leaders and their organizations.

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