Does this should familiar to you?:

He speaks as though he understands the importance of getting the work done, that is, providing the service to the client, but when we it comes to our weekly meetings, the work’s not done. When I ask what happened, why work is not done, all I get is, “Oh, I didn’t have time.” The thing is, I know he had the time; I know he knows that the client-specific work is the core of his job; I know he spent a lot of time surfing the net!!! It just seems like he doesn’t care. This has been going on since day one; well it feels like it’s been since day one. How can someone be so unmotivated, or just not care?

This is the reply I received when I asked my client to set the agenda for an upcoming coaching session!

If you can relate to my client’s scenario ask yourself, and more importantly search for the answers to these questions:


1. Are you sure the knows what they’re meant to do, how to do it, and when they’re meant to do it?

If the employee is unsure of what to do they may not necessarily speak up and ask for fear of looking stupid. They may be thinking that because they’ve been employed in that role it’s expected that they know what to do.

I may know how to answer a landline phone, a mobile/cell phone, add people into an online Skype call but that doesn’t mean I know how use the phone system at your workplace.

Every day, across every organisation, work is distributed without enough information and an agreement on timelines. A lot of assumptions are at play.

TIP: One the best team activities you could run is to hear from each person their perspective on deadlines, when you are all on the same page and timelines are agreed, you’ve got the makings of a far more productive team and more successful outcomes.


2. Have you had a discussion about why the work is important?

We can quickly and easily fall into the trap of assuming everyone is as passionate about the work as you are. Stop that now!

Maybe your employees are not clear about how their work is an important part of a bigger picture. Managers and leaders would do well to spend more time explaining the why than they do. It might seem obvious that everyone should already know the why, however a lot of projects get delayed, sabotaged or mishandled because the team didn’t understand the importance: the why! If you have buy-in from the why, you’ll have more successful outcomes.


3. Have you been clear about your expectations, your expected standards of work?

Your employee/s might know what to do but may not understand the standard of quality you expect. Again, assumptions get you into trouble, don’t assume your team automatically know your expectations. You need to tell them, better yet, discuss with them and come to a mutually agreed standard. Ask them what they think are acceptable standards in order to keep the business going and growing.


4. Do you follow up?

Nothing tells an employee they are unimportant than if you set them a task and never follow up. Why should your employee do the work if you’re not going to check on it or ask for it when completed? That might sound harsh however when I work with teams one of the most common annoying issues they mention is when they approach their manager with a request and the manager says, “Leave it with me.”

A well intended “leave with me” can get lost in amongst all the other things that need focus, attention, decisions, execution.

TIP: Take a moment when the employee approaches you to consider the request and what the employee could action immediately without your input needed. If the request requires more from you, don’t trust your memory, add it to your ToDo List and schedule it in your calendar so that you don’t inadvertently let the “leave it with me’s” disappear.

This video might help:


5. Do you call behaviours?

If you have an employee like the one my client had* then you have two layers or issues to deal with:

1) the work, and

2) the behaviour.

Questions 1 through 4 will help you with dealing with the work. My client shared this with me:

“He’s been in a client meeting where the client actually complained about his work, I thought that would have jolted him into action but all he said after that meeting was, “Oh, well”.”

As for the behaviour, stop being patient and waiting for the care-factor to kick in. Share your observations and ask if the work is not exciting or challenging enough or too challenging.

TIP: Start by letting the employee know that your intention is to help and also avoid any performance management / first warning process. Speak about behaviours and avoid attacking the person. Seek to understand what is going on. Listen to your employee with your ears and eyes as you discuss the behaviour. Be present and focus on supporting your employee to find ways to improve their work performance. Offer any support you can AND be clear with your expectations. Together set realistic timelines and deadlines and stick to them!


Follow up, follow up, follow up!


I’d love to know your thoughts…